Let’s take a quick glimpse at best practices for Michigan Tech faculty to follow when trying to grow a following on social media. These insights are geared toward faculty members using their using personal social media accounts to share research and thought leader content.
Growing Your Following
There are many ways to grow your following on social media platforms but we are going to focus on three digestible tactics– being a genuine follower, engaging with your followers, and sharing content.
1. Be a genuine follower
An important part of growing a following is following other accounts. A good place to start with following other accounts is taking a look at the Michigan Tech Social Media Directory. We have compiled list of active social media accounts that are related to Michigan Tech. For example, if you are a faculty member in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, it makes sense for your personal account to give the CFRES social media accounts a follow.
After you’ve assessed which Michigan Tech accounts you want to follow, think about your field of interest. Look for other social media accounts that interest you and that you want to engage with. A popular account that many faculty members follow for the latest news, discoveries, and funding opportunities is the National Science Foundation. Think about the communities you are part of and follow them on social media. Some other ideas for social media accounts to follow could include any local community groups, advisory boards, councils, academic societies, government agencies you are part of. It’s possible that these groups listed have a social media presence– it could be a great fit for you to follow them.
2. Engaging with your followers
Part of creating a presence on social media includes engaging with other accounts. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation and establish connections with your audience. It’s not necessary to engage with everyone, but liking and commenting on others posts is a great way to show your personality and expertise. Engaging with your followers and other users helps to boost your content and expands your profiles reach. The algorithm on most social media platforms rewards engagement (i.e. commenting, liking, sharing content).
3. Sharing Content
When thinking about creating content it helps to take a step back and ask yourself a couple of questions.
1. Who, what, when, where, why?
2. What is one main key takeaway I want my followers to gain from this content?
Once you’ve answered those questions, then think about the type of post it is going to be. Also, take a look at our social media field guide. This is a great place to gather more platform specific information.
Types of Posts:
Sharing news on campus/departmental events along with articles from reliable sources is one way to add value to your following. This is especially key if you are sharing content that is related to your area of expertise. Let’s say a researcher at another institution publishes a paper related to your field. Don’t hesitate to share it, tag the researcher, and add your thoughts or praise as an expert.
Data being communicated and partnered with a compelling narrative is where Michigan Tech faculty can truly shine. If applicable and allowable, share your own insights from data you’ve acquired in research. Share data that other faculty members in your college and at Michigan Tech have gathered. What does the data you are sharing mean? Think about the best way to simplify and communicate your data. Sharing accurate and reliable data from trusted sources adds to your presence as a thought leader and combats the problem of mis information online.
We’ve all seen the memes about Dogecoin or an adorable kitten. Social media is also a place to have some fun, entertain and even inspire your followers. If most of your content online is related to your area of expertise, that’s okay! If most of your social media content is photos of your dog, that’s okay, too! Think about what you want your accounts to be and how you want to use them. In our experience, adding personality and backstory to a post boosts engagement. It’s okay to share a tasteful and funny meme or a Buzzfeed quiz where you learned which Disney character you are. Just know that your followers want to get to know you. You can be positioned as a thought leader in your field on social media while also being a huge fan of cross country skiing and cat memes.
While this opinion posts can gain a lot of engagement, it can also be risky to share strong and controversial opinions. Tread lightly around sensitive topics and share opinions with evidence to support your thoughts. One thing that MTU social suggests doing on a personal account is placing something like “Opinions are my own” in your profile bio. This way your opinions are separate from the institution you work for. Find an example below.
Notes for the Road:
Here are a few more pointers to think about related to your social media accounts.
- Check for spelling, grammatical and factual errors. In this case, do think twice, it’s alright. (Bob Dylan reference anyone?)
- Before pressing post, take a moment to think. Use your best judgement and think about how you want to be perceived as a professional online.
- Post, engage and share content frequently but also sustainably. What is sustainable for you when posting online is the most important when trying to grow a following.
- Identify influencers in your field and study how they engage with their audience and content.
- Pay attention to your top performing posts and think about why they were successful. Try similar content to what has worked for you in the past while also paying attention to new social media tactics.
- Reach out to MTU social if you have questions. We love being a helping hand with social media related questions. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.