Thursday, September 12, 2019

Teachers' Guide to Social Media

I've spent a bit of time this year cultivating my social media and I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some of the things I have learnt. I should stress that everything here is based on my personal experience and I'm not some kind of social media expert. But then again, who is?

For my site,, I experimented with the following:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
I was also involved to some extent with a social media campaign for the e-learning company I used to work for, so some of my experience derives from there, too.

Let me start with my most important advice: use a separate account from your personal account. And, in fact, use a separate account for each of your interests, so if you are into baking, politics and teaching, set up a Twitter account for each one. I see a lot of teachers posting about politics and it really puts people off. Similarly, people who follow you for your baking recipes aren’t interested in IELTS tips.

My personal goals for social media were threefold: 1) to gain and interact with followers, just for the fun of it 2) to share discussions with other teachers 3) to promote my website. After some experimentation, I decided on the following format, which I could use for vocabulary and grammar tips:

First, I’ll talk about Twitter. My @roadtogrammar account currently has around 1600 followers, a mix of English learners and teachers. What I found with Twitter is that engagement is quite low. With over a thousand followers, posts only get a handful of likes, if that. I also had issues with images - unless you use a particular size, the complete image doesn’t show unless the user clicks to enlarge it. Hence, while I could use the same image size for Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram, I had to use a different one for Twitter.

However, I did find that Twitter is the best platform for interacting with other teachers. I enjoy scrolling through other teachers’ posts, commenting and interacting. In the end, I stopped posting vocab and grammar tips and decided to use Twitter solely for interactions with other teachers. I also changed the username from RoadtoGrammar to TheGoodTeacher to reflect this change.

Next up is Facebook. I quickly found that the engagement level on Facebook was superior to Twitter and users seemed keen to interact. Facebook allows you to have a personal page, a ‘business’ page or a group. I tried starting up a Road to Grammar page and a Road to Grammar group. The page got traction and there was little interest in the group, so I focused on the page. Who knows, other people may have had the opposite experience.

Facebook is an excellent platform if you wish to promote a product, and it is the only platform where I experimented with paying for promotions. Rather than pay to boost individual posts, I advertised the Road to Grammar page to gain followers. I felt it was a waste to promote individual posts when I could gain followers instead, who would then see future posts.

You can select the geographical region and interests of people who would see your ads. I choose people who were interested in IELTS and business English. Without the ads, I estimate I would have one to two thousand followers. After using the ads, I have just over 10,000. This cost less than $100 in total. With this number of followers, posts usually reach 1000-2000 people and get 50-100 likes.

Pinterest is exclusively designed for images, but that suits perfectly the kind of posts I designed above. When I started, I wasn’t sure that anyone would be interested in using it to improve their English, but I was wrong. I was able to get over 10,000 followers, like with Facebook, but without any advertising. And this number is going up. Sometimes, I get fifty new followers every day. Some posts have gotten over 100,000 views. I really feel, unlike with other platforms, that Pinterest rewards you for quality content.

Their platform is easy to use and it is supereasy to categorise your posts. It has excellent statistics, too. Lastly, I noticed that some teachers use it as a platform to share worksheets and visual teaching aids.

I was quite late to the party with Instagram, but since using it, I’ve really come to appreciate it a lot. I especially like the way multiple images are presented, so you can put together a vocabulary set or mini-lesson that the user can swipe through on their phone. Instagram does this much better than Facebook or Pinterest in my opinion. Hence, I often post single images on Facebook or Pinterest, but upload a set of images on Instagram.

After using IG for a few months, I have around 2000 followers and growing fast. I seem to get anywhere between 5-30 new followers each day. Instagram has the best engagement rates by far and I see more likes and views than Facebook for the same content, even with 5x fewer followers. I only wish I’d discovered Instagram earlier.

One weakness of Instagram, though, is that you have to post from your phone. This doesn’t really suit me, since I prepare the posts on my trusty desktop or laptop, but it’s a pretty minor issue since my phone is always handy.

The final platform that I experimented with was YouTube. However, I quickly decided YouTube wasn’t for me, because I’m quite a private person and I just don’t want videos of myself all over the internet. I tried uploading some short videos with graphics and a voiceover, but I couldn’t attract many views. I think to succeed on YouTube, you need to put yourself in the videos and you need to have great presentation skills. This could be suitable for many teachers, but just not for me.

So, for me, the best platforms for engaging with students are Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. I find Twitter useful for engaging with other teachers.

I can also see that I get many followers from certain countries (which is useful if you wish to do targeted ads). By far the country that provides the most followers is India. I think the next country is the Philippines. I also got a lot of followers from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. I was expecting a lot from China and Japan, but I think they use their own different social media platforms in those countries.


Since this is an article about social media, please give me a follow:

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