Sharing is something that all human beings need to effectively know how to do. It begins with teaching toddlers to share their toys, and from there it never ends. As those toddlers turn in to teenagers who turn in to college students, they learn a new type of sharing that is important in the digital age: social sharing. Being able to share things effectively in the social media world is important for students to understand, as it helps them better their personal brands and recognition.
Teaching sharing is not hard, and teaching your students how to effectively share things on social media is important for their overall grasp of understanding social media. Teach your students good sharing practices, and they’ll be better prepared in the digital world.
You’ve seen it on hundreds of Twitter profiles across the web: professionals stating that a retweet on their personal Twitter isn’t an endorsement of what they’re tweeting and that retweets don’t reflect their views. If what you’re retweeting doesn’t reflect your views, why are you tweeting it? Make sure your students know the importance of what it is that they put on their social media pages, and how what they share looks to people on the outside looking in.
Students who want to look good to prospective employers may share articles non-stop. Bombarding followers with information is no way to effectively share things on social media. You’ve probably looked at someone’s Twitter timeline and seen nothing but retweets of articles, only to wonder what where this person’s voice is. Stress the importance of moderation on social media. Make sure your students know that with every article they share, they should share their unique insight to go along with that article. Posting your insight on an article you share gives the people that do the hiring a look into your brain.
Your students know as well as you do that the authenticity of things on the web isn’t always fantastic. Teach your students to understand the importance of knowing the facts about something before sharing it with their followers. Often times, no thought is given when sharing a cool picture or story on social media. That’s when we end up with situations like what happened recently when dozens of fake pictures of Hurricane Sandy were tossed around the web. Being duped by a fake picture is usually harmless, but if your students were to share fake things with more importance, there could be fallout. Stress to your students the importance of fact checking when sharing things on social media.
When it comes to sharing things on social media, there’s a lot to be said about sharing personal things. While privacy is a big concern, personal image should be too. Your students should understand the difference between posting an image to Twitter and posting that same image to Facebook. Privacy considerations aside, using your “professional” Twitter to post pictures of your lunch will only make you look less professional. Additionally, having a “professional” Twitter page shouldn’t be something your students should be doing. Stress to your students that if they wouldn’t share it with the world, they probably shouldn’t be sharing it at all.
Lastly, make sure your students know that they should share things to start discussions. This goes for any professional field, as facilitating discussion is a great way for your students to be noticed. This includes responding to things that others have shared by adding a unique perspective, and backing that perspective up. Encourage the creation and use of hashtags amongst multiple social networks. Friendly discussion is different than inciting an argument, as your students should already know.
Author Abby Evans is a journalist and social media expert, currently writing for professionalseoconsultant.com. You can connect with Abby on Google+.