People in academia live life more than a little differently from those of us in the business world. Even the rules of personal branding and networking are different. You don’t get tenure based on valuable relationships and what you have done for others. It’s based on publishing, teaching, and committee work.

But that doesn’t mean personal branding has no place in academia. There are still some benefits you can get by following some basic tenets of personal branding with social media. Here are three personal branding secrets you can use in higher education.

1. Write a blog about your field

Blogging is an excellent way to share your ideas and work with others, without waiting for a quarterly journal to publish an article you submitted six months earlier. Discuss new ideas and research, and even offer analysis and commentary about those ideas and research. Share your less journal-worthy research, or turn the articles that didn’t get accepted into a white paper or special report.

While you need to publish one article in a peer-reviewed journal per year, does that mean you’re going to be silent the rest of the year? Of course not. Publish initial findings, share literature reviews (which then end up in your article), and curate news about your field. Become the source for news about your field of study so that other academics in your field will come to recognize you as a leading authority. This reputation as being a font of information and knowledge can earn you speaking slots at conferences and consulting gigs in the private sector.

2. Connect with colleagues and students on Twitter

Twitter is a real-time communication tool that lets you share ideas with others — blog posts you’ve written, articles you’re reading — as well as pose questions, find resources, and even have conversations with colleagues on the other side of the world.

If you’ve got a blog and you’re using it as a hub for all of your research and information sharing, then you need a way to tell people you’ve published new articles. Twitter lets you share anything and everything with people you’re connected to.

If you’re curating information, and you want a way to find out what different journals, associations, and even other professionals, you need a way to see all that information at once. Twitter lets you create lists of users, which you can organize in any fashion.

Create lists to come up with a unique and extremely useful combination of sources of news and information. Share this information on a daily basis, and you’ll soon become one of the most trusted sources on this topic. Maybe even more than the journals you’re trying to get into.

3. Share class lectures via YouTube

Do a quick Google search for “MOOC” (Massive Online Open Courses) and Apple’s iTunes University, and you’ll see what’s already happening — previously unreachable knowledge being given away online for free.

Without debating the merits of MOOC’s and the free availability of education, it’s at least important to note that a lot of Ivy League universities are doing it. Think of what this could do for recruiting and admissions — people who learned from their local university now have the chance to go and actually learn from the professors they saw on their iPads. Think of what that could mean for your department, and even you and your own career.

You can help bolster your reputation as a rockstar educator by sharing your lectures on YouTube or Vimeo (or both), including any PowerPoint slides and other graphics, and then turning around and embedding the videos in your blog post. The end result is you can share your knowledge with people, let people see you teach, and share in your knowledge and wisdom, which will make them want to take your classes, or even consult with them or speak at their conferences.

I’ve only covered the basics of three elements of personal branding — entire books have been written about each of these topics. To get started, sign up for accounts on Twitter, YouTube, and These are all tools you learn by doing, so jump in, start sharing information and ideas, and see what this can do for you and your career.


Erik Deckers is the owner of Professional Blog Service, a newspaper humor columnist, and the co-author of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, and The Owned Media Doctrine.