Dr. Sarah Eaton

Professor, Author and Researcher

Dr. Sarah Eaton - Professor, Author and Researcher

How I built a loyal, engaged Twitter following

Sarah Eaton TwitterThere’s a myth about Twitter followers. You don’t need more followers. You want more engaged followers.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2009. I spent probably 9 months figuring out what it was all about and how to use it. Then, I started looking at other people’s followings and wondering how they did it. That’s when I learned that some people literally buy followers, by paying into a service. Everyone who pays into the service follows each other. That inflates your following. But to me, those kinds of followers don’t mean anything. And I didn’t want them.

I wanted engaged followers: people who would have online conversations with me, retweet my Tweets, read my posts, make comments, offer suggestions. I wanted to interact with my followers.

I began making a conscious effort to increase my engagement levels and reciprocity.

Here’s how I did that:

  1. I used a service that allowed me to schedule my Tweets and included a dashboard so I could monitor conversations. I use Hootsuite, but there are other ones out there, too.
  2. Be consistent. I Tweet every day. Even if I’m in meetings all day, I still Tweet.
  3. Selective and strategic sharing. I make a point to share resources that I think others will enjoy and find useful.
  4. Regular retweeting. I repost interesting Tweets and give others credit for them.
  5. Original posts. I share my own material on a regular basis — but not too often.
  6. Watch your ratios. It can’t be a constant stream of output. You need to balance your output and asks with responses, acknowledgements and retrweets. Don’t expect others to share your stuff if you don’t share and acknowledge theirs.
  7. Have conversations. I engage with others in conversations about what is important to them.
  8. Block and report spammers. I nip these folks in the bud. I have no problem reporting spammers and neither should you.
  9. Follow back selectively. I don’t follow everyone who follows me. I follow people and organizations who seem to have legitimate profiles on topics I’m interested in.
  10. Vary the Tweet topics – within a selected range. I Tweet about a lot of stuff, mostly to do with education, training, literacy and social media.
  11. Acknowledge and appreciate your Tweeps. They don’t have to follow you, retweet your stuff or give you a shoutout, you know. Showing appreciation helps build good digital relationships.
  12. Random acts of kindness. Promote a good cause. Mention a friend’s business. Give someone you don’t know a public compliment or shoutout.

As a result of these strategies, here’s what has happened:

  1. I’ve connected with people in real life. We go for coffee. We share ideas and laugh.
  2. I get retweeted every day… sometimes up to 20 or 30 times per day. This leads me to new people. If I think they’re interesting. I follow them. Sometimes, they follow me back.
  3. I’ve been offered work. Tweeps have contacted me to ask me to present at conferences and take on projects. Never was I more surprised than when I was offered a contract to build an evaluation system for an educational organization via a connection that originated on Twitter.
  4. I’ve learned tons. I check out new resources and share them freely. In the process, I stay on top of what is happening in my field. I’m current and up to date. Must of it is thanks so Twitter and social media.
  5. My understanding of social media has deepened considerably. Social media changes quickly, but for those who are new to it or still working to really understand what it is and how it can work for them, it is important to know that there are some fundamentals. One of those is that building an engaged following is much more important than just building a following.

If you liked this post, you’d probably like my Tweets, too. Let’s connect on Twitter.


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Are you looking for a speaker for your next event? Book me (Sarah Eaton) for your next event (either live or via webinar)! Contact us for details. Follow Dr. Sarah on Twitter.

How to do a Screen Capture on Your Mac (video tutorial)

Last week in the Build Your Own Webinar course that I’m teaching we were talking about the various ways to make your slides and handouts engaging. If you are demonstrating something technical, one of the ways to show people what you mean is to include a screen capture from your computer.

There are a number of Mac users in the course and one of them asked how to do a screen capture (also called a “screen shot”).

So, here’s a quick video tutorial on how to do just that. Jennifer, this one is for you.


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Are you looking for a speaker for your next event? Book me (Sarah Eaton) for your next event (either live or via webinar)! Contact us for details. Follow Dr. Sarah on Twitter.

21 Photos you should never post on social media (especially if you’re looking for a job)

I have been working with a variety of organizations on social media strategies, tactics and plans this year. Part of the learning curve involves getting a handle on exactly what we should post on social media. The flip side is knowing what not to post.

One of the toughest questions relates to photographs. Staff at every level, as well as students and volunteers need to be very, very clear that once their photos are posted on line, they immediately leave a “digital footprint”.

In Vancouver earlier this year there was a riot after the city’s hockey team lost the final game of the 2011 Stanley Cup. Photos posted online have been used to identify those involved in the incident. There’s even a Facebook page called “Vancouver Riot Pics: Post Your Photos” and a similar website that police are reportedly scanning to gather evidence against alleged rioters.

In addition to photos taken of just about anyone, by anyone else, at a public event, pictures can also be copied by just about anyone, saved and then re-shared again via e-mail or other postings. Oh yeah, and in between the point when they are saved and re-distributed, they can also be Photoshopped. Think about that for a minute… That means anything you post on line can be saved by someone else and altered in any number of ways beyond your wildest dreams.

