Image by Shawn Henning under CC BY-SA 2.0

6 Ways to Get Back to School on Social Media

There is always more to learn when it comes to social media. Whether you’re a social media novice or expert, a student or a professor, there is always the potential to improve. With a new school  year just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to upgrade your skill set.

Here is a round-up of different ways you (and your peers) can take it upon yourself to improve your social media education with Hootsuite’s help.

#1: Give Yourself a Report Card

Twitter marketing strategy

Find out how you’re doing on Twitter, and challenge yourself to be better. Hootsuite’s Social Grader tool makes it simple to understand where you excel and where you can improve. The tool will provide a report card and suggest improvements in your weaker areas.

Use the grading tool to find out your current score, and challenge yourself to increase your social grade. You may be surprised about the areas you might need improvement in, including:

  • Reach: How big is your network (and impact)?
  • Engagement: Do you and your audience have a relationship where engagement and conversation flows both ways?
  • Profile Branding: Is your Twitter profile optimized and branded well?

#2: Participate in a Twitter Chat

If you haven’t participated in one before, engaging in a Twitter chat can definitely be a lesson in social monitoring and engagement. If you don’t understand what this means: “#HootChat AND (Q1 OR Q2 OR Q3 OR Q4 OR Q5 OR Q6 OR Q7 OR Q8 OR Q9 OR Q10 OR Q11 OR Q12) -RT”, it’s worth participating in a Twitter chat if only for the learning experience. Read more about rocking a Twitter chat with Hootsuite in this recent article. Main insights into successfully participating in a Twitter chat include:

  • How to organize your social media dashboard efficiently
  • Practicing improving your response time by answering questions quickly
  • Learning ways to engage with other Twitter chat participants and make meaningful connections

#3: Host a Twitter Chat

Use the knowledge you gained by participating in a Twitter chat and challenge yourself to host one yourself. Hosting a chat helps develop a different set of social media skills. Instead of just being engaged and participating in a community, you’ll also focus on being the ‘engager’ instead of the ‘engagee.’ Lessons learned by organizing your own Twitter Chat include:

#4: Go Back to School: Get Credentials and Self-Educate

Image by opacity via Flickr
Image by opacity via Flickr

You may not be learning about social media in school this fall, (if you are, make sure your professor knows about Hootsuite’s Higher Education Program) but you can always take yourself back to school with a variety of different ways.

Academia is playing close attention to the impact of credentials. @kfreberg @ekinsky @mjkushin @CarolynMaeKim @DR4WARD have researched the impact of social media certification programs on perspectives of students, professionals, and employers (published study available in Spring 2016) and found that those with certification are seen to be more credible, have more aptitude, and communicate a higher willingness to learn.

You can also find social media courseware and curricula to self-educate on subjects of your choice. In fact, Hootsuite has four sample curricula designed for the classroom that you can use to guide your own social media education:

#5: Use Twitter Lists: Find Your Own Social Media Teachers

A good way to understand best practices in social media is to learn by example. Twitter lists are great resources to help you find users that you can learn from.

For instance, Mashable’s Social Media Managers Twitter list gathers tweets from social media strategists. Subscribing to this list means you to see content from those Mashable considers to be worthy.

You can also use Twitter lists to keep on top of industry news. Twitter’s Official Twitter Accounts lists allows you to follow a feed with tweets only from their official accounts. Google has done the same with Google on Twitter, curating all the tweets from their official Google accounts on Twitter. So the next time a big industry move like Alphabet happens, you’ll be the first out of your friends to know.

Learn how to add Twitter Lists to your Hootsuite Dashboard in this #HootTip video:

Or view the step-by-step instructions here.

#6: Help Close the Digital Skills Gap

A study by Capgemini highlights a scary statistic: 90 percent of companies lack digital skills and only 46 percent of companies are investing in training to meet this need. Which means students, graduates, and professionals alike must invest their own time in bettering their digital skill set.

Help close this gap by:

  • Taking the initiative to educate yourself in essential social media skills (see Tips #1 through #5)
  • Keep yourself in-the-know with the latest in social media by following blogs from Hootsuite, Social Media Examiner, and Mashable
  • Help others get better educated in social media. Suggest to educators, academics, and professors that you know to teach social media in the classroom. Hootsuite has a free program they can apply for.

Learn More about Hootsuite’s Higher Education Program

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Social media is an industry characterized by rapid change, constant innovation, and huge growth. Make sure you stay on top of things through education!