It’s time to get social! In this series, we’re sharing our choice strategies for boosting your reputation and building a strong network in the e-learning community. And one of the best ways to do that is with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and other social networks.
But sometimes those networks can be a bit intimidating. So let’s dive into some approachable ways to start connecting with a wider network and attracting more opportunities through social media.
The first thing you need to do is decide on your strategy for engaging on social media.
What Networks Are Right for You?
Here’s your first takeaway: You don’t have to participate in every social network. And it’s better to decide right from the beginning what networks you’ll use to boost your professional network. If you’re just starting fresh with social media, I recommend focusing on only a couple of social platforms, such as Pinterest and Twitter.
To choose which networks to focus on, think about your key skills and offerings, and determine the best platform to highlight your strengths. Are you a gifted writer? Share your favorite writing tips and examples on Twitter. Are you proud of your video tutorials? Build an awesome YouTube page and consider sharing your videos on other platforms.
You’ll also need to figure out where your target audience already is. It doesn’t do much good to share your portfolio on Facebook if you don’t have a professional network on Facebook. Research a few sample people you’d like as connections. Can you see where they’re active on social media? What kind of content do they share? Doing a little audience research will help you understand where your time is best spent and how to present yourself to that audience.
What Will You Share?
Once you choose your networks, you’ll want to decide on your content strategy. Think about what kind of content you want to share, what topics you’ll focus on, and how much of your personal life (if any) you’re comfortable sharing on your professional networks. There’s no right or wrong approach—it’s all about who you are and what you want to share with the world. As you get started, sticking to an overall content framework will make it easier for people to assess the kind of content you share and whether they’d like to connect with you.
Here are a few general tips that are useful on any network:
- Use beautiful, consistent images. Adding an image to your post will make it more eye-catching in your followers’ feeds. Stick with a consistent image style to help your followers recognize your posts. And definitely try to optimize your images so they look right for each social network (here are some useful tips on the best image ratio for different networks).
- Craft your bio with care. For folks making a quick decision on whether to follow you, your bio can be a deal-breaker. So make it good! Succinctly tell people who you are, what you use that platform for, and where they can find more info about you (such as a link to your professional website or blog).
Use the same professional profile image across all your networks. It’s so much easier to build relationships with others when they can recognize you easily, even when you’re one of hundreds of folks in their newsfeed.
Now that you have an idea of what you want to do and where you want to do it, it’s time to dive in. Here are some useful rules of thumb:
I know we’re talking about building your brand on social media, but trust me—most people don’t want to follow a brand; they want to follow engaging, interesting, insightful people who share useful, helpful, and interesting content. Add your unique insights when you share others’ content so that people get to know your perspective.
Follow and Feature
Follow tons of people! Proactively following and talking with peers and leaders in your field helps you stay on top of developments in your field and build your network. You can get started by connecting with E-Learning Heroes community members on other social media sites, and checking out the folks they follow and share.
Beyond following others, you should also feature them. Share other people’s unique and fascinating content. One of the best things you can do is to highlight work that you love (with appropriate attribution).
Most important, engage! Social media isn’t a broadcast platform; it’s a conversation. Engage with your community by replying, sharing, asking and answering questions, and boosting others’ content. You’ll find it incredibly rewarding to start building great friendships, having intellectual conversations, and connecting with people who inspire you.
Consistency is key. People want to follow someone who’s consistently active and sharing good stuff. If you have a tough time regularly updating social networks, you can find lots of great tools such as Buffer or Edgar to help you create a consistent posting schedule.
Make the Leap to “Real Life”
While social networks like Twitter and Google + are full of great chats and hangouts, meeting your virtual connections in real life is the coolest! When you go to meetups, join user groups, and attend conferences or events, you’ll find you already know tons of people there. New-to-you meetups or events are far more approachable because you can connect with other attendees before, during, and after on social networks. And you’ll find that you can form relationships with new folks much more easily when you meet first on social media.
The Conference Backchannel
Popular e-learning conferences such as DevLearn or ATD ICE often have a lively secondary conversation taking place on social media at the same time as the conference events. These backchannel conversations capture key messages from keynote speeches or sessions you might have missed. Follow and participate in these conversations simply by following specific hashtags (e.g., #DevLearn15 or #elearning).
Of course, all the E-Learning Heroes community managers are on social networks! Find us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and take a look at all the folks we follow for ideas on where and whom to explore next. Check out our commonly used hashtags such as #elearning and #instructionaldesign for more great ways to connect with others in our field.
Do you have a social media presence? How do you use social networks to promote your brand? Please share your comments and tips in the comments below.
And if you haven’t already, follow Articulate on Twitter. Then, come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.