The world of social media is growing exponentially, and it can be hard to keep up. It gets even harder when you are trying to keep up while building and maintaining your brand. Hoping to take some of the guess work out it all, this week I rounded up some social media "do's" and "don'ts" from all of you! I quickly realized that there are a lot of opinions out there!
In honor of the final episode of David Letterman last week, I thought I would approach this post in TOP TEN fashion! Here we go:
Top 10 Social Media Do's & Don'ts
(For Teacher Bloggers & TpTers)
One of the most overwhelming themes that came across in the replies was BALANCE! Your audience wants to see a VARIETY of photos! Finding that balance can be difficult… I'm not going to lie! I like to think about it by categorizing posts:
- Classroom: We want to peek inside your classroom! We want to see where the magic happens for you and your students every day. We want to see the cute bulletin board that took you until 9pm to create. We want to glimpse at student projects and feel inspired. We want to see your messy closet and sigh because we don't feel so alone. Teaching can sometimes feel like an isolating profession, so catching glimpses beyond the walls of our own classroom is always refreshing… as long as it is done in moderation!
- Personal: It is ultimately personality that people connect with. By sharing moments in your personal life with your followers, you are becoming a complete person. You are becoming someone we can connect with. We want to laugh at your silly mistakes! We want to see your wedding photos! Have a new fur baby? Yes, we want to see their adorable face! Spending a late night typing conference forms by the fire… we want to relate to you! Including glimpses into your personal life is a must for me… as long as it is done in moderation!
- Quotes/Memes/Other: Who doesn't love a good inspirational quote every once in a while? We want you to share some of the meaningful words that resonate with you… chances are they will resonate with us too! We want to see that meme or eCard that had you doubled over this morning! Emotions are a powerful tool to engage your audience, and highly recommended… as long as it is done in moderation!
- Products/Giveaways: We love sneak peaks of your products! Sometimes a good product teaser is a great way to engage your audience! Thanking your followers with an occasional giveaway is also a great… as long as it is done in moderation!
Now, a subtle balance between these categories is typically what your audience is craving. Over posting personal photos will detract from your brand! Over posting your products will detract from the personal connection you have formed with your followers.
Also, it's important to think about which social media platform you are working with. Typically, you do not post personal photos to your business Facebook and Twitter accounts. Generally, these accounts are reserved for the other three categories, as well as for sharing articles, blog posts, freebies, and other items that may be of interest to your followers. However, on Instagram, it's considered an essential tool in connecting with your audience.
**THERE ARE ALWAYS EXCEPTIONS**
Just like the English language, there are exceptions to every rule! Some well established people on Instagram have made their brand by having a specific focus.
EXAMPLE A: THE AMY GROSEBECK is one of my favorites! She is fun, full of life, and clearly an amazing teacher. She has carved out her corner of the internet with her hashtag #180daysinthelifeofateacher. Every day, she shares a photograph of life in her classroom, labeling with the number of the day. Her photos are always engaging, and tell the story of her life as a teacher. She has found a way to focus mostly on classroom photos, while keeping her audience engaged and laughing!
EXAMPLE B: THE TUTU TEACHER and her morning selfies are a must follow! Her fashion, her humor, and the anticipation of each tutu unveiling around holidays keep our attention. On top of that, she also does a great job of balancing the other three categories, but her selfie series is definitely a great example of how to highlight your personal photos!
EXAMPLE C: ONE FAB TEACHER has found her niche by by working to increase positivity in our daily work through her inspiring quotes! The words in her original posts resonate with her followers, as you can see simply by reading through the comment section of each post. Her focus on creating a dialogue of positivity has become her signature… her brand!
EXAMPLE D: GABBY'S CLASSROOMS is the ultimate guide to teacher tech tips! I lose track of time while scrolling through her photos. I am not only fascinated by her knowledge of technology, but also by her ability to make her knowledge accessible to the rest of us! She's incredible, and has found her spot in the IG teaching community by focusing on tech tips for TpT authors and bloggers!
This was also a BIG one in all of the replies I received. I think the big takeaway for this section is "Don't blow up my feed!"
For Instagram and Facebook QUALITY over QUANTITY! The general consensus is limit yourself to one or two posts per day. Two should be your ceiling, but not your goal! An occasional exception of three can be made if something truly amazing happens! If you post more than that, you are in danger of upsetting your followers. If you have 20 adorable pictures of your kids from the barbecue that you're dying to share, DON'T DO IT on your professional account! Those photos belong on your personal account, and even then, it may be too many! One of the replies said it best, "I love to see how you roll, just not 21 posts in a day!"
A perfect example of this was when Hadar of Miss Kindergarten was married last month. She has over 10,000 IG followers, and knew that we all wanted to see the details of her beautiful day! Rather than posting all of her photos on her business account, she made a separate personal account and invited her audience to follow. She exemplifies this guideline perfectly, focusing her attentions on quality over quantity. Perhaps that's why she is presenting "Instagram Your Brand: One Picture at a Time" at this year's TpT Conference in Las Vegas… she's got it down to a science!
The etiquette on Twitter differs from other popular social media platforms. With Twitter, there's nothing wrong with tweeting several times throughout the day, as long as each tweet adds value, maintaining a balance between brand promotion and other educational topics of interest.
I am going to support this one simply by quoting the responses to my original post:
"Leave a quick comment- they always brighten my day!"
"Taking the time to leave a comment, people replying to the comments you leave, and sharing positivity."
"When your teacher idols follow you back and say kind things. I love these people!"
"I love sweet comments!"
"I know it can get hard with a lot of followers, but you do notice when people comment and say kind things. I love Instagram because I feel it is a better way to get to know people."
