The Power of Social Networks

(I recently posted this on my own personal portfolio-blog and it was shared all over the world; thought I would share it here as well)

If you don’t believe in the power that Twitter has, hopefully this story will change your mind.

Wanting to show my staff the effectiveness and power of connections through social networks, I decided to place a bet.  The bet was that if I sent out a form over document, the educators in the Twitter community would step up and prove to me that they would help, showing my own staff the power of this social network.  Little did I know that it would go beyond my wildest dreams.

I woke up at 4am before a staff meeting with an idea.  I had done the Twitter “shoutout” before, where I would say hi to my Twitter followers and they would tell me where they were from.  I had thought maybe I would try something a little more and increase the stakes.  If I sent out a short Google Form survey, hopefully a few people from different areas would fill it out.  This way I could show staff how easy it is to connect to a few people that are educators and spread their idea.

Because I know the power Twitter has, I tried to “hide” the form and test it in the morning with someone who I knew was up so early in the morning.  It started with this Tweet:

@SusanneGunning I actually just created a short survey that I am going to send out to the “twitterverse” during staff mtg to show pwr of pln.

This was followed by:

@SusanneGunning Want to be the first to fill it out? http://bit.ly/b2UDEy :)

She had filled it out and I knew that it worked.  Now it was time to wait.

At about 10:40 AM, MST, I sent out a Tweet to the world that stated the following:

@gcouros PLEASE HELP! Having a meeting with staff and want to show power of network. Please fill in form: http://bit.ly/b2UDEy Please RT!

My bet was that I could turn on the spreadsheet and names would be filled in. I specifically put in the question, “Have you ever met George in person? (@gcouros)”, to show that people I had never met were more than willing to help me. I was amazed by the response. Immediately people started filling out the form from all over the world and sending out the message to others.

Rachelle Lamoureux lamoureuxr RT @gcouros: PLEASE HELP! Having a meeting w/ staff & wnt 2 show power of network. Please fill in form: http://bit.ly/b2UDEy <done!

Patrick Larkin @bhsprincipal RT @lamoureuxr: RT @gcouros: PLEASE HELP! Having a meeting w/ staff & wnt 2 show power of network. Please fill in form: http://bit.ly/b2UDEy

I really enjoyed the following Tweet that showed people will help no matter who it is for.

Sean Heuchert @sheuchert 136 people respond to twitter query/experiment by @gcouros launched 2 hours ago http://bit.ly/aPC3DT. 133/136 have no idea who @gcouros is.

My brother, Dr. Alec Couros encouraged me to share the information:

 Alec Couros courosa @gcouros share the spreadsheet with us.

Others went a different step ahead:

Kara Cornejo karacornejo @gcouros I will send you a link for a voice thread that was put together to show teachers the power of twitter. Maybe you could use it

Then my brother wanted to show the visual in a different form through this map.

The results were amazing and I shared with anyone who was interested in seeing the information.

In the end, I knew my bet would pay off and that my professional network on Twitter would come through.  I had no idea on just how BIG they would do that, but I know that a lot of my staff are sold on the power of Twitter.  As I write this post, over 161 people had taken the time to fill out the form, and counting.  They ranged from teachers to professors, parents to principals, librarians to consultants.  The response was overwhelming and so helpful.

If you are not sold, read the survey as people shared how Twitter is beneficial to them.  My advice to you is to get on Twitter, start sharing your knowledge, build your network, and have patience in connecting.  You will quickly start to build your own network of people that will do amazing things for you and help you out in so many ways.  I have learned so much from my network, and just hope sometimes that I am of the same value to them.

It always amazes me how there are so many kind and passionate educators are willing to help their colleagues around the world, but from now on, it will never surprise me.