- There are 5 social media tips offered. Start by adding value by creating content and contributing, connect to others, and amplify other people’s messages.
- Build a presence on social media by having new, critical, or interesting thoughts.
- When you amplify and put kindness and thoughtfulness into the universe, you will be surprised at what may come from it.
- Be authentic online.
- Don’t overthink how often you share, what you share, or on which platform. Put content out. Lead, post, and add value.
Social media is an interesting place. I always think of social media, particularly in the professional sense, as a ‘choose your own adventure’ platform. You can consume, curate, connect, or contribute. More importantly, you can flip between these roles in the same day. It truly CAN be amazing to learn, engage, and grow.
There are some basics to social media that many other blogs can run you through, like not having your dog as your avatar on your professional account. But as we approach summer, I believe that there are five key tips that will help you boost your social media presence and grow your network.
Social Media Tips: Add Value
There are three clear ways to add value on social media. The first is to create content that helps people think deeper or differently about a given subject. Quite frankly, that is what writing this is an attempt to do. I am attempting to contribute. I am attempting to add value by influencing how you think about a given topic. So, when this is published I will promote it on social media and see if people agree. The market will not lie. Good ideas = good engagement. CONTRIBUTE.
The second way to add value is build your own and other people’s networks. I have always followed and connected with someone that a peer or colleague on social media has recommended or said “I think you two have a lot in common” or something to that accord. There is great value in being a CONNECTOR.
Lastly, amplifying someone else’s message adds great value to that individual. Consistently doing that is wonderful to bring them value, but doing so also brings value to your timeline and your followers if you are sharing solid content—even if it was not created by you. Some people will recommend a specific ratio of amplifying others’ messages to sharing your own; personally, I do not subscribe to that. Just add value. AMPLIFY.
Two other quick tips.
Have a close circle that will tell you if your social media presence becomes too self-promotional. Second, if you read something and like it, retweet it, share it, etc., then follow the person who wrote it. It only makes sense. If you liked the person’s thinking, CRUSH that follow button. You will probably like other things that person has to say.
Social Media Tips: Have a Take
Platitudes help nobody.
Well, I should say that there are a handful of educational related accounts that simply drop platitudes and those messages fly into the echo chamber and have a ton of engagement. This is not me hating—good for them and in those cases, platitudes help them.
That said, most people build a presence on social media by having new thoughts, critical thoughts, or interesting thoughts. My social media engagement went up nearly ten-fold this summer when I went in with strong takes on school re-opening. I put myself out there. I felt vulnerable. I told my truth. People were interested in the thoughts I shared. I ended up in the Washington Post, on NPR, and national morning news shows. Strong, creative thought tends to create engagement. That is simply how it works.
Now, as a disclaimer: this is a SCARY time to have thoughts. There is a very ‘you are with us or against us’ vibe on MANY educational issues right now. It is easy and safe to stay bland. And that may be the right call for you, but being interesting is how to expand your presence.
Social Media Tips: “Ask them to Dance”
I think everyone remembers the person in their peer group that was not afraid to go across the bar or dance hall and ask someone else to dance. Sometimes they were rejected, but more than likely they typically had more fun than someone who was a wallflower.
Well, social media is your dance floor. When I first arrived on social media, my educational man-crush was on Todd Whitaker. I loved that he was direct. I loved that he was funny. I loved that he was confident enough to live tweet The Bachelor (awful show, there I said it) from his professional account. So, I engaged with him. I amplified his message. I asked him for advice. Long story short, we wrote a book together and he sat on my Dissertation Committee. This all happened because “I asked him to dance.”
My second story is with Daniel Forrester, author and consultant. I really liked his book Consider, so I tweeted takeaways as I read and tagged him in those tweets. We connected. During the pandemic he led a think-tank research piece where my thoughts were included with the likes of General McChrystal and General Petraeus. I was walking with GIANTS, because I ‘live-tweeted’ a book I thoroughly enjoyed and had the courage to tag the author.
Here is the best part. I simply wanted to amplify his message because I thought it was really smart. I had no end game in mind. Then, out of the blue, five years later this amazing opportunity arises. That is the way human connection works and it is just amplified through social media. Be nice to people and put kindness and thoughtfulness into the universe. You will be surprised when it comes back to you.
Social Media Tips: Be Authentic
One of my favorite quotes is that I bring all of me wherever I go.
You get a little brilliance, a little crazy, a ton of flaws, a husband, a dad, a die-hard Bears and Tar Heels fan—you get all of it. So, I share that on my social media. I know some people would advise to stay strictly professional, but for me, it is easier and WAY more fun to just be me.
You may ask why would someone want to follow an educator to see him meltdown over an Interception in the 3rd quarter of a week four NFL game. This example is the best I can muster. When I am at a conference and get done with a keynote, I get way more people that come up and start the conversation discussing the Bears quarterback play or the next recruit going to the University of North Carolina than start by discussing why I think time management does not really exist or the educational issue du jour.
Simply, it is a conversation starter and we eventually end up talking about their leadership and/or school issues.
The best part of being authentic is that you make yourself way more relatable. People want to connect with people they think they would enjoy a coffee, beer, or bourbon with. At least that is who I want to connect with and not an education, leadership, or self-promotional branding robot.
There are limits to this, of course. I swear less online. I vent very infrequently. I try to keep it positive and productive. So, authenticity rules the day, but I always look through the lens of would I say this in front of students. It helps to clarify things for me when I want to cuss out the Bears coaching staff or complain about something—when instead of admiring the problem I should be working for a solution.[scroll down to keep reading]
Social Media Tips: Don’t Overthink It
There are blogs/articles out there like this that will give you systematic and formulaic approaches to social media. I am going to tell you not to overthink it, all while being incredibly thoughtful. I will give two quick examples.
First, a great LinkedIn post is different from a great Tweet which is different from a great IG post. We know intuitively from consuming the content. It can have the same message, but the actual mechanism of how you share that message should adjust to what you see is successful on that platform.
Second, if that paragraph above stressed you out—take a deep breath. Here is the biggest thing that I do not want people to overthink. Just keep leading. Keep posting. Keep adding value. A LinkedIn post that does not sound like a LinkedIn post and sounds more like a tweet is still WAY better than no post at all.
I get the question all the time: How many times should I share this blog/article that I wrote that I am really proud of?
I do not have an answer for that. Share it until people quit engaging with it. OR share it in different ways until people start engaging with it.
This is my personal opinion, so take it for what it is worth. I will share an article that is FREE to access sometimes 10 times over the course of three weeks. I will promote a book I wrote that is for sale maybe 4 times a year. I am very conscious of trying to ADD VALUE for free in hopes that if I build an audience, people will choose to buy my books, hire me to speak, and engage me in consulting issues.
Is there a thin line between promotion of your thoughts and promotion of yourself and your products? ABSOLUTELY. But, I think as people continue to build their online presence that this line becomes more and more clear. So don’t overthink it. Just get out there and share your brilliant thoughts and start adding value to your peers and colleagues.
About PJ Caposey
Dr. PJ Caposey is an award-winning educator, keynote speaker, consultant, and best-selling author of eight books who currently serves as the Superintendent of Schools for the nationally recognized Meridian CUSD 223 School District in Northwest Illinois. You can find PJ on most social media platforms as MCUSDSupe.