How Startups Can Become Social Media Influencers

We are excited to be recognized as one of the top 100 most influential ed-tech brands in the country! OK, we were a little bit off the top 100 coming in at #102, but it’s still pretty impressive for a company that’s only three years old. The top 50 include the Gates Foundation and IntelEducation and KQEDMindshift, which has done an amazing job connecting teachers to public media resources. The list was compiled by Onalytica, an influence relationship management company.

As a small company we are always trying to be part of the conversation around ed-tech, especially online. But it can be hard to find your way into the right conversation with the right audience or group. I know my 13-year-old knows her audience on Snapchat. But do I know mine? Here are three things I keep in mind–right fit, smart subjects and open conversation.

Finding A Good Match

When I look to get my thoughts and ideas out there in blogs and publications, I try and make sure they are the right ones for our message. When Education Week asked me to write this blog, the immediate answer was yes, because it makes sense. I’m the CEO of an ed-tech startup and have a front row seat to the process of growing a company.

When engaging with other bloggers, such as the Cult of Pedagogy, it’s a good fit because it looks to help teachers perfect their craft. Cult blogger Jennifer Gonzalez also tells inspiring stories about teaching and we love to be a part of that. I also like contributing to Getting Smart because the publication focuses on innovations in teaching and learning.

When figuring out the right fit for you and your brand think about where you can reach your audience and how you can also be growing your audience.

Tackling Smart Subjects

Don’t waste your influence in areas where you have none. I know that seems obvious, but there are many people who spread their “expertise” too far and wide and write and comment on many subjects. Know what you are good at and where you can make smart comments about important subjects that aren’t just passing fads.

I like to stick to what I know best, and write about storytelling in the classroom and how to use audio effectively, because that’s where my expertise lies as a former storyteller and a reporter. I know that students won’t learn if they aren’t engaged and there are many reasons why storytelling, especially audio storytelling, is good for the brain and learning.

Once you find your niche keep your target audience in mind every time you post, so you can always be relevant, helpful and informative.

Keep the Conversation Open

Social media is about starting or joining conversations. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what the value of social media brings to your company. We’ve found the greatest value of social media marketing is the ability to foster and engage with a community of other people. You can focus on giving your brand a personal voice and also begin to build relationships. Your startup can bring personality and a personal human side to your brand, which we’ve found to be very effective.

In my early days of reporting for public radio, my writing was not part of a conversation. I typically set the agenda by choosing the story, working on an angle that I found to be important or interesting, and then the story would air on the radio. An example of this was a story I did on the closing of Catholic parishes around Boston following a fall off in attendance. Only rarely would someone call or write me, sometimes an actual letter, to respond to one of my stories with a comment. Now there’s more immediate feedback, but journalism is still pretty much a one-way conversation.

When becoming a social media influencer, you must be intentional about where you post and be smart about what you post. Remember that you are part of a conversation and be open to give and take.

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5 thoughts on “How Startups Can Become Social Media Influencers

  1. Excellent article and even more relevant two years later in regards to influencers! We have partially republished your article with your reference to our student news post search at

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