It’s 2019, and I’m sure almost everyone knows how valuable social media has become, given the fact that you can connect with billions of people worldwide with a smartphone from the comfort of your house. The icing on the cake is that Social media has become a critical marketing tool for top companies and brands worldwide. Research shows that people spend more time on social media than television, giving rise to a lot of career opportunities like content creation, media management, digital marketing and, quite recently, Social media influencing. It is pretty common practice for big brands to approach renowned influencers to plug their messages into their content for a fee.
Software Engineers who truly believe in their ability to change the world through technology can leverage the power of social media and positively influence the technology ecosystem in Africa and the world at large. There are a lot of opportunities for Software Engineers on social media ranging from developer advocacy, influencer marketing, remote job opportunities to all-expense paid speaking engagements around the world. In the words of Tim Sanders, your network is your net worth. This means that you can positively influence the technology ecosystem, build your personal brand, increase your network and still make some money off social media. The challenge is how to build a personal brand and increase your network on any social media platform.
Let’s dive into how a Software Engineer or any professional can build a personal brand and increase their network on social media in 2019.
1. Blogging: Blogging entails writing about your experiences, opinions on areas of interests, events and passions. There are a ton of things a technology leader can write about: new technologies, career experiences, life lessons etc. Medium is a great place to start blogging and creating content because of the wide network of people that daily consume and create digital content there. Also, because it is free to create an account. It is pertinent, though, to have a personal website, because blogging on platforms you don’t own is like building a house on a land you don’t own. You can leverage platforms with a wide network of people like FreeCodeCamp to publish your technical articles and direct readers to your personal website. The goal is to attract enough traffic to your website and increase your SEO (search engine optimisation) ranking, so a lot of people can find your content easily.
2. Vlogging: Vlogging entails creating video contents about your experiences, opinions on areas of interests, events and passions. The leading vlog platform is Youtube. Instagram live feed and facebook live feed are also somewhere up there as useful platforms. A vlog is more engaging than a blog because videos tend to garner more attention. It’s also not difficult to set up vlog. All you need to do is to find or create a niche, buy a camera, create a youtube channel or an Instagram account and start making and posting awesome video contents. The good news is that you can combine vlogging and blogging on your personal website. Asides increasing your network, youtube pays you when you hit a certain milestone in viewership.
3. Twitter: This is the social media of choice for technology leaders but sadly a lot of Techies still don’t know how to take advantage of the platform to build a brand and increase their network. Your influence on Twitter is directly proportional to the quantity and quality of your followers. Your content will go as far as the followers you have. The importance of increasing your Twitter followers cannot be overemphasised. Increasing Twitter followership is an uphill task and needs a lot of dedication and commitment. This year I gained 400 followers in 4 months -- more than I’ve ever had since 2011 when I joined Twitter (I woke up late).
These are some ways to increase your Twitter followership:
1. Consistently create quality content: Find or create a niche then consistently create quality content and build your brand around the niche. Branding efforts will only yield results when you have a regular posting schedule. There are tools that will help automate your posting as long as you have content. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite help schedule your posts ahead of time. These tools also help in analyzing data from the content engagements so you can create better content and drive more engagements. You can also create a document to store quality content as soon as you get the inspiration.
2. Follow and engage people with a large network and influence: The easiest way to gain followers on Twitter is to engage on posts of other people with a large network. When someone with vast network tweets, the tweet will definitely gain a lot of popularity. You can take advantage of the persons popularity and intuitively contribute to the tweet and you might win over some of the person’s followers and also get the person’s attention.
3 Discover your target audience and initiate a Follow for Follow: Folks on Twitter will easily follow you when they know you will follow back. All you need do is to post an intuitive content and watch the reactions on the tweet. Follow everyone who likes or retweets your tweet. They will definitely follow back because they can relate to your content and your brand. Routinely weed your account by unfollowing those that refused to follow back and make sure that your followers are always more than your following it is a source of esteem. After some time your followership will begin to increase exponentially and you won’t need the follow for follow strategy again.
4 Be part of a developer/professional community: This gives you access to a wide network of people with common interests. I’ll assume that these communities have digital events with Twitter hashtags. Tweet about these events and include the official hashtags so other people at that event can see your tweet and connect with you. Whenever you have an opportunity to give a talk at such events make sure that you intuitively direct a lot of people to your Social media handles and website.
5. Promote your content and brand via social media ads: Social media branding comes with a lot of financial costs. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram paid ads helps take your content further and attract a lot of traffic. There are advert packages on each platform you can choose with package best fits your ad campaign and subscribe. Social media ads will expose your content to a large network of people and also provide insights on content engagement that can also help you increase the SEO ranking for your contents and website.
6. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a crucial tool for recruitment and professional networking. It's 2019, and I’m sure a lot of people know this, but a lot of people don’t know how to fully leverage the platform. Constantly update your profile with a recent and professional photo, recent career information like your current job position, description, achievements, education, skills and interests. Connect with a lot of professionals with common interests. Recruiters search for potential recruits by filtering industries/sectors and job positions make sure that you have updated the industry/sector and Job position sector of your profile.
7. Github: Github has become a single source of truth when it comes to determining a software engineer’s experience, exposure and skills. Constantly contribute to open-source projects and update your GitHub profile with your side projects. Always make sure that the ReadMe file for your projects is very descriptive containing information like the project’s tech stack and other details about the project. Also, Make sure that all your commits and contributions to private repos are showing -- it helps to display your activities, even if the repo is not accessible to the public.
I hope I was able to provide helpful information to help you leverage the power of social media to build an inestimable brand that will increase your network, job opportunities and help you positively influence the technology ecosystem in Africa and the world at large.