Finding your voice on social media


The language used when talking about social media in business can often seem unrelated to the way we relate to using it in a social context, however there are some useful pointers to gain from.  Lilach Bullock is an online business expert and created the infographic below to highlight the steps business owners can take to gain social influence and become a go-to source in their particular niche. There are a number of points that can be applied as educators using social media to develop personal learning networks; to signpost useful information created by ourselves and also by other educators; and to signal that we are open to providing help to others. Portrayed as wanted to grow influence may make you feel uncomfortable, however if you are using social media, for example a blog to share information as an educator and wish to engage in meaningful dialogues, then there is little point being a ‘shrinking violet’. It is important therefore to find and develop your voice on social media.

If you want to develop a personal learning network, using social media is an excellent way to connect to educators beyond your immediate network. Utilising other social media like Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ can help to amplify your blog posts so that others do actually have the opportunity to read them. As an introvert I have found that a key advantage of using social media to connect with others is that you have space to think. Whether composing a tweet, blog post or a comment, you choose when to do this. You don’t need to feel you have to respond immediately. For me that option of thinking time has helped me to become more confident.

So taking Lilach’s checklist, let me share how I think these apply to educators using social media for learning.

  • Choose a niche – If you are considering writing a blog that you want others to read, don’t worry about being an expert, but do choose a topic you will enjoy writing about and others will enjoy reading.
  • Online presence – Make sure you populate your personal bio as this information will help others with mutual interests connect with you. Add links to connect your social media spaces, for example your Twitter name on your blog and vice-versa.
  • Social media – Develop useful connections with others and engage in conversations, add comments and like posts that are of interest to you. Over time you will develop followers and build a valued network.
  • Become a go-to source – Take the opportunity to help others by answering questions and when writing a blog post consider adding a question to encourage comments from readers.
  • Share content – This can be information you have created but equally important is sharing what others have posted. For example interesting blog posts, articles, videos or podcasts. Always acknowledge the work of others and where possible tag them using their username to let them know you appreciate their content.
  • Blogging – Add visual interest to your posts by adding images or a video. Consider pulling together useful ‘how to guides’ or a bulleted checklist. Blog posts can be short and punchy, and still be of value.
  • Be up to date –  Share the tips you learn with others in your network. Chances are they will appreciate this, just as you do learning from others.
  • Networking – Reach out to individuals from time to time and take an interest in what they are doing. This can be done publicly or through the use of private messages.

Above all remember that finding your voice on social media is more than just broadcasting. Your experience will be far more fulfilling if you socialise with others by engaging in dialogues with others in your chosen networks.

social influence infographic

About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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