What’s Your Social Media Strategy?

These days you can’t visit a website without seeing the icons for Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and the like. So many channels, so little time. How do we manage all the information coming at us? How can we use social media in meaningful ways?

Identify your Social Media Strategy by considering the following questions:

  1. Which information is most important to you?
  2. How can you most efficiently obtain information you want?
  3. At what level will you contribute?

#1 – Which information is most important to you?

This question helps you answer which type(s) of social media you may want to use.

  • FaceBook: A catch all for anything and everything. A kind of social media playground.
  • GooglePlus – like Facebook, but generally less noisy
  • LinkedIn: Professionally focused; your career network.
  • Twitter: on the fly updates, like a newsfeed ticker; can be used personally or professionally
  • Etc…

Next, you need to ask yourself a fundamental question: Why do you spend time on one or more of these social networks?

  • Are you just bored and curious about what’s on going in the world?
  • Do you want to keep up with friends?
  • Are you hoping for useful bits of information?
  • Are you looking to connect with people who are interested in the same things you are?

Most people get on social media because they like the idea of being in the loop, and connecting with others who have similar interests. Social media is supposed to help us be 1) more informed and 2) more connected to the people and things we care about. Unfortunately, it often falls short.

#2 – How can you most efficiently obtain information you want? 

Most folks don’t take the time to strategically consider this question. They just join a few social media networks and hope for the best. Then they find they aren’t finding the information they want and feel frustrated. So, let’s take a look how social networks can be used more efficiently.

You Just Want to Browse

You are:

  • Bored and curious about what’s going on in the world.
  • Want to keep up with friends.

You can spend all day trying to “keep up” with social media feeds. If you are attempting to “keep up,” how much time are you will to invest? 10 minutes every morning? 20 minutes at lunch?

Some key strategies for using social media to stay in the loop:

  • Generally limit the amount of time you spend scrolling through the main (aggregate) social media feeds.
  • On Facebook: Visit friends’ individual FaceBook pages. Main social media feeds are messy and you may miss important updates anyway.
  • Notifications: How much time are you spending following notifications? Is it worth it? Consider turning them off.

Be Efficient:
Directly Access the People you Care About

Limit Time Spent

You Want a More Narrow Focus 

You want:

  1. Useful bits of information.
  2. Connections to people that are interested in the same things.

How much information on FaceBook is actually useful to you? What about on LinkedIn? Some key strategies for increasing the usefulness of your networks:

  • On LinkedIn: Connect with professionals who are interested in the same things you are and who actively contribute to the network. You will then find more interesting and relevant articles/updates in your feed.
  • On FaceBook: Join specific groups that are likely to share the information you are interested in, i.e. community groups, school groups, hobby groups, etc. Visit these group pages directly and skip the general FaceBook feed.

Be Efficient:
Skip “Main” Feeds
Purposefully Grow Your Network to Include Like-Minded People
Join Groups

#3 – At what level will you contribute?

Contributions are what make a social media network worth using. If no one contributed to the conversation, there would be nothing to follow. If you join a social network, you should actively contribute in some way.

Examples:

  • On FaceBook: Will you just follow the posts of others or contribute posts of your own?
  • On LinkedIn: Will you just read articles or write and share some articles as well?

Social Media and Online Learning

It is also important for online course designers to develop a social media strategy. By enrolling in an online course, online learners are essentially participating in their own private social media network with classmates.

It is helpful to consider the same key questions:

  • How will you help learners find information that is most important to them? Information must be logically organized so learners can easily identify topics and ideas of interest. In addition, larger classes will benefit from the creation of groups.
  • How will learners with limited time efficiently obtain important information?
    Ask learners share on more focused topics so that they discuss what is most important.
  • At what level should learners be asked to contribute?
    Studies have shown that learners who actively contribute (demonstrate what they’ve learned), learn the most. Are you asking your learners to actively and frequently participate in online learning activities?

