Online Teaching Blog

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Why Social Media Groups for Online Professors are the Best Thing about Social Media

Why Social Media Groups for Online Professors are the Best Thing about Social Media

by Tara Ross
November 10, 2015

It’s easy to get overwhelmed on social media, what with the status updates, the trending terms, the promotional posts, and Facebook changing the rules every other day. Do you remember when social media was social? That’s right…once upon a time, social media used to be about reconnecting with your friends from high school, sharing pictures of your kids, and learning about where your neighbors were traveling for vacation. I have good news for you, though: there are places in the social media universe where you can connect with others who share your interests. They are called social media groups.

If you have followed Dani Babb for very long, you likely know that she was a trailblazer for social media groups with her Yahoo mailing list, her Facebook groups, her LinkedIn groups, and her Twitter lists for her ExclusiveEDU community. Social media groups such as the Make a Living Teaching Online on Facebook and LinkedIn allow online professors and those who want to be online professors the opportunity to come together and share best practices, stories from the classroom, and network for job openings.

Social media groups are still the best thing going in social media. They help you get connected, share your expertise, and find jobs in online education. Use these best practices and avoid these common pitfalls so that you can achieve your career goals.

Social Media Groups for Online Professors

Like all of social media, though, groups are a double-edged sword. Social media groups – especially those that revolve around a particular industry or job – have influencers, hiring managers, and detractors. Who you attract and align yourself with will determine your success with your social media and job seeking endeavors. Here are some suggestions to get the most out of your social media group experience:

Introduce yourself

If you are just joining a group, it’s easy to be a lurker. Consider joining and introducing yourself. Share what you hope to get out of the group and how you can help others.

Provide value first

Don’t go into a group thinking, “it’s all about me.” Share interesting content you found on the Internet, provide help to others if it is within your area of expertise, and promote group members by sharing their accomplishments or ideas.

Don’t be a victim

here are few things that will keep you off the hiring manager’s radar more than portraying yourself as a victim of downsizing, of the industry, of a particular company, of vindictive students, or of a boss who didn’t like you. Those in a position to hire you want to see that you are resilient, creative, positive, and professional.

Ask for permission first

Have a product or service you want to promote? Remember that the group does not belong to you unless you created it. As a group owner myself, I can tell you that building a group takes time and effort. Therefore, it is frustrating when someone comes in and just promotes their products without asking permission first. Just ask. If you get permission, be sure to mention that in your promotional post.

Remain upbeat and positive

People want to hang out with those who are kind, positive, funny, helpful, sincere, and authentic. Leave your bad mood offline. Some “water cooler” chat is normal, but a steady diet of it will leave group members tired of your presence. Find a helpful tip or a funny cartoon you want to share that’s relevant to the topic of the group? Do it!

Reach out

The real benefits of social media groups come in when you can start making personal connections with certain members. Start a conversation with them in a reply to a post. Seek a friend request. Connect with them on a different platform. In truth, I have made most of my connections for my career in social media groups. They can be extremely powerful and effective.

Consider making your own social media group around your entrepreneurial goals or personal interests. Facebook and LinkedIn groups are extremely easy to set up. Avoid adding people to the group who did not specifically request it, though. You can send them invitations or just share in an existing group (with the group owner’s permission) that you have a new group that people are welcome to join. Write social media posts about your group and even add the URL to your email signature if it is appropriate. In addition to Facebook and LinkedIn, you can create Twitter lists (which are collections of Twitter users grouped together to make a personalized Twitter stream of just their tweets). You can also create groups on Reddit as well as shared boards on Pinterest.

Have fun and get connected. Social media groups are still the best thing going in social media.