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Regular Visitor

This post was written as part of the Humans of IT Guest Blogger series, featuring everyday Humans of IT with helpful #LifeSkills to share with the broader community. Today's guest blogger is Black Girls Code member Taylor-Rae Collins-Headley, who shares her tips and tricks on engaging your audience and building community through social media. 

 

Meet Humans of IT Community and Black Girls Code member Taylor-Rae, who shares tips on social media skills and engaging with your audience!Meet Humans of IT Community and Black Girls Code member Taylor-Rae, who shares tips on social media skills and engaging with your audience!

 

Whether you’re looking to grow your professional network or secretly hoping to establish yourself as the next big techfluencer, you need to focus on creating an active and engaged online community eager for your content. In today’s social space, having a strong digital presence is integral to taking your IT or developer career to the next level.


How so? Having a robust social presence helps position you as a thought leader and one of the go-to experts in your field. While resumes are great and showcase your experience and expertise all in one (hopefully) easy to read document, they aren’t quite as dynamic and interesting as showing people from across the world what you know in real time.


Social media on the other hand allows you to do things like work on projects live with viewers, answer audience questions through Q&As, do screen-share tutorials/walkthroughs and mini lectures where you teach your audience about concepts your working on or tech/software that you’re developing.
The bonus is that once you start creating all that content, you’ll become much easier to find, research, and hire. When prospective employers or clients search your name or social media handles, everything you’ve created on your public account will be right there for them to see. They can learn more about you, engage with your knowledge, and see your impact on your community right from their phones or computers.


If that content goes viral, it will start to rank higher on search engines whether people specifically search your name or not. This helps you expand your professional network with peers, career connections, and other online community members. Plus, it keeps you at the top of people’s minds when they need someone with your specific skill set.


Now let’s talk about the types of content you can utilize on your social media accounts to help build your network and engage that audience. There are many social media platforms you can use, and each has their own particular audience and benefit, but here we’re going to talk about 3 of the most popular: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Facebook:

  • Pages

    • Facebook pages are like miniature hosted websites. You can go live, post text, photos or videos, allow people to book time with you directly, sell products or services, and create in-person or virtual events. This is the second-best space next to an actual website to show your audience everything you have to offer and interact with them through comments and reviews.
  • Facebook Live

    • Going live is one of the easiest ways to instantly connect with your online audience. You can start a live video from your personal profile, on your business page, or in a group. This can be especially useful for Q&A sessions, sharing updates with your audience, getting personal to build an emotional connection, or teaching them a new concept.
  • Groups

    • Groups are private communities you can create on Facebook to give your audience a space to share ideas, ask questions, and learn from you and each other. Just like Pages, you can go live, post content, and interact, but you get the added functionality of curating group membership with questions and rules, and posting files for download. This gives your content an air of exclusivity that will keep people coming back for more. 

Twitter:

  • Chats / TweetJams

    • Twitter chats are a great way to really get a feel for what your audience needs, what they think, and what they want to learn more about. Typically, a twitter chat consists of your account posting questions, with an accompanying graphic, and encouraging people to discuss their answers with you and each other in the replies. A great one to follow is the #womenintechchat.
  • Curated lists

    • Lists help you organize Twitter users into their own timeline based on any criteria you can think of regardless of whether you follow them or not. They can be public (people can view your list and are notified when they’re added to it) or private (no one can see who is on the list but you). You can curate and manage your own list of peers, industry contacts and companies you think you'd be a great fit for, industry media/influencers, or competitors in your field that you can watch to keep up with the most current info or share with followers to spread the knowledge!
  • Branded hashtags

    • Creating a brand hashtag like #talkwith[name] or #[businessname]chat or #Letstalk[concept] gives your followers, or anyone on twitter, the ability to easily find all the content you’ve created on a certain topic. This is also a great way to keep archives of Twitter chat questions and responses easy to find through search.

Instagram

  • Instagram Live

    • Similar to Facebook, going live on Instagram is a great way to engage with your audience. Instagram notifies your followers when you go live and places your broadcast right at the top of their feeds so that it’s easy to find. You can broadcast for up to 4 hours solo and even invite a colleague for a tech conversation or interview for up to an hour.
  • Stories

    • Stories (aka the IG version of Snapchat) can live for up to 24 hours at the top of your audience’s feed and be archived at the top of your profile permanently so that even new followers can catch your old content. You can use this as an opportunity to publicize events, give newcomers a welcome and introduction to who you are, post snapshots of your work/portfolio, or highlight any important awards or media mentions you’ve gotten.
  • IGTV

    • IGTV is Instagram’s attempt at a YouTube-like service with the ability to publish longer form videos up to 10 minutes or to republish saved live videos. This works best for pre-recorded content such as asking your community to submit questions for you to answer, having a "Dev with me" session where people can watch you code, or making sure people can still view parts of your live broadcasts after they’ve expired on your profile.

Getting started with social media, especially if you only use it personally with family and friends or you’re a bit shy about putting yourself out there can be a bit intimidating. Not to worry! Here a few tips to help you get started that have really helped me out when I was a beginner:

 

  • When you’re talking on camera, whether live or recorded, pretend that you’re only talking to one person that you’re comfortable with. If possible, have that person in the room while you record or in your live video comments cheering you on. It will help you relax and come off more naturally on camera.
  • You don’t have to post all the time! Try to start off with 2-3 times a week. Once you get the hang of it, increase that to once or twice a day. (You really don’t need much more than that and the engagement tends to level off or decrease with more posting). Focus on quality, not quantity.
  • Chances are, if people are tuning in regularly, they like you and want to learn from you! Don’t be shy about responding them, interacting with them, and getting to know the people who love your content. Chances are, they’ll be more likely to share your content with others.
  • Just jump in! There’s not a single person not named Kardashian or Jenner who was born knowing how to rule social media. It’s gonna be awkward at first, there’s gonna be a few technical difficulties, you may not get the kind of response you’re hoping for out of the gate. That’s ok. We all start somewhere.

The most important thing is to start. As your community grows and interacts with your content, you’ll learn what they need the most based on what they respond to and be able to use their feedback to help you create more of the posts, videos, and lives that they crave.

 

Good luck, and see you out in the socialverse!

 

#HumansofIT

#SocialMediaTips

#PersonalBranding

 

Taylor's handle across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is: @V3Inbound