The Ottumwa Courier

March 4, 2014

Ottumwa leaders discuss social media

By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Social media is no longer reserved for teens to interact with each other. Now businesses and organizations are using websites like Facebook and Twitter to reach a broader audience and to promote themselves.

To help some of Ottumwa’s leaders better understand social media tools, Cardinal Community School District Superintendent Joel Pederson gave a special presentation at a lunch-and-learn event Tuesday afternoon at the Ottumwa Leadership Academy.

Pederson, who is a member of the 2012-13 Leadership Academy graduating class, was on hand to describe the ways Cardinal uses social media. He also gave helpful hints that business owners and organization leaders can use to get a better grasp on Twitter and Facebook so they can benefit the most from using social media.

“As a district, we use social media like a steroid,” Pederson said. “Technology can really change the way learning happens. What we’ve done with social media has worked.”

In his presentation, Pederson mentioned that there have been multiple school districts that have come to Cardinal to learn about how they are using social media. That way the different districts can try to implement some of Cardinal’s practices to relay their message to students and parents.

Pederson also said that social media has changed the way people communicate, and the perception about using websites like Facebook and Twitter has changed.

He admitted that during the first few years he had Twitter, he did not use it much because he didn’t see a need in using it. Now, though, he uses it as a professional collaborative network, he said, and businesses and organizations that use social media in that way can reach a much broader, interactive network between their peers.

With all of the positives that come with using social media, there are negatives that can arise, Pederson cautioned. Although using Twitter and Facebook is a way to challenge leaders with getting the proper message out, all of the focus can’t switch to social media. There still needs to be more of an emphasis on getting things done in the workplace.

“There can be a danger with promoting yourself on Twitter,” Pederson said. “You still need to produce in your organization.”

By getting employees and organization members to buy into a social media strategy properly, the brand of that organization or company looks more presenting to outsiders, and the proper message can be presented to a broader audience.

Pederson’s presentation is a good reminder that social media can really help an organization if used properly, but, as was mentioned in the meeting, things can spiral downward fast if you aren’t careful.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh