This is my 3rd post for the UofC Continuing Ed course – BMC 312 Social Media Essentials. This assignment requires us to “share an example of a company or brand that you think is using social media effectively.” I have chosen to focus on George Couros as an innovative educator of influence. George, if you read this (and he might), let me know if I’m missing something or need to correct anything! Cheers!
This assignment had me scouring various brands, websites, and tweets – all in an effort to complete this task – I looked at products and social influencers. I loved Chantel’s post about Jillian Harris – Chantel has a great sense of style and really did an inspiring job aligning her own look with the influence of Jillian’s. Since I love home design – I looked at Joanna Gaines and her Magnolia site. Since I love gardening – I looked at how Saskatoon Farm has really amped up their Facebook & Instagram presence this summer – luring me to the south of the city for fresh vegetables and berry picking. Since I love travel – another road I travelled was to find influencers around travel (something I’ve always wanted to do was be a travel writer), but I found heaps of hip, hot, younger wanderlusters – not something I could wholly connect to. So finding middle age wanderlusters like the late foodie-culture-lover Anthony Bourdain is more my interest and something I’ll explore more in my future having added many to my social media feed this week.
But for this assignment I finally landed – thanks to a tweet on twitter (seen in the visual on the right) – on a leader in education with a large scope of influence on both teachers and administrators, an Albertan who came to our school about 4 or 5 years ago to introduce the staff with how useful social media can be in the sphere of education – George Couros. George had everyone pull out their phones to sign up on twitter, had our school work at thinking of itself as a brand via twitter handles and hashtags. Although I had been using twitter for a few years at that point and wasn’t new to its ability to impact my professional learning, I never considered the concept of it as “an influencer” or “as a brand”. With twitter he is active daily by writing posts, advertising his books and consultant work, but mostly he retweets the tweets of others, bringing to them exposure too. This man is networked! And I would argue that although the focus of his social media and books are for an audience of educators, I see many things he posts and writes that really help businesses with branding and using technology as a means to an end – see this article “Humanizing our Organizations Through Social Media”.
George’s blog is titled The Principal of Change – Stories of Learning and Leading, which is exactly what he does as a disrupter, an innovator, a leader who holds out his charismatic hand to administrators and teachers guiding them into the 21st Century, with social media as his magical wand. Notice his blog page, below, and on the left of his page there are several social media links to share his work. He posts with regularity, occasionally reposting an older post to bring it attention and to keep his blog updated regularly (a great strategy when you have as much material as he does), and when his blog updates it is tweeted out to his followers.
In his About Me he outlines his digital footprint: with various platforms in about.me, connected principals – a site he created for administrators world wide, edutopia, twitter – where he has regular presence, diigo – a social media bookmarking tool that doesn’t appear to have been used in years, facebook – that he uses personally but also has his brand page, Youtube – where he mainly has music he’s interested in with other videos that are related to education, Scribd – where he’s uploaded documents like his CV. He does need to do some updates on the site as he is also active now on Instagram, Amazon, and LinkedIn too. Clearly, this is a connected leader.
When you go to his blog, this “Call to Action” (visual to the right) quickly pops up and you are offered to subscribe to his blog – this keeps his followers informed and increases his social media presence, but is also a further incentive to buy his book – clever!
Further to this presence that is impacting and influencing both administrators and teachers, he has created a brand for himself with books he’s published – with direct links for purchase from his website to Amazon:
Not to mention – he has a t-shirt for sale via his blog too, with one of his quotations:
George knows his brand and certainly knows how to sell it. He’s managed to develop his career as an “Innovative Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Consultant” and an author, with such great success as he now does this full-time, giving up the security of his work in education as a previous Division Principal with Parkland School Division in Stoney Plain. Education administration, with the security of its benefits and retirement, is not an easy thing to give up unless you are confidently successful in the branding of your name, your work, and your ability to continuously find financial independence in this world of being an influencer. George offers many consultant opportunities with Keynote speeches and workshops, as are noted on his website; (I think he should also list his appearances so that followers and fans might find where he’s speaking and influencing next – like another educator guru I love named Penny Kittle does on her website).
All in all, George inspires teachers like me to do the best we can for our students – both in the classroom walls and beyond them using technology and social media. He maintains his touch with the trenches as his lovely wife Paige (a former teacher at our school) is an elementary teacher who holds him accountable and real. He helps us to connect with our community of colleagues, students, and parents as we reach out via social media – humanizing and de-mystifying the teaching and learning in our four walls. Thanks George!
“What many organizations are learning is that actually humanizing their business through social media is something that is helping to build a deeper loyalty to not only the company, but to the vision of the organization.” George Couros “Humanizing Our Organizations Through Social Media”