One of the most important things a #ConnectedEducator can do is to build a stellar profile and create a social media brand. You may currently be thinking, “a brand is for a company, fast food restaurant, or shoe, not for a teacher.” Well, my friend, I disagree. Your profile gives followers a quick snapshot of who you are as a professional (and a person). Your posts will develop your brand. Think of this as your digital footprint.
What do you need to include in your profile?
What should you post? And how often?
Why is it important to brand yourself?
Your profile is your first impression. What do you want people to immediately know about you? First, you need your real name and location. Secondly, your bio should include a mix of professional and personal information and a bit of fun. Lastly, you should consider adding a link to your website or blog. This lets potential followers know you’re a real person.
Your picture is more than likely the very first thing people will notice when they see your profile. Use a real picture! If you prefer to not show your actual face for one reason or another, use an avatar. Pictures of scenery, book covers, or your school library are great; however, they can be used in your banner. Your profile picture should be just that. You.
Personally, if I can’t tell who you are or what you do, I probably will not follow you. The amazing Gwyneth Jones has great guidelines for social media profiles and branding in her Tweet Like a Ninja post.
Have some fun with your bio. Most are limited to a specific number of characters, but you can let your personality shine! Let people know who you are as a professional. Add in a personal detail or something fun. Be sure to add a link to your website or LinkedIn profile. Having those links in your bio will create a professional path that people can follow to interact with you. After all, social media is social.
If you have a specific hashtag for your school, library, or Twitter chat, you can add that, too. Just remember, your profile should tell people who you are. It should not be an entire string of hashtags with zero information about you as a professional or person.
What do I post?
There are three types of posts: original, retweets, and a quoted tweet. Original post is just what is says. It is an original post that you have created. Share what you are doing well or ask for ideas/help with something. Don’t feel like all of your posts have to be education related. Share tidbits of you. Remember, we want to know you are human, not a bot.
Retweets and quoted tweets are posts that were originally created by someone else. You can retweet the post in its entirety, which gives credit to the owner while still telling your followers you agree or like what has been said. A quoted tweet is essentially the same; however, you can add your own thoughts to a quoted tweet. You’re still giving credit to the owner!
What can you do if you like a post, but don’t feel that the content works well with your brand or you don’t have an original opinion to add? Go ahead and “like” the post. Clicking the heart underneath the post lets the person know that you like it! When you “like” a post, it will show up in your followers’ newsfeed; however, in order to see all of the posts you have liked, a person would have to look under the likes tab on your profile page.
When posting, you want to draw attention to your content. Space is a great way to do this. Each space is a character. Each time you enter to a new line is one character. Making use of vertical space is a great strategy to use when posting. Adding images or gifs draws attention to your content, as well. Don’t be afraid of shameless posting (bragging). Some shameless posting is okay—but not all posts should fall into the category of self-promotion.
Branding is not just for companies, organizations, or shoes. Branding yourself on social media tells the world who you are and what you are about. Branding comes as you post content, share and retweet, and interact with your followers. Branding also comes through the hashtags you use.
Hashtags are a way to follow a conversation and follow the flow of posting. Each time you use a hashtag, you’re adding to your brand. Participating in ed chats is an excellent way to grow your brand. What chat speaks the most to you? Do you participate in only technology chats, or do you branch out into school librarian or content-area chats?
Following peers and other professionals also adds to your brand. When asking friends in the Future Ready Libs group, I loved Gretchen Hazlin’s suggestions for growing your PLN (more on this next month) and followers. She says, “Follow a lot of people. It will feel a bit lonely for a while as you build up your own followers. Stick with it.”
I couldn’t agree more. I remember my first few weeks of actually using Twitter. I kept following all of these rockstar librarians, authors, illustrators, actors, etc. Me? I had maybe fifteen followers. Just keep at it. Followers will come. Much like in the field of dreams. If you build it, they will come.
If you build your brand, share content, and create a welcoming profile, followers and friends will come.
Author: Ashley Cooksey
Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.