Last month, in the United States, the federal government essentially condoned a new start-up company whose core business is to screen prospective employees for companies, by scouring their digital and social media footprints.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t post photos. It just means that you want to be very savvy about what you put out there in cyberspace. Avoid photos that could be considered questionable by prospective employers, program funders or other professional contacts. But what does that mean, exactly? Let me give you some examples of the types of photos (and videos) to avoid:

  1. You, in a swimsuit. Seriously, unless you are a swimsuit model and you’re looking for modelling gigs, leave the beach photos off social media.
  2. You, in your underwear (especially if it’s in a public setting and that’s all you happen to be wearing).
  3. Boudoir shots (Unless you’re a boudoir photographer or a nude model, don’t post these.)
  4. Drunk / tipsy photos.
  5. Photos of you – or anyone – lighting up a reefer or doing any kind of drugs. (See #12).
  6. You leaning over a toilet bowl (or anywhere else) vomiting.
  7. Actually… any photos of bodily functions are best left off social media.
  8. You engaging in frisky behaviour with your boss’s, colleague’s or friend’s significant other.
  9. Smoochy stuff of any kind — unless it’s your own wedding photo, and even then, I’d err on the side of caution.
  10. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” photos – That means, photos of you having a good time, when you should have been at work or school. (Bosses and teachers use Facebook too, you know.)
  11. You with a .49 shotgun, a machine gun, a handgun or any kind of weapon, for that matter. (Again, unless you are a firearms instructor.)
  12. You, engaged in any kind of criminal or illicit activities. (I’m sure the Vancouver riot seemed innocent enough at the time…)
  13. You, acting out your anger or frustrations by walloping your kid with a big ol’ wooden spoon or kicking the dog.
  14. You, taking out your frustrations or loneliness by cutting your wrists, hanging yourself by a noose, or even staging or pretending a suicide attempt. That’s just disturbing. Call the local help line. Don’t post a photo.
  15. You, being arrested, being hauled off in a police car or in jail.
  16. Similarly, you, in a straight jacket, handcuffed or otherwise restrained. Even if it’s part of a Halloween costume, just think what a prospective employer might think when they Google you and see that photo out of context. You won’t get the job.
  17. Photos of your house, that clearly show your address. (Seriously, do you really want to make it that easy for the whole world — and I mean, the whole world — to know where you live?)
  18. Photo renditions (scanned copies) of your driver’s license, passport or other ID. Even if you just got your first ever driver’s license, do not scan it and post it on Facebook. Ever.
  19. Photo renditions (scanned copies) of prescriptions. (Despite what you may believe, your Facebook friends don’t need to know what meds you’re on.)
  20. Photos of other people’s children – taken or posted without their permission. A friend of mine recently found a photo of her daughter posted on a government website. In an attempt to save money, the web designer found photos of cute kids on Google and used them as generic art on the website. (It’s not legal, but it happens). She got the photo removed, but prior to that incident, she had no idea the photo was even on line.
  21. Photos of your friends or loved ones that may compromise their future. (While you may be openly gay, everyone at the recent LGBT party may not be out of the closet.) You can inadvertently jeopardize others’ safety and job prospects by posting inappropriate photos of them.

Think about the repercussions of every single photo you post. The general rule is to keep it clean and professional. If you wouldn’t show it to your boss, your grandma, your favorite teacher AND the local preacher, don’t post it on line. What seems funny today could cost you a job, a contract or a college admission tomorrow.


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Are you looking for a speaker for your next event? Book me (Sarah Eaton) for your next event (either live or via webinar)! Contact us for details. Follow Dr. Sarah on Twitter.

Fall Webinar Courses – A Peek Behind the Scenes

Over the past few weeks I’ve been busy putting together a live training program on How To Build Your Own Webinars. The live seminar will be offered in Calgary in the fall. Depending on how successful it is, I may offer it in other cities, too. It’s a 12-hour course, offered over four Monday nights. The objective is to have participants develop a webinar that they can then deliver to an audience. I’m super pumped about this and I can’t wait to teach this course!

I’ve had a few people out of town ask me if I do the training program online. So, I’ve started building it. That means planning a curriculum for each online course and integrating those courses into an overall program. I’ve spent my entire career in education and program planning. One of my strengths is that I can clearly envision an entire program and then build it. I also know that to do that well takes time, thought and organization. I take a systematic approach when I build a program. Each piece has to integrate with the other pieces perfectly. The various courses must make sense individually and together, as an integrated program.

Each course must have clear objectives and outcomes. I’ve learned how to strike that elusive balance between making my courses content rich, engaging and not promising too much. I need to know exactly how much material I can cover in a given time — and also include some time for fun and interaction.

Some of the courses I’ve come up with so far for this new online program are:

Check out the course descriptions and let me know what you think!

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Are you looking for a speaker for your next event? Book me (Sarah Eaton) for your next event (either live or via webinar)! Contact us for details. Follow Dr. Sarah on Twitter.