You want to engage on social media, but you are not sure how to connect with people who share your interest. This can be a major challenge for someone without natural influence gained from being in public such as a celebrity, politician, or even a professor. In the past when you needed to get out information or create awareness on issues, you had to go through larger businesses, organizations, associations, or public relations firms for assistance in hopes they will share with their network. Today, technology and social media make it possible for you to bypass the gatekeepers and connect directly with the people. However, it's much easier to connect with higher-profile individuals when you have an established network of your own. One of the best ways to start building your social media networks is by joining an active online group of individuals who share your interests. Another option is to engage in social media challenges or events to help increase your online followers. Joining an active online group can be a valuable strategy to connect with like-minded individuals who share your interests. These groups provide a platform for discussions, sharing ideas, and networking with professionals in your field. By actively participating in these communities, you can establish yourself as an engaged member and gain visibility among peers and potential collaborators. Engaging in social media challenges is another effective way to boost your online following and enhance your social media skills. Challenges like the Global Social Media Challenge provide a structured approach to learning and implementing social media strategies specifically tailored for social workers. By participating in these challenges, you not only gain valuable insights and tips but also become part of a supportive community that encourages growth and development. In my interview with Anneke Kraker, co-founder of the Global Social Media Challenge, she emphasized the benefits of participating in such challenges. Through the challenge, social workers can learn about the impact of social media on the profession while growing their networks and increasing their influence. The collective nature of the challenge fosters a sense of camaraderie and makes the learning process enjoyable and accessible. Addressing the barriers that may prevent social workers from engaging on social media, time management emerges as a common concern. Social media can indeed be time-consuming, but Anneke and Hans provide practical solutions, such as scheduling updates, to help overcome this challenge. Additionally, privacy concerns and the perceived narcissistic element of showcasing oneself on social media can be hurdles. However, participating in the Global Social Media Challenge encourages social workers to step out of their comfort zones and embrace these aspects of social media in a supportive and empowering environment. It's worth highlighting that the Global Social Media Challenge is ongoing, and interested individuals can still join and catch up on missed challenges. Anneke provides a subscription link where social workers can sign up and access the challenge materials. By taking advantage of opportunities like online groups and social media challenges, social workers can overcome their hesitations and leverage the power of social media to enhance their professional brand. Engaging with these platforms enables them to connect with a broader audience, share their expertise, and make a positive impact in their field. In the next section of the blog post, we will explore additional tips and strategies that social workers can implement to leverage social media effectively and build their professional brand. Stay tuned for more insights from Anneke and Hans as they share their expertise on maximizing social media impact for social workers. SWH: Tell us about the Global Social Media Challenge and how it came about. The First Global Social Media Challenge is a fun challenge for social workers to learn more about the impact of social media on the profession. Social Workers who participate receive for 11 days a small challenge in their inbox plus lots of social media tips. Our goal is to grow our networks and increase our impact. In June 2015 I organized the first Challenge in Dutch. It was a huge success with 600 Dutch Social Workers participating. I do this together with Hans Versteegh a social media expert for Social Workers. I almost forgot: the challenge is free! SWH: How will this challenge benefit social workers and help them to become more social media savvy? This challenge helps because we’re in this together. Many Social Workers are looking for ways to benefit from social media. In this challenge, we share tips, insights, and good practices. Doing this together makes it fun and easy. SWH: What do you believe are some of the biggest barriers preventing social workers from engaging on social media? It’s time-consuming. It challenges you to find new boundaries. Privacy is also an issue. And some Social Workers struggle with the narcissistic element: you use social media to make connections and in order to do that you have to show yourself. The challenge of day 2 is about selfies! SWH: What tips can you provide to help them overcome those barriers and to enhance their professional brand? Hans and I love making fun but we are also very serious about Social Media. We literally challenge Social Workers to overcome those barriers. With tips, we make it easy. For example: to overcome the time issue we provide a simple solution for scheduling your updates. SWH: How is the challenge going so far, and how can people get started even if they missed the first day? The challenge is going perfectly! We have almost 400 participants and people can still join us. They can catch up on the challenges they missed because we provide an overview of all past challenges. People can subscribe here: https://annekekrakers.leadpages.co/globalsomec/ https://twitter.com/Welzijn30/status/698193485682380800 https://twitter.com/CFL_Adoptions/status/698134959144488960 https://twitter.com/LouiseBSW/status/698084097168691200 https://twitter.com/annekekrakers/status/696601952168374273 https://twitter.com/INorupt/status/698021042241949698 Harnessing the power of social media can be a game-changer for social workers looking to expand their networks and enhance their professional brand. While it may seem challenging at first, joining online groups and participating in social media challenges provide invaluable opportunities for growth and connection. Through the Global Social Media Challenge, social workers have access to a supportive community and a wealth of resources to navigate the world of social media. This challenge not only equips participants with practical tips and strategies but also instills a sense of camaraderie and shared learning. Overcoming barriers such as time constraints, privacy concerns, and the fear of self-promotion is essential for social workers to fully leverage the potential of social media. By embracing these challenges head-on, social workers can enhance their online presence, establish themselves as experts in their field, and create meaningful connections with colleagues and potential clients. By implementing the lessons and insights shared by experts like Anneke Kraker and Hans Versteegh, social workers can confidently navigate the social media landscape and maximize their impact. The Global Social Media Challenge serves as a catalyst for social workers to transform their online presence, amplify their voices, and make a lasting difference in their profession. So, if you're a social worker looking to connect with others who share your passion, expand your influence, and maintain your social spirit, take that first step. Join online groups, participate in social media challenges, and embrace the power of social media as a tool to empower your professional journey. Remember, you have the ability to shape your online presence and make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. Embrace the opportunities that social media presents, and let your voice be heard in the digital realm. Together, we can create a vibrant and connected community of social workers dedicated to making a difference in the world.