Five Tips for How Professors can become Social Media Influencers

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Five tips for how professors can become social media influencers

There have been a lot of discussions and posts related to what it means to be a social media influencer. Insights, perspectives, and best practices have been shared with the social media community, including this feature by Hootsuite with some of the top Forbes influencers in the business.

This is a topic that has been discussed in the community for several years among both practitioners and researchers. Jay Baer had written a good post that did discuss the differences between a social media influencer versus a brand advocate on his blog. I had the chance to do some research on the subject a few years ago with some fellow colleagues on what are some of the personality traits for social media influencers.

However, the question arises with the fact that most of these professionals are practitioners. Yes, some are also teaching at the university level in social media classes, but how can professors utilize these best practices and tips to become influencers in their own area?

1. Establish a digital voice. Professors need to not only be active and engaged with their colleagues, but also with those who would be impacted and interested in their research and teaching. Creating a personal blog to share perspectives, insights, and updates is key for a professor to share with their respective communities.

2. Sharing insights through social media extension platforms: A blog should be the place for a professor digitally to be the host of their online reputation. Sharing content through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram are key to reach the respective communities online. Being generous with content is key – you need to share your insights and knowledge with others openly. Whether it is class guidelines and assignments from class or presentations along with research projects, it all reflects your voice, expertise, and personal brand to the community.

3. Don’t be afraid of doing something different: By being different, a  professor can create their own brand and make a memorable impression not only with their class and students, but with the social media community. There are certain myths that are of course discussed in higher ed when it comes to social media, but there are so many opportunities here for professors to use the platforms strategically and effectively.

4. Invite others to be part of the online dialogue with classes: Most professors use social media in some capacity in their work, especially Twitter. Connect with fellow professionals, practitioners, and brands and invite them to be part of the class. Share their Twitter handles with students and others so they can connect online as well. This could potentially help in leading to future collaborations on projects, research, and even other professional opportunities.

5. Remember, social media is all about being social and connecting with others: Professors not only have to be creators of information, but they have to serve as social connectors for their students, colleagues, and to the profession. Being able to network and collaborate with others virtually is one of the most important skills professors need to have today. Participate in chat sessions, contribute to guest blog posts and podcasts, and be actively engaged online with others. It’s not who you know, but who knows you that counts today as a professor.

In summary, professors and others in higher ed are facing a new challenge ahead of them when it comes to the expectations and role they play with students, brands, and practitioners. In adapting to the changes, there are many opportunities here available for professors to use social media to present their point of view, insights, story, and be proactive in sustaining their personal brand online with their respective communities. If you are interested in seeing professors who are active and engaged on social media already, here’s a great list to check out.

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