Social media’s usefulness is largely determined by how you approach it – use it purposefully and your network can have great value.

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Learn Online & Bust a Move

Get_Up_And_Get_Moving

This is an important revelation for online learners – read carefully now – you don’t have to sit in front of your computer in order to get your work done! “What?” you think, “How is that possible??” Keep reading, it’s definitely possible. Don’t sacrifice your health and well being while you are learning online.

Below are some tips on how to stay physically active while learning online:

  1. For beginners: Use a text-to-speech program (program that reads on screen text aloud)
  2. For the serious and committed: Invest in a fitness desk (a desk that allows you to exercise -walk or bike – while you are working)

Beginning to Get Movin’

“But, I have so many articles to read,” you say, “I just can’t get up from my desk!” Yes, you can! If you have a smartphone or tablet, it’s quite easy. Even with a less portable technology like a laptop or a FULL desktop computer, you, too, can get moving!

First things first, you need to have the right equipment, namely:

  1. Technological device of your choosing – smartphone, tablet, computer
  2. Text-to-Speech program (reads on screen text aloud)

Text_To_Speech

“Wait, a second,” you say, “Text to speech? I don’t want to listen to a voice that sounds like a robot!! That won’t work for me.” Text-to speech programs have come a LONG way in the last decade and especially in the last few years. You used to have to pay a premium for pleasant sounding voices. Today, quality voices (easy on the ears) are automatically included with low cost text-to-speech programs.

“Low cost?” you ask, “How much money are we talking here?”
My favorite text-to-speech program is only $10!! It has all the features I want. This program reads web articles if I provide the link. It reads the documents I upload to my Dropdrox. I can highlight and tag the text I want to archive. And what is the name of this fabulous program?

VoiceDream, iPhone, $10

VoiceDream

There certainly are a variety of text-to-speech programs out there. I invite you to explore what’s available for your specific tech device and operating system.

When do I use VoiceDream, my preferred text-to-speech program? While I’m doing household chores that don’t require much concentration (laundry, dishes, you get the idea). While I’m walking the dog. In commute. There are so many uses for text-to-speech. It truly allows you to “learn on the go.”

If you do have a desktop computer, you can crank up the volume and do some stretches and calisthenics near your desk. While you are listening instead of reading, you are free to get up from your chair. A smartphone just gives you greater reach — grab your phone, a pair of headphones, and your dog. You are ready to hit the streets while getting a little studying done as well 🙂

Breaking a Sweat (for the Committed and Ambitious)

“Well, that’s great,” you think, “but I feel like I need my keyboard in order to be productive.” Again, you do have options with a bit of creative forethought and planning.

A colleague told me about this idea and I love it — the Treadmill Desk. Work at your computer while walking on your treadmill. If you already have a treadmill, you can rig up a board across it and, voila, you have a place to set your computer.

fitness_desk_treadmillfitness_desk_bike

The basics on how to get started:

  1. Figure out how to turn your treadmill (or other piece of fitness equipment) into a desk. You can also buy a treadmill desk from a retailer. Here are a couple of good resources:

How to Quickly and Easily Build a Treadmill Desk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx0b75E5j50

The Best Treadmills Desks (Consumer Reports): http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/11/best-treadmill-desks/index.htm

  1. Place computer on top of fitness desk.
  2. Start walking at a very low setting. (probably the very lowest setting – be safe!)
  3. Get comfortable. At first, just try walking and reading. Then see if you can manage some clicks.
  4. Try Some Typing. Once you’re comfortable, you can try typing while you’re exercising. It sounds like it might be difficult, but with training, you’ll find it’s pretty easy.

CAVEAT: Just remember to stop when you begin feeling fatigued. That’s when an accident is most likely to happen.

Keep these tips in mind and online learning will not deteriorate your fitness level. In fact, you will probably find those dog walks a lot more interesting. And if you invest in a fitness desk, you’ll likely find yourself feeling invigorated and even more ready to tackle your online coursework.