What makes someone an expert in his or her field? The criteria are amorphous at best. Some legitimate industry wonders toil away in relative obscurity while others hide flimsy resumes behind winning interpersonal skills that produce an undeserved sense of reverence. In many cases, the goal is not so much trying to become an expert as it is trying to build one's reputation in hopes of securing a coveted job.
But the fast-growing word of social media has made it easier to calculate how and why people become experts in their respective field. Among the various measurements by which this is quantified is "influence," a metric that considers many different factors regarding your online following, interactions, value to your industry and quality of produced content relevant to that industry.
By developing one's influence online, it is possible to become a more visible and prominent member of your field. Ideally, increased influence through social media should allow a professional to create connections and new networking opportunities that could ultimately lead to a more rewarding career decision.
Influence as a measurement of employee value
A recent article published in Fast Company revealed how many companies are attempting to cash in on the challenge of defining influence in raw numbers. Many startup companies have developed complex algorithms that incorporate a wide range of variables produced from social media activity. The algorithms can then demonstrate a person's influence among their peers in any given industry.
This isn't an entirely new concept. Companies like Klout were among the first to try and order social media users in terms of their prominence and influence on their respective networks. Klout even attempts to categorize each user's type of social media participation. It identifies categories and topics in which users have demonstrated a certain expertise. The company is continually refining its math to make the influence scores more reflective of each account's imprint in social media.
But other companies are hoping their social influence data can be more useful to businesses and organizations seeking employees that are influential among their peers. Because the social media sphere is home to so many microspheres of industry professionals—including teachers—it's an easy place to build a professional reputation and enrich your career. Businesses also hope that employing highly influential people will improve their operations and fatten their overall product.
How teachers can benefit
Many teachers gain certifications, sponsor clubs and earn advanced degrees as ways to increase their value to their school, ultimately earning more money and positioning themselves for higher-level positions. Although it's a relatively new resource, social media can go a long way toward career advancements in education.
The opportunities are numerous. Teachers can source the advice of other professionals to solve problems in the classroom. They can reciprocate by offering their own guidance and feedback to others. Connections can be built through fellow students enrolled in online master degree programs. Relationships with other professionals are more easily maintained and tracked, and a teacher will be more visible to current and prospective employers and employees.
All of these social media uses grow influence. It's not an overnight change, but with time and dedication a teacher's influence through social media can be a very powerful asset that can open doors to new opportunities.
Although it's difficult to quantify the exact value of being a highly influential person in your field, there's no doubt that virtually any professional can benefit by becoming more visible and interactive among their peers. Social media is a great way to stay in the conversation and connect with others without the constraints of proximity. And in time, social media influence could become an asset you can leverage to become a department head, an educational leader or whatever hopes you have for your career.
About the author: Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. She writes on behalf of American InterContinental University. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.