Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Online Learning Networks/Communities - How do you build them?

I just had a very surreal moment - searching for articles/information on online learning and communication and the ONE article I have written came up in my search. Pretty funny, as I had forgotten about it...it was a while ago....2007. It was done for one of my doctoral classes and we were encouraged to submit for publishing, and it was published in Learning & Leading with Technology (August, 2007) - Turning Lurkers into Learners Anyway, just a funny weird experience....and a reminder I need to be trying to publish more, as that is what people with doctorates are suppose to do, right? Yikes! Better get writing.

Enough of the shameless self-promotion. The reason WHY I was doing this search actually was because I was trying to gather information on how to increase my online learning community participation and exposure. I write this blog, contribute to my company's blog,post to Twitter (@vpigreenie), post on my company's and my own Facebook (though not too frequently, as my family and friends will attest) and yet I have very few followers in all locations. (Remember my Emily Dickinson posting "This is my letter to the world that never wrote to me...") So, I am really curious about what it is that gets someone noticed in the social media world where you truly do develop a following and interactive communication. What am I not doing that I should be doing?

What have I found in my search that has made a difference? Not much so far, but I have only recently begun investigating this as I have grown tired of writing to myself... Clearly, it could be that what I have to say is not interesting, but I am not willing to entertain THAT theory yet!!! It has only been a couple of months. Anyway, here are a few things I have found and have tried and the results:

1) Twitter - definitely need to do more than just post links to articles or retweet. You need to RESPOND to others tweets, make comments, retweet with a twist (meaning retweet but add your own commentary to it...RT)/. I just recently starting doing this and have increased my following by a few folks already and more importantly, have been retweeted by others and have had some comments back. Lesson here: a community of one is NOT a community. Nobody wants to 'listen' to you if you don't want to listen to them.
2) Shamelessly promote yourself where you can. So, link to your blog on Twitter, reference your Twitter on Facebook and your blogs, push your blog on your other blog. It's all about getting your name out there and links so that people at least have the urge to check it out. Hopefully they will read and stay and become a follower.
3) Shamelessly promote others and let them know that you are pushing them on your blog, Twitter, Facebook...wherever. They will come check it out and then push others to your blog and your Twitter as a way of shamelessly promoting themselves. It's that old exponential growth thing - if you tell two people, they'll tell two people, and they'll tell two people and so on and so on.
4) Start participating in online discussion forums - it gets your name out there, shows you have some insights (well...we hope), and more importantly, it's another venue where you can shamelessly promote yourself!

There are other hints and tips....I found a great article/blog the other day that someone posted but forgot to mark the link, so I will hunt it down and share next posting. But...if anyone is actually out there reading this and has some other suggestions for me, I would appreciate it. Write a comment - it would be lovely to know I am not alone! My goal is to become viral...which, if you think about it, is kind of a weird goal, who wants to be a virus? But the truly well-known bloggers and Tweeters are that - viral - everywhere and resistant!

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