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Importance of Researching a Hashtag: A Lesson Learned (part 1)

Originally posted on Learn.Collaborate.Lead. on April 10th, 2015.

Well, I certainly learned a lesson today! I made a series of mistakes and in the spirit of a growth mindset, I feel the need to share what I learned right away.  

Earlier today I completed a post for my other blog, Inquire and Inspire, that I'd been working on for just over a week.  I was proud of it and eager share it.  I've done this many times before and this wasn't going to be any different.

I tweeted it out and included my usual hashtags: #edchat and #edtech.

This time though, since my post explained how educators can use backchannels like TodaysMeet and Twitter for increased opportunities for student voice, I decided to include the hashtag "backchannel".  Why wouldn't I? As I typed it in, it appeared in the autofill drop down so naturally it was okay to include. I was even proud of myself for working it into the body of the tweet instead of tacking it on at the end. 

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Within about an hour, I received a tweet stating that I should research hashtags and avoid promoting my blog post with one (backchannel) that is already in use.

Gasp! I had been called out in public for a naive error. What thread had I tied my tweet to?!? Fortunately, it wasn't anything inappropriate but still, I made a silly error that was completely avoidable.

I replied to the gentleman and thanked him for pointing out my mistake and proceeded to delete my tweet. Then I decided to delete my thank you tweet because I thought that would call more attention to my error. Finally I contacted the one person who had retweeted my tweet and requested that she delete her retweet. (I apologize for the repetitive language but it seems to be unavoidable).

Now a few hours later, I am having trouble keeping track of all the mistakes I made today; the biggest being I should never have used a hashtag that I wasn't familiar with. I should always do my due diligence and research a hashtag before connecting a tweet to it. I've heard the horror stories of people who have tied their tweets to hashtags that are irrelevant or inappropriate for a larger audience.  Of course, that wasn't my intention but naivety is no excuse.

Here is what I'm still questioning.  

Did I do the right thing by deleting the original tweet? I think that was okay. It didn't belong in that thread and I was correcting an honest error.

Did I do the right thing by deleting my reply tweet to the man who pointed out my error? I don't think so. I made the mistake and I should not have been afraid that people would find out. I explain to my students all the time that making mistakes is part of the learning process and without them, we'd never grow. We need to appreciate our blunders and not be afraid to share them so others won't be afraid to take risks. What did I do? I tried to hide my mistake. That's taking a step backwards in my own journey to become a responsible digital citizen. 

Although one of my instincts was to forget this ever happened, I decided to fight that fear and write this post instead. I will share the story with my students next week and use it as a lesson to help them understand the power of social media. 

In the end, I'm relieved no one was hurt and no major damage was done but I realize what could happen if I'm not thinking. The funny thing is, I thought I knew what I was doing! I know the stories of people who make these mistakes and I thought I was digitally responsible.  I still have lots to learn.  Sharing this story is part of my learning.
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