Trending December 2023 # Connecting Your Brand With A Story # Suggested January 2024 # Top 15 Popular

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Using video for brand storytelling

There is no shortage of people out there telling us that marketing today is all about storytelling, and that if you want people to connect with your brand, you need to tell stories that they can relate to. Of course, this is easier said than done, so in this post I wanted to introduce you to some ways of determining what story you should tell.

Making a video about your product

The following example is a modern take on a product demonstration style video. BlendTec have added some serious entertainment value to what could potentially be a very standard approach to product demos:

You will see that this video has had nearly 17 million views (at time of writing). It is clever because it is funny but also manages to say something about the power of the product which of course is the key USP for a blender. An added extra, in terms of strategy, is that by associating with big brands and popular products (in this case the Apple iPad), it will increase interest in the video and therefore the view count.

Making a video that tells a story about your product

Another approach to combining engaging stories with your product is to tell a story about the product itself, or to make your product a significant part of a story that is about something else. To give you an idea of how this can work, here are some of our favourite examples:

1) Innocent Smoothies (Chain of Good)

In this online video ad, Innocent links the purchasing of their smoothies to a charitable cause. The video demonstrates the journey that ‘Mark’s’ money will go on – a primary link in the ‘chain of good’. There are stories within the wider story and we meet a family who have benefited from the fact that you (or Mark in this case) have bought a smoothie.

2) Chipotle (Back to the Start)

This short film tells the story of a story of a farmer who makes a mistake by turning his family farm into a factory. He realises his error and goes ‘back to the start’ by opting for a more sustainable model. It is a beautifully animated piece with a soundtrack of Willie Nelson covering Coldplay. Chipotle appear near the end (approx. 01:57); their logo is on the delivery truck that arrives to collect some of the produce from the sustainable farm. Subtle.

3) Stout Bottle Opener

This video can be seen on the Kickstarter page that was set up to raise funds for the development of this product. Despite it being very much a product explainer video, it also has some vital storytelling elements that have undoubtedly contributed to the massive success of the Stout Kickstarter campaign. They place the bottle opener into the American lifestyle – the American dream. In fact, this video almost makes you feel that the bottle opener was present at significant events in your past – even though it didn’t exist!

Each of these videos are very different, but all succeed in placing their product in a wider story, which offers the audience a chance to relate to the product and the impact it could have on them – or how it is in line with their own personal values.

Connecting your brand to a theme, and making a video about the theme (rather than your product)

This approach to storytelling is a lot braver than any other. But when you get it right, it can be extremely powerful. When we say ‘theme’ here, we are using the term to encompass very broad approaches – anything from ‘sport’ to ‘love’.

How you establish these themes is completely up to you. They may come to you naturally – because they are obvious to your business. It may be that it is a bit more complicated and difficult to pin down one in particular.

One company that does this really well is Guinness. After watching a video like the one below, who wouldn’t want to be associated with this brand? Fair enough, the Guinness itself does make an appearance at the end of the video, but it certainly isn’t the driving force. The driving force is the emotion behind the idea that “the choices we make, reveal the true nature of our character”. So in other words – ‘good’ men choose Guinness.

Connecting your brand to a theme, and making a series of videos about the theme

If you connect your brand or product to a theme successfully, it may be worth considering creating a series of video along the same theme.

Two finer examples of video series’ are the Intel “Look Inside” series and also the Expedia ‘Find Yours’ series.

The Look Inside series from Intel simply associates Intel with science and technology that has changed lives. Each video tells a story that is emotionally powerful. The Jack Andraka example above is brilliant. It tells the story of a 15-year-old who lost his uncle to pancreatic cancer and went on to invent an early detection method for cancer. He won the Grand Prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2012.

The Find Yours videos from Expedia are along the theme that ‘every trip is unique’. Each video therefore tells a unique story. The stories usually relate to people being united or reunited under different circumstances. The example above is about a father who travels to his daughter’s wedding, after accepting that her relationship is with another woman.

The process of connecting a brand with a story

If you would like to take these ideas a step further, here are some suggested questions to help you get started.

Who are your target customers?

What are their key values? What is important to them?

What kinds of experiences might your customers have in common?

What does your market research and customer feedback tell you? Maybe a customer has shared a story about their experience of your product/brand that could inspire a video.

What all of the examples in this post show, is that it doesn’t matter what your business does, there will be a way to find a story, it’s a question of devising the best angle for storytelling.

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Building Your Brand With A Marketing Agency

A company’s branding is an essential part of its marketing efforts, as a brand is the equivalent of a business’s personality and identity. Your brand will dictate how your customers recognize and define your business, so it’s important to develop a branding strategy that is consistent with the messages you’d like to relay and the reputation you’d like to uphold. 

Your company’s brand has a lot to do with design elements, like a logo, name, colors, fonts and website design. Your branding should represent your company’s story, culture, purpose and experiences. It should be more than just aesthetically pleasing. The following guide will help you focus on the elements of your company that should affect your branding decisions.

Bottom Line

Your branding should reflect your company’s story, not just be aesthetically pleasing.

For example, if you decide that your company is best described as “contemporary” and “playful,” you might want to choose bright colors to reflect your playful side, or use a contemporary sans serif typeset or font like Orkney, Aqua or Modeka.


Your company name should also represent your traits. Come up with a name that is memorable, simple and versatile. It should be relevant to what you do and tell a story about your company.

2. Know your audience.

You can’t appeal to your audience if you don’t know who’s in it. Ask yourself questions like these about your audience:

What industry does my ideal customer work in?

What type of content is my ideal customer looking for?

What is the size of the business my customer owns or works in [for B2B companies]?

Once you know who’s in your audience, you can better predict what your target market will respond to. This information should also help you build your brand. 

3. Have a message.

The most successful brands today have a message. It can be that you’re environmentally friendly, charitable or simply the coolest thing around. Whatever your message is, be proud of it. Shout it from the rooftops (or your website).

Bombas is a great example of a company with a memorable and meaningful message. Its message has two parts: that its socks are designed to be more comfortable than the competition, and that it donates a pair of socks to someone in need for every pair sold.

4. Be consistent.

Once you’ve determined what your brand is, everything should reflect that – your logo, your quotes and the way you describe your product. Keep the same tone and attitude across everything related to your brand.

Questions to guide your branding decisions

Ask yourself these questions to guide your own branding decisions or create brands for your clients:

Does my brand speak to my audience?

Does my brand tell a story about my company?

Is my company name memorable and versatile?

Does my brand appeal to the senses?

Do my branding choices reflect the values and culture of my company?

Will my customers have an idea of what to expect from working with us based on our name, logo and other branding materials?

Does all of my content have a distinct voice that is particular to my brand?

Is my branding content compatible with different media? Will it look good in print as well as online? Will it be appealing on my website as well as on different social media sites?

Is my branding simple and iconic?

Is my branding consistent across everything I do?

How To Write A Great Story With Gpt

How to Write a Great Story with GPT-4

I’ve been eager to unlock the power of GPT-4 to craft compelling stories.

Through trial and error, I’ve discovered that focusing on a slow, character-driven narrative can lead to a richer and more immersive reading experience.

In this blog post, I’ll share my step-by-step guide on how to harness GPT-4 to write an engaging story that leaves a lasting impact. So, join me as we dive into the fascinating world of AI storytelling and unleash our creativity together!

Read more or watch the YouTube video(Recommended)

YouTube: GPT-4 / ChatGPT Story Writing Tips

The importance of building a story slowly in GPT-4 is significant for several reasons:

In-depth character development and world-building: A gradual narrative allows for richer character development and a more detailed world. This creates an engaging and immersive experience for the reader.

Adherence to the “showing, not telling” principle: By slowing down the pace, GPT-4 can create vivid descriptions and natural dialogues that paint a picture of the events unfolding, rather than simply stating facts. This encourages readers to use their imagination and engage with the story more actively.

Intricate and suspenseful plotlines: A slower pace enables the AI to weave together various elements of the narrative, leading to a more cohesive and satisfying conclusion. This helps maintain reader interest and anticipation for the climax.

To summarize, a slow and steady pace in GPT-4 storytelling:

Enhances the quality of the narrative

Allows for richer character development and world-building

Adheres to the “showing, not telling” principle

Creates intricate and suspenseful plotlines

By implementing these techniques, GPT-4 can generate a more emotionally resonant and memorable reading experience.

How to write a Story in GPT-4 / ChatGPT: A Step-by-Step Guide

GPT-4, a powerful AI language model, can be an excellent tool to help you craft a compelling story. In this guide, we’ll outline a step-by-step process to write a story using GPT-4 based on the context provided above.

Step 1: Set your goal and intentions

Begin by defining your goal for the story, such as writing an engaging, slow-paced, and character-driven narrative. Your intentions might include a focus on “showing, not telling,” avoiding rushed storytelling, and creating an emotional thriller.

Step 2: Choose a persona for GPT-4

Create a persona for GPT-4 to assume while writing the story. In this case, the persona is a genre author whose task is to write stories in a rich, intriguing language with a very slow pace, focusing on in-depth character development and world-building.

