By Mark Henshaw

By September 1st KNAER-RECRAE had fewer than 1000 Twitter followers and 9 blogs. Since September 1st, we inspired over 1592 followers and created 12 more blogs dedicated to mobilizing knowledge and innovation in education. Our use of social media has been instrumental in supporting our values and mission here at KNAER-RECRAE, but there is nothing linear about our journey.

excellence ONTCreating timely and relevant content for the “eduverse” surely involves more misfires than bull’s eyes. I can recall my first experiences trying to tweet for the @KNAER_RECRAE. After framing my plans around our mission and the renewed vision of the Ministry of Education, I would dive into the digital world of academia and news while connecting with teachers, parents, students and more.

My next step was to dig deep into our Project Resource Toolkit and use Hootesuite to pre-set tweetble releases at peak times in the world of social media. In spite of my best efforts, the plan flopped. It seemed that our engagement on Twitter plunged like a roller coasters 221-foot drop. The tweets solicited little response, the messages attracted almost no retweets, and I only gained a couple random troll-like followers.

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This is when my team member Patricia Briscoe introduced me to the concept of #hashtags (using a number sign before a word to capture a particular audience). Then, another team member Shasta Carr-Harris reached out to me about @TeachThought and their entire blog dedicated to showcasing popular #hashtags in education. The knowledge mobilization specialist (#KMB) Bonnie Zink also taught me to search for relevant education buzz by plugging those popular #hashtags into the Twitter search bar. This search method allows you to only sweep through tweets that have that relevant #hashtag. The support, teamwork, and resources I acquired from the team put on a much better footing to engage with the educational world of Twitter.

After continued support from the KNAER-RECRAE team, re-ingesting our vision and reading up on social media strategies, the @KNAER_RECRAE account experienced better results. But to ensure we were executing our vision, we needed to critically assess how to grow beyond the foundation we had. Since we observed that #OntTeachers were vibrant on Twitter, we asked, “Can we improve our relationships with Educational Assistants? Parents? Academics?” One network building strategy we used was to introduce academics in education with other academics, practitioners or intermediaries.

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Although creating connections on Twitter made some promise, more actions and real time connections must be made. Until then, I hope you have found my @KNAER_RECRAE journey helpful as you explore your own paths through the Twitterverse.