Like millions of people exploring career opportunities, I have spent an inordinate amount of time on LinkedIn in recent years. I have a modest yet carefully curated network in place. I have fine-tuned my profile diligently to stand out from the pack (although according to the bots, I am only in the top 35 percent of my network). I have sifted through job prospects, clicked on applications, liked comments, and even dabbled with my own posts. Yet, after a year of this LinkedIn madness I have come to a dire conclusion that may lay at the heart of the current teacher shortage crisis: Being a K-12 educator, especially a teacher, gets little to no respect in the new LinkedIn culture.
“Just” A Teacher
In a recent conversation with a close friend, himself a former teacher pivoting to a career in higher education, we both lamented this teacher status quandary. We agreed that in order to be taken seriously, especially from private industry, we had to embellish our K-12 years. Not embellish as in lie, but as in make fancy. Mentions of “learners” or “lesson plans,” for example, were not in line with the job market. Inserting words like “managed,” “developed,” “coordinated” or even “mentored” were much better.
As for job titles, identifying as just “a teacher” was a non-starter—even for positions in school-related nonprofit work, educational leadership, or instruction at the higher education levels. Like it or not, we had to adapt to a new LinkedIn culture obsessed with trendy titles, reform-focused hyperbole, and “transformative” practice—not in schools but preferably in the private sector. “Strategic,” “Consulting,” “Directing,” “Diversity,” and “Engaging” are in; “Counseling,“ “Classroom,” “Students,” and just plain “Teaching” are out.
The irony of this predicament is that virtually every job description we compared called precisely for the skills gained from combined decades working in the classroom. These are the same skills millions of teachers exhibit every single day across the country ― skills that would no doubt transfer to other sectors. “The ability to relate to multiple stakeholders” or “develop dynamic plans for reaching diverse audiences” could hardly be more implicit in a teacher’s job description.
And yet, we both shared uneasiness in placing any word associated with K-12 teaching in our profile. It turns out we were not alone. A passing survey of close teacher friends revealed the same concerns: almost all educators with whom we spoke felt as if their skills in the classroom carried little or no weight in the private sector, even in cases where the job called for their specific areas of expertise.
Even worse, many experienced teachers felt it would be a hindrance to mention their K-12 chops for a role with education-related organizations, many in the burgeoning nonprofit support sector (over 185,000 organizations were doing business in the PK-12 sector in 2014). Although not empirically confirmed, the general sentiment was that these organizations overwhelmingly preferred MBAs over M.Eds. This might explain why so many teachers in my network have incomplete or wholly abandoned LinkedIn profiles.
A Microcosm Of The Teacher Crisis
Of course, one could argue that all of this has more to do with our own personal insecurities than anything else. Maybe we’re just bitter because we didn’t get an interview for a coveted vacancy. Maybe we’re just too old, or perhaps we (educators) just need to adapt to a free market economy—where our non-K-12 competitors are as able as any teacher, even if they did not spend time working in schools. All of these are true to some degree.
I for one am a big believer in hiring talent for talent’s sake, not just because he or she is “an educator.” Nonetheless, I can’t help agonize over one pressing question: What does the LinkedIn culture say about the status of teachers? More important, if we continue down this path, what will the future of teaching look like? What 15-year-old—heck, what 35-year-old—will want to be just a teacher?
To all of my teacher friends, I caution against blaming the lack of status in the profession on the privatization of education, charter versus public schools, or even socialism versus capitalism. It was, after all, Lee Iacocca who stated that “in a rational society the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else.”
If anything, the LinkedIn phenomenon has simply highlighted that we as a culture (all of us!) elevate the something else irrationally, artificially. Through discourse and clever semantics we have managed to introduce an ever more creative array of labels that, while impressive, overshadow the humble yet deeply impactful work of service-first professionals with lesser titles. Nowhere is this more evident than with teachers.
We mustn’t be fooled into thinking this is merely a semantic concern. Words absolutely matter. The teachers of the next generation are tuned in to the status and title narrative as they chart their future. To a youth where perception matters above all, the words we choose to convey status are critical. Perhaps this explains why teacher recruitment, especially among youth of color, is in a state of freefall. Since 2000, enrollment in college teacher prep programs has declined by 10 percent nationally, with some states experiencing even sharper drops. California, one of the largest producers of education majors, lost over 20,000 candidates in 2014. New York and Texas also experienced significant declines.
Add more deeply rooted socio-economic problems, such as lack of access to affordable higher education and a persistent achievement gap among minorities, and the teacher corps is facing an even greater identity crisis, literally. According to recent data, while the student population continues to diversify, over 80 percent of public school teachers are white. This disparity is even more alarming in areas with higher concentrations of minorities. And if one thinks that doesn’t—or shouldn’t—matter, think again. Studies have shown that black students score better on assessments with black teachers, and other reports have demonstrated that minority students taught by non-minority teachers are routinely marked lower than non-white students. In short, we need to attract great—diverse—teachers more than ever!