Step 3: Develop a story template

Craft a template that outlines your story’s key elements, such as the genre, protagonist, author style, pacing, and length. In the context provided, the template includes elements like an emotional mystery thriller plot, heavy dialogue, and very slow pacing.

Step 4: Create a detailed story outline

Ask GPT-4 to develop a detailed outline for your story, focusing on your intentions and the elements in your template. To achieve a slower pace, request an outline for just the first chapter of a 12-chapter book. This will encourage GPT-4 to take its time building the story arc.

Step 5: Write the first chapter

Request GPT-4 to write the first chapter of your story, adhering to the story outline and template you’ve provided. Be specific about the word count you’re targeting and emphasize the importance of showing, not telling, along with character development, world-building, and dialogue.

Step 6: Review and edit

Go through the generated text, making any necessary edits or adjustments to ensure the story aligns with your intentions and goals. Keep an eye out for any inconsistencies or areas that need improvement.

Step 7: Continue writing

If you’re satisfied with the first chapter, continue the process by outlining and writing subsequent chapters. Adjust your prompts and instructions as needed to maintain the desired pacing and storytelling approach throughout the story.

By following these steps and leveraging the power of GPT-4, you can create a captivating story that showcases your unique vision. Don’t forget to collect feedback from readers and refine your prompts to improve the storytelling process further. With practice and persistence, you’ll be able to harness the full potential of GPT-4 in your creative writing endeavors.


In conclusion, my journey with GPT-4 has been an eye-opening and rewarding experience. I’ve learned the importance of pacing, character development, and the art of “showing, not telling” to create a rich and engaging story.

By carefully crafting prompts and iterating on my approach, I’ve been able to harness the full potential of this powerful AI tool for creative writing.

As I continue to explore and experiment with GPT-4, I’m filled with optimism about the endless possibilities it presents for authors and storytellers alike.

There’s no doubt that AI can be a valuable ally in the creative process, helping us bring our unique visions to life with more depth and nuance than ever before.

I encourage you to try it for yourself, and I can’t wait to see the incredible stories we’ll create together!

How Your Brand Can Become A Part Of The Live

It is estimated that in just a few years approximately three-quarters of all web traffic will be video. And, by 2023, mobile phone users are expected to spend on average 21 hours a month watching videos. For the business marketer looking to stay on top of and ahead of trends, this means video is the next frontier worth exploring.

That trend is evident with the buzz surrounding live streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope.

While live streaming platforms like Ustream and Bambuser have been around since 2007, Meerkat and Periscope are making it easier for people, and brands, to share moments with the world in a fun and entertaining way.

If you aren’t that familiar with either Meerkat or Periscope, just know that both are live-streaming apps that allow users to create and share videos immediately. Since both apps also link to a user’s Twitter account, user’s can tweet links to the live stream and engage followers in real-time. Currently, Meerkat and Periscope are available for Android & iOS users.

A Stream of Innovation: Meerkat vs. Periscope

In a recent Twitter survey, conducted by Research Now, found that 70% of people on Twitter watch videos in their news feed (rather than link through to another site). With 80% of Twitter users also opting to use the platform on a mobile device than a PC, it’s no surprise that they acquired Periscope right out the gate.

Periscope and Meerkat are the two leaders in the live streaming revolution right now. They give companies and individuals alike the ability to live stream video from wherever, whenever, and to whomever they want—for free.

The differences between the two platforms are worth considering if you haven’t signed up for either yet.

Meerkat was the first to launch and is a startup with an open API.

It’s free!

Being a startup, this platform does tend to be a bit glitchy. Users on here are more technically inclined though and, as such, are very helpful if you have questions on how to use the platform

Want the ability to plan, schedule, and promote your live feed ahead of time? You can do that a day ahead of the scheduled broadcast with Meerkat.

Third-party apps are often needed to access tools otherwise available on Periscope.


Periscope launched shortly after Meerkat and was quickly picked up by Twitter.

It’s also free.

Periscope has an easy-to-use interface and a very large user community, which is great for expanding your reach if you know what you’re doing!

While you cannot secure a hyperlink ahead of time for promotional purposes, one will be generated automatically when the recording starts and shared on Twitter for you.

If you’re looking to do a more targeted video stream (like for internal training purposes), Periscope lets you select your viewers.

An additional bonus here is the video “save” function. Anyone following you on the app can watch your live stream within 24 hours of the original broadcast.

Both platforms have grown exponentially since their inception, with thought leaders and celebrities in all fields signing on. Before you jump on and share your first broadcast, it is worth taking the time to figure out how you’ll add this to your marketing strategy.

