Should official university Twitter accounts participate in #FF?

“Should an official school Twitter account participate in Follow Friday?”

This is a question I had while pondering my first ever Follow Friday (#FF) post on the official Twitter account I maintain for Bemidji State University, @BSUNews. I initially didn’t know why I hadn’t participated in the past, but as I worked on the post a great number of questions popped into my head that had me wondering if I should continue.

I follow 82 accounts on @BSUNews; other schools, a couple of accounts related to our state system, higher ed reporters, national associations and public policy groups, BSU faculty, staff and alumni, etc. Some of these accounts are dual-follows on my personal account as well (@abart01), just to make it easier for me to respond via multiple avenues depending on what I feel is appropriate. So there are a variety of different people and viewpoints filling up my Twitter stream on TweetDeck every day, which is really the point of Twitter in the first place.

But as I was randomly going through my list of follows and trying to decide “OK, #FF this account,” and “OK, maybe don’t #FF this account,” I began to wonder why I was making the decisions I was making to include or not include certain accounts. There really wasn’t a pattern. If there wasn’t a pattern, that meant there wasn’t any defensible reason I could come up with as to why I #FF’d a certain account and chose not to mention another.

To me, this was the ultimate problem – not whether I should be participating at all, but whether there was a formula for participating that I could apply objectively and, therefore, defend when and if that became necessary.

Since I didn’t have this formula, I deleted my #FF post on @BSUNews this past Friday almost immediately after I posted it. Not necessarily because I was sure the post wasn’t appropriate, but because I didn’t want to answer any questions from someone else who might have thought it was inappropriate.

This week, I think I might participate; but I think the right avenue would be to only #FF “official” school accounts and avoid individual accounts — in other words, provide a #FF for University of the North, but not to University of the North’s PR person. I can come up with a myriad of reasons why I’d want to provide links to accounts run by individuals, but I’m going to treat those on a case-by-case basis and stick with institutional accounts for #FF for now.

I’m sure I’ll be revisiting this again in the future.

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