How to start using social media (and why school staff members should!)

social_media_starter_guideI remember the days when Facebook was by invite only, and when U.S. Senators started Tweeting and we all thought they were crazy. Little did we know how much social media would evolve, and how integral it would become to our everyday lives.

Now, every school has a Facebook page where student projects and basketball game pictures are regularly shared, while businesses and organizations take to Twitter and LinkedIn to share resources and news – all of which educators and school staff members can use to develop their career. 

Although there are a plethera of social media platforms, for the purposes of this post, we’ll be focusing on Twitter and LinkedIn. Both Twitter and LinkedIn are easy-to-use, but most importantly, they’re actually useful. They help staff members connect with colleagues at other schools, and they also offer a dose of daily professional development through blog posts and community discussions.

It’s important to note that Twitter and LinkedIn do serve different purposes, though. Twitter is best for staying current with news (local and abroad) and “following” influential people – plus you can reach just about anyone on Twitter. From celebrities to your favorite clothing store, you can easily connect with anyone else on Twitter.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, is more of a professional environment. When you create an account, you will be asked to share your education, qualifications, and specialties. Then, you’ll also have the chance to add “connections” (people you know) to grow your LinkedIn network. It may feel invasive at first, but you’ll soon find that by including your information, it’s easier to find people with similar work experience or interests. Then, you can also use LinkedIn to join special interest groups for school nurses, business officers, K-12 tech, and more. These cyber communities are like the upgraded version of listservs. You can find groups dedicated to any of your interests, and participate in discussions with people across the nation and world.

Now that you know what each social platform is all about, let’s get to the point: How to start using them!

Step 1: Create a profile.

Both Twitter and LinkedIn make it easy to create a profile, but LinkedIn does take a little more elbow grease. Don’t worry, there are easy tutorials for you to follow.

Step 2: Update your privacy settings.

If you’re still a little uneasy about putting your information out on the web (believe me, I understand), make sure your privacy settings are secure to your comfort level. Ways to improve your privacy include:

Step 3: Connect with people, groups, and organizations you know.

Welcome to the fun part! Now that you have a Twitter and/or LinkedIn account, it’s time to use it to your advantage. On Twitter, you will be “following” people, and on LinkedIn, you will be “connecting” with people. Regardless of whether you follow or connect with someone, it all means the same thing: You will see regular updates (either their Tweets or their LinkedIn activity) from that person when you log in to your account. These updates help you keep tabs on what’s happening in the world!

Once you’re connected to people, don’t be afraid to post Tweets or share updates. Twitter has a super helpful “getting started” page that explains what a Tweet is, and how to get involved on Twitter. From my own experience, I’ll share that I like to follow products that I use, and local business. For school staff members, following education blogs, famous educators, and school-related organizations (such as the National Business Officers Association, The Association of Boarding Schools, or National Association of School Nurses) is a safe bet. LinkedIn updates don’t need to be as frequent as Tweets, but I do recommend that you join a relevant LinkedIn group and participate in conversations there. 

Step 4: Stay engaged.

You’ll thank me for this one. As easy as it is to get carried away with social media, it’s just as easy to become disengaged and let it fall by the wayside. It’s important to check in at least once or twice a week to see what conversations you can weigh in on, or what industry information you may have missed. You can set up LinkedIn email notifications to alert you when someone posts in a group that you’re a member of, or you can set up Twitter email notifications when someone re-Tweets or mentions you on Twitter.

You can start your social media right here by following us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ by clicking each of the icons below. We’ll see you out there in the world of social media!

{{cta(‘7831b321-b4be-4fd4-b5e0-334636801dea’)}}{{cta(‘9ef7e564-1846-461a-8b03-2ad20435860c’)}} {{cta(‘ce0b1276-33a7-49c6-9765-6105dc9fbf99’)}} {{cta(‘e2f9dd86-817e-4a9d-ad53-3054651c5fbf’)}}