How to Stream Open Lines of Communication

Whether you open the feed to discuss customer support questions or to create Q&A on a product or service, live video streaming is a great way to create and control that conversation with your followers and product end-users. It’s also really important that you establish the face of your company in these videos. People want to feel like they know who they’re talking to and not get bounced around from rep to rep.

Who’s Doing This Well?

Product Demonstrations and Promotions

Everything you do when marketing your company is ultimately so that you can land more sales. Why not use a live video to give people the opportunity to see your product or service in action? Just remember that the point of these videos is not solely to sell, sell, sell. It’s to interact, interact, interact.

Who’s Doing This Well?

Spotify’s live performance broadcasts.

Digital Republic’s photoshop and design training.

Break the News

Anyone who follows your brand would love to be in the know when big news strikes. Be honest about what’s going on with your brand—the good, the bad, and even the ugly. Your followers will appreciate the transparency.

Who’s Doing This Well?

Carly Fiorina launching her Presidential bid through a live town hall meeting.

Newscasters covering the riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

Adidas used Periscope to show the James Rodriguez contract extension.

Increase Your Thought Leadership

Everything you do in marketing is meant to boost your clout. Work to establish yourself as an industry leader by creating live features where you discuss an industry topic. If you have the connections, consider hosting an interview with other leaders in your industry so that you’re not just talking about wonderful you are, but also illustrating your collaborative spirit.

Who’s Doing This Well?

General Electric’s behind-the-scenes interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye.

Tablo Publishing uses live streaming to discuss how to publish online content.

Go Behind the Scenes

Most marketers have come to realize an inside look into a company’s world goes a long way with consumers. Let people take a walk in your shoes and learn some tips and secrets of what makes your brand unique and worth following.

Who’s Doing This Well?

Real estate companies and agents that offer live virtual tours of their listings and interact with interested customers in real-time.

The host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” uses both Meerkat and Periscope to provide viewers with behind-the-scenes segments.

Regardless of your industry, you can make live video streaming work for you. You just need to find the right angle that matches your brand’s identity and speaks to your specific audience.

To Record or Stream

Some marketers may be hesitant to get involved in a video sharing platform that takes away the seemingly well-planned and executed marketing strategies of the past. This generation of consumers aren’t necessarily looking for the well-groomed and perfectly thought-out strategy of “attack” though. They want genuine interactions and live video is the way to achieve that.

Words of Advice

If you’re ready to get into live streaming video, consider the following:

Plan, but don’t panic. It’s okay to plan out the general idea of your broadcast ahead of time, but remember that this should feel authentic. Unless you’re offering up a Q&A to talk about a highly sensitive issue or PR scandal, it’s okay to fly off the cuff a bit.

Repetition is key. You probably don’t create a blog post whenever the inspiration strikes, you probably have a weekly or monthly schedule. The same should go for these live video streams if you want them to be effective. Find your niche and plan a regular schedule your followers can come to know and look forward to on a regular basis.


Social media is all about joining a community, interacting, and feeling recognized. By using live video streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope, it shows you are willing to take the time and effort to make your followers a part of your company’s community.

Have you used Meerkat or Periscope? What was the response?

Image Credits

How To Add Music To Your Instagram Story

Instagram Stories are riding the wave in 2023. Introduced five years ago, Stories was created as a space where people could post more mundane photos without worrying about the impact they would have on their “curated” Instagram feeds. Music can now be added to Instagram Stories as well. The feature has been available for a while now, but if you haven’t had the chance to try it out yet, then this may be the time to finally do so. Read on to learn how to add music to your Instagram Story.

How to Create an Instagram Story

Alternatively, also from the main feed, swipe left on your screen, and you’ll be taken into Story mode directly. This method is handy, as it allows you to take a picture/video without having to exit Instagram, using the app’s own camera.

How to Add Music to Your Instagram Story

Once you have the Story’s basic component (image or video) ready, it’s time to add it into Instagram and adorn it with additional elements, including music.

1. No matter which technique you’ve used to create a Story, you’ll next have to swipe upward from your screen. Alternatively, you can tap on the Sticker icon located in the upper right of the screen.

2. From there, look for and select the music sticker. It’s not just a simple sticker, as you may be inclined to believe at first. Instead, activating it will have the effect of opening a music library where you can search for the tune that you want to add on top of your Story.

3. The music database is pretty extensive, so you should be able to find any song or artist you desire, even more obscure ones.

5. Next, we can customize how the music overlay looks. You can have the lyrics appear as the song is played, or you can simply add a discrete “music playing” sticker to the