The big idea: Interaction is critical to building your audience. Follow popular teacher hashtags, comment on photos that engage you, start a conversation, and don't be afraid to reach outside of your social media circle! When you ONLY like and comment on the same people's posts, your followers may flash back to high school and cliques :) Social media is supposed to be SOCIAL, so push yourself to interact!
The reason we have business accounts on different social media platforms is ultimately to promote our brand, but knowing how and when to do it is important!
Your business twitter account and Facebook page are great places to advertise a new product, or flash sale you're having! Remember it should still be in moderation, but it's where these announcements are expected to be made.
Your IG account requires a bit more of a balancing act. If all you post is pictures of your computer screen of product teasers, flash freebies, sales, and updated bundles, you are neglecting the personal aspect of Instagram that draws so many to this platform. Check out users with a large following and see study their ratios on different platforms! It's a very informative exercise!
Plain and simple: Give credit where credit is due! If you repost someone's meme/quote, give them credit in your comment, or use an app like "Repost" to do the job for you. If you use someone's button to promote your store, tag them in your comment as a nod to their hard work. If you are using someone's product in your classroom and it's visible in your photo, give them a shout out! People notice when you demonstrate integrity, and it makes your followers that much more trusting of you and your brand.
Rants: Ranting about students, parents, or other teachers is a big no! We all encounter difficult days, or even years, but don't vent about it over the internet. Processing your emotions is important, and the teaching profession is an emotional one! It's just important to remember that the internet is not the place to do that. Not only is it unprofessional, it will not make you feel better.
Sharing Student Photos/Work: Again, people have different views on this. I choose not post pictures of my students faces, but I know that many respected teachers do, with permission of their student's parents of course! If you choose not to include student faces, it doesn't mean that you can't include photos of learning in action. Apps like 'A Beautiful Mess' and 'Photo Editor' make it easy to place images over student faces, while allowing the rest of the picture to speak for itself. When sharing student work, it's difficult. I personally post student work to show projects and things that we are learning. I also post cards from students that make my heart melt. I make sure to maintain confidentiality by removing ALL names and signifiers. However, some users may feel like this is still an invasion of privacy. Know that if you choose to include student work and photos, you may lose some potential followers. However, you will lose many more if you are unprofessional in what and how you share.
Language: Your words represent your brand. Always remember this! Choose your words carefully and make sure to be professional. Don't curse, don't name-call, and don't promote hate. I don't mean that you should use the same language you would when writing a cover letter! Absolutely not! Your audience is looking for the fine balance between "BFF speak" and "professional teacher speak." Your words will last forever on the internet, and what you say can have an impact on both your career and the image of the brand you have created.
Drinking: I have mixed feelings about this one. This past weekend I posted a photo of my hubby and I celebrating our anniversary at our favorite brunch place on the ocean with two oyster martinis. Now, some may have a problem with this, others don't. Personally, I feel that there is a big difference between that photograph and one of you with a red solo cup with your eyes half closed. I choose to see it through this lens: If you wouldn't be comfortable with a future employer seeing the photo, then don't post it! I'm okay with a future employer seeing me toast to a wonderful relationship on a weekend getaway, so I posted it!
There is something special about the online teacher community. Coming from the cut-throat world of sales, my husband is always amazed by how excited we are for one another, and how happy we are to promote each other. When I first started on TpT, he didn't understand why I would go onto the TpT forums and celebrate other teacher's milestones, or offer support to a teacher posing a question. To someone who is not a part of this community, those teachers are supposed to be "my competitors."
This community is different, and it's why I love it so much! We are a support network and we rely on each other for inspiration and positivity. That means that part of your job as a member of this community to is spread smiles yourself. That doesn't mean that you can't share your dread of waking up on the Monday after vacation, because most of us are right there with you :) However, you are expected to like, comment, and post with the intention of supporting this community.
This came up a few times in the responses I received. Giveaways are definitely trending right now! Some popular methods include Rafflecopters and IG loops. An engaging giveaway is a great way to gain new followers and thank your existing followers for their support. However, many people are deterred by large amount of participants, having to scroll through seemingly infinite list/loop of accounts to like or follow. Throwing an occasional giveaway is awesome and highly encouraged. Just remember that you are engaging teachers, and they are likely using the last ounce of energy they have left in them to enter, before passing out on the couch!
Teacher shaming is something that really gets under my skin, and it became clear from the responses I received that I am not alone! What do I mean by teacher shaming? It's hard to explain, so I thought I would instead create a few examples:
"Mondays aren't hard for people that love their job!" Well first, this isn't true, because you can absolutely LOVE your job and still miss the weekend! Same goes with returning from winter or spring break, or summer vacation. Don't shame teachers into feeling that they are sub-par because leaving their own kids to watch someone else's kids is hard for them. Don't shame teachers into feeling like enjoying a few extra minutes of sleep is unacceptable! Yes, teaching is a calling, but we are still all humans and are entitled to enjoy our time away from work just like EVERYONE ELSE!
"Don't complain about being exhausted, because your kids are exhausted too!" This teacher shaming quote could easily be turned around into something positive like, "We know you're tired! We know your students don't!" The first quote would have shamed a good portion of your following, making them feel bad for telling someone they're tired! It's a tiring job, and other teachers should be the ones listening and supporting, not tearing each other down. The second quote does exactly that!
We are following YOU for a reason, and that's who we want to see. Don't pretend to be someone you're not. Users can see through false pretences! Your audience is looking for genuine posts and sincere comments. We should be able to hear YOUR voice in every comment. In the words of Oscar Wilde, "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
I hope this Top 10 Social Media Do's & Don'ts helpful! I want to thank everyone who took time to share their thoughts on the subject, and making this post possible! I truly love this online teacher community!
**The beautiful social media icon sketches used in this post were designed by the talented Ken of http://www.kenlonseth.com**