To be clear, Networks like LinkedIn did not create the crisis; they merely expose and accentuate the sad truth that teaching is not as respected as other professions. Likewise, the evolution of titan-esque job titles is not unique to education but rather a product of cross-sector code switching that has been occurring for decades. Business has a long history of incorporating jargon from the sports world. Similarly, it is now commonplace to see professionals across the spectrum anointed with the salutation of “chief” or “senior” in their early twenties.
The difference, some argue, is that the K-12 sector was and is ripe for abuse. Unlike other industries, education is uniquely vulnerable to the isomorphic pressures from outside forces that seek to reshape the field in their image. As my own research uncovered, K-12 schools have operated in relative isolation for decades, most definitely in regards to talent acquisition.
It is no surprise, then, that with the infusion of new capital into K-12, the sector finds itself ill equipped to emphasize, preserve, or even evolve its own professional culture. Rather than maintain perfectly acceptable titles like “principal” or “superintendent,” for instance, schools and districts are under pressure to adapt to private sector norms. A once proud profession with its own values has slowly capitulated to a dominant culture that is rooted, as one scholar noted, in business schools.
There is also the view that infusing new titles like CEO over Superintendent or Student Engagement Coordinator over School Counselor may attract young minds to the field. While there may be some truth to this (albeit to my knowledge unverified), fashionable educator titles do little to advance the profession as a science and art. Instead of helping move the field forward—to attract new teachers, for example—it may actually be eradicating the elements that give the profession its identity.
By most metrics it is fair to say that the education space is experiencing an awakening of professional opportunities. Indeed, this was the reason I found myself on LinkedIn to begin with. Like many of my peers, I am inspired by a new generation of business ideas that are rethinking how we design schools, how we partner, how we connect to the community, and how we learn. But the question remains, who will lead in this revolution? This is a conversation we must have. It is about more than words and titles. It is about the future. A future where youth are inspired to become educators, and where being a teacher is more than enough— even on LinkedIn.
Video is dominating social media, or should I say, social media is dominating video.
If YouTube was the first player to rule the land, now we experience a Tinder-world of video networks, all fighting for our attention.
Twitter with ‘Periscope’, then Facebook with ‘Watch’, and now LinkedIn with its recent update. Whichever direction we swipe, another feature pops up on our screen, claiming to be the “next big thing”.
Looking at all of these video platforms through the lens of online dating, it appears that: Facebook wants something serious, Twitter is trying too hard to impress, and LinkedIn is a casual hookup.
So unless you’re a serial-dater, which network will you choose to effectively promote your videos – and how exactly would you go about it?
To help you make the right decision, let’s break down the latest video features rolled out by Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn:
Shortly after being purchased by multinational tech company Microsoft, for $26.2 billion, LinkedIn has grown into a brilliant B2B network, supporting over 467 million professionals.
“This deal brings together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network,” Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
Unlike Facebook, which people obsessively check for daily updates, LinkedIn has been slow to hook its members.
Slow yet promising, LinkedIn is trying to make a comeback by launching a new feature that allows every person to upload video via iOS or Android mobile app. In addition, users will be able to access analytics on locations of viewers, a number of comments, likes, and views.
If this sounds like an attempt to lure the millennial crowd, you’re probably correct. But as research from The Financial Times and Alpha Grid shows, video content is a vital strategy for engaging C-suite decision-makers and senior influencers – not JUST your junior-level, millennial employee.
Interestingly enough, the study also shows that LinkedIn (when compared to Facebook and Twitter) is considered the most trustworthy social network for producing and hosting “good online video”.
With this in mind, LinkedIn’s stride in adding video support is certainly going to help B2B marketers immerse into the video realm and boost their content’s engagement.
Tips for B2B Marketers
The number one tip for B2B marketers who want to crack the code for LinkedIn video is to get creative. While that’s easier said than done, a B2B video should not be boring with a talking head.
Start with an announcement such as contest, content offering (a webinar, research, or white paper), or even a new product launch.
Showcase many different faces and personalities from your company, your top partners, and biggest customers. And don’t forget to deliver the video with a lot of charisma and energy. Marketo has done just that – highlights special guests and delivering the video itself with great enthusiasm.
One of the most interesting findings to emerge from the Financial Times study is that C-level audiences value humor and creativity when it comes to video.
In such case, you want to do two things: firstly, keep your video alive with sights and sounds of an event or conference you’re hosting; secondly, introduce a topic or subject by telling a joke or poking some fun at something. This way your chances of driving value for your LinkedIn audience will be seemingly greater.
Fun fact: If Facebook was a religion, it would be the second biggest in the world (after Christianity)!
To fuel its own growth, Facebook has launched a remarkable platform called ‘Facebook Watch’ – or in the words of Mark Zuckerberg, a ‘YouTube style content video channel’.
I like to think of it as a Netflix for social media only with the added value of live comments and reactions.
“Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive. It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things,” Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
According to Facebook’s press release, Watch is the new home for shows on Facebook. Each show will be divided into a list of episodes — either live or recorded — which follow a theme or storyline. These episodes will be personalized according to what your friends and communities are watching. For example, you’ll find categories like:
- “Most Talked About” – shows that are trending on Facebook
- “What’s Making People Laugh” – shows that many people reacted to with ‘Haha’
- “What Friends Are Watching” – shows that your friends are watching
There’s even a ‘Watchlist’ to help you keep track of the shows you like. Alternatively, you can come across new episodes while scrolling through your News Feed or via the notification bar. Either way, Facebook is going to try everything it can to capture as many eyes for its new content feature.
Following a similar path to YouTube, Facebook is enabling content creators to earn money by inserting Ad Breaks. In fact, TechCrunch reports that publishers can also earn money through product placement or branded content, in which case they tag the sponsor who’s paying them.
For B2B marketers and content creators, Watch offers an amazing opportunity to reach and reconnect with younger audiences. Its mobile-friendliness, instantaneous nature, and element of personalization makes it a true millennial bait.
What’s also exciting is that users will naturally land on content tailored to their interests and expectations without marketers having to artificially push this content in their direction. This is particularly important considering that ‘relevance’ plays a key role in swaying people to watch a video.
Tips for B2B Marketers
The Watch platform is designed for you to be authentic and informal while following a specific direction.
The last thing you want to do is “go live” without having any structured narrative or script planned out in advance.
In other words, approach it as if it was a real TV show, only with less production and overhead costs.
Map out the topic or “theme” that you would like to cover in the show, and then break down episode by episode; each one addressing a specific sub-topic.
For example, if your theme is “Content Marketing”, episode 1 could focus on ‘What is Content Marketing”, episode 2 could discuss “Why Content Marketing”, and so on. For reaching a wider audience, consider inviting subject matter experts and professionals who can offer an interesting insight.
Take a look at this video cast called “Digital Minute” by digital marketing agency, StickyEyes. Each segment deals with one of their core themes: SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media, and PR.
Unlike your standard video-recorded podcast, which has zero interactivity, creating a Facebook Watch show allows you to engage directly with a live audience. You can answer their questions and understand their emotional reactions such as ‘Haha’ and ‘Wow’. This is really next-gen video marketing!
After being purchased by Twitter for $86 million, Periscope, a live-video streaming platform, sparked a lot of hype, especially among B2C marketers.
Before Periscope, the idea of broadcasting live to whoever wants to tune is, was completely unheard of. For the first time, people could say “this is cool, I want to share this moment in real-time”.
One of the newest additions to Periscope has been the introduction of Super Hearts – a set of virtual coins shaped as a heart that users can send to their favorite broadcasters to show support. According to The Verge, “The hearts closely resemble ‘cheering,’ a paid form of commenting on Amazon’s rival broadcast platform, Twitch.
If successful, Periscope’s Super hearts could attract more broadcasters to the platform — while giving Twitter a highly profitable new revenue stream in the process.”
Broadcasters who receive hearts will have it appear as ‘stars’ on their profile. Each heart or star can be purchased by Periscope’s virtual currency, ranging $1 to $100. The Verge explains that, “If a user sends you 10 Super Hearts that they bought for 330 coins, you get 330 stars. Once you get 185,000 stars — valued at around $175— you can cash them out, a maximum of once a month.”
Tips for B2B Marketers
Despite its popularity among B2C brands, Periscope can very effectively be incorporated by B2B marketers live-stream events, conferences, or tradeshows. This is a great opportunity to give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your employees, booth, attendees.
Since B2B companies have a reputation for being dull or boring, you need to add some flavor to your live video. Instead of saying, ‘Come to booth 18!’, make it interesting by showcasing cool activities, interviewing an expert, or asking for a customer testimonial.
If you’re hosting a special panel or keynote speaker, Periscope is a dynamic way to record the event itself and allow users to actively comment. This is far more engaging that posting a few Tweets with an image. Encourage attendees, partners, or anyone who’s interested to broadcast their own Periscope at your booth and post it with your custom hashtag.
Periscope certainly fits into the B2B toolkit, but what you have to keep in mind is that not all of your audience members will be on there. Make sure you announce on all of your social channels that you’re active on Periscope and give a link to your account. At the end of each live-broadcast, download the Periscope and repurpose it into a blog post.
Where Will You Share Your Next Video?
Social media has embraced the nature of Tinder – a marketplace for endless swiping and possibilities.
From Facebook Watch to Twitter’s Periscope, and LinkedIn, the individual marketer is exposed to a plethora of video tools, networks, and platforms – all of which have their own unique characteristics.
Whatever you do — whichever platform you choose to host your videos on — remember to make the first few seconds meaningful! Nothing can be more frustrating for a viewer to hit play and find out that the video offers no value. Even if you’re planning to produce a long video, grow the momentum from the get-go, and choose a sexy topic that intrigues your audience.
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