On the first day of class, when I asked the students in our Nutrition Communication course at Purdue to share why they had picked their major, the most common answer was a variation of “to make a difference” or “have a positive impact.”
Good answer. The nutrition profession is in good hands.
How can nutrition professionals make a difference?
In the past, to make a difference, a nutrition professional would invest many hours meeting one-on-one or in small groups. That remains an immensely valuable investment.
However, we now have a channel that can reach virtually anywhere and is both affordable and accessible. Through social media, one person can have a big impact with a much smaller investment in time or resources. For a high-impact ROI (return on investment), social media is unrivaled.
A term coined for those who make a big impact via social media is “influencer.” For this reason, I chose to title my most recent tip sheet: “5 Tips for Using Social Media for Impact and Influence.”
If used wisely, social media can be a force for good. When credentialed food and nutrition professionals share evidence-based messages, we are able to counter the endless onslaught of misinformation.
Did you know the average time spent on social media is 2 hours a day?! That is a significant time investment! Ask yourself, is the time I invest making a difference? Am I having the impact and influence I can and should?
5 Tips for Using Social Media for Impact and Influence:
Tip #1 Be purposeful
Determine your reasons for participating in social media: Is it to share information? To network? To connect with family, friends, or colleagues? To follow others? To promote ideas, programs, or services?
Once you know your reasons, select the platform or platforms best suited to each one. For some platforms you may need both personal and professional accounts.
Tip #2 Be authentic
Each platform requires its members to create a profile. Thoughtfully select usernames, images, and a bio that authentically reflects you, your brand, and the purpose you selected for each platform.
Be inspired by others on social media, but be yourself. Consider what you can offer and how you can engage your audience for impact and influence while being YOU.
Tip #3 Be engaged
Social media is only as effective as it is social. What makes it “social” is engagement. Engagement provides content – creative, well-crafted, accurate, and useful to the audience.
It also solicits conversation, promotes further engagement, and expands connections. An engaged social media member doesn’t just lurk – they create, react, comment, and share.
Tip #4 Be consistent
If you want to build an audience and make a difference via social media, you need to show up. Sporadic posts and infrequent comments do not grow a following, either organically or via social media algorithms.
Create a social media plan that is realistic for you. Concentrate on one platform at a time until you have a predictable schedule for engagement; then engage consistently.
Tip #5 Be respectful
Social media can be a wonderful opportunity for connection and communication, but it also can be fraught with misinformation and unprofessional or unethical behavior.
When posting content or commenting and reacting to others, a professional maintains respect and a civil tone, even to people and posts that are inaccurate or rude. Engage respectfully.
Bonus tip: Be Safe!
A recent experience online has prompted me to add a bonus tip: Be Safe! Just this week I received a message on LinkedIn that amounted to a solicitation for a romantic relationship. When I replied with my marital status of 40+ years and that I was a grandmother, he quickly severed our connection. There are apps and sites dedicated to dating. LinkedIn is definitely not one of them.
How disconcerting! It has been decades since I’ve worried about being hit on. It made me realize how dangerous a place social media can be, especially for those of you in your 20s and 30s. Make connections, but do it safely! Check out this great list of ways to stay safe online.
Social media allows anyone to publish and widely disseminate information via the internet. It provides a means to connect with people both personally and professionally anywhere, anytime, on a variety of platforms. Maximize your impact and influence with the 5 tips in free Tip Sheet #19.
“Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.”
~ Dave Willis
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