One of the questions that we often hear is about how to identify your expertise, and work out where you can really add value for your audience—and then how to use that expertise to engage with people. Perhaps we all tend to take our own experience and expertise for granted, or assume that others share it. It can, therefore, be hard to recognise where you really stand out.
It is also difficult to know how to engage with your audience, especially if you are new to social media. You wish to look, expert, even if you are still very much a ‘newbie’ on your chosen platform.
Fortunately, you can use social media itself to help you identify domain best practice: something of a case of setting a thief to catch a thief.
Look at your own work and identify your area of expertise
Your first step in the process is to find your area of expertise. The most important aspect to remember is that it is hard, if not impossible, to be an expert if you are not working on the subject pretty much every day.
You also need to narrow down your expertise beyond the ‘broad brush’ job description. For example, suppose that you are a software engineer. However, software engineering is a pretty big topic, and it is unlikely that you are an expert in every aspect. It is therefore worth thinking about how to focus a bit more. Questions you might ask could include:
- What programming languages do you use and work on every day?
- What type of company do you work for? For example, is it a major and well-established company or a start-up, and what is its broad area of expertise?
- What type of software do you work on? For example, you might work particularly on gaming software.
- What part of the software lifecycle are you most involved in? For example, do you mostly design or test?
When you pull all these together, you might define yourself as a Python-using testing software engineer working in mature gaming companies.
Identify and then follow experts on a topic on your chosen channels
The best way to find out about how a channel works is to use it. If you have not already done so, get yourself an account on LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other social network or channel you choose, and start listening. The first step is to identify experts on a topic, find them on your chosen platforms using search functions, and then start following them.
Remember that the experts that you follow don’t necessarily have to be in your field. You can get a good feel for the social media platform by following experts or thought leaders in any field. However, to help you identify where you can add value, you should include at least some, and preferably all of those recognised as leaders in your field.
Monitor your experts’ updates
Your next step is to monitor your experts’ updates—but with purpose. Look at how often they engage with their audience, including both proactive and reactive posts (that is, new posts and comments or reactions to comments). It is also helpful to look at who else they engage with—and possibly start to follow those people too. Finally, look at what your chosen experts say and do when they engage on social media, and how other people engage with them.
This is absolutely the best way to understand what is normal on that platform, and what constitutes best practice. It also gives you a feel for the topics being discussed in your broad field of expertise.
Identify a gap in the social media ‘market’
Your final step is to consider how your expertise ‘fits’ with that of others already using the platform, and find a suitable gap. Are there other Python-using testing software engineers working in mature gaming companies? If not, your perspective is unique, and there are likely to be people interested in your views. If there are others, how can you distinguish yourself? For example, are your views similar or different to the majority? Can you build on their posts and audience, and add value to your peers? Or do you wish to challenge the orthodoxy in some way?
These are personal decisions. Only you can really decide. It will, however, determine your positioning, so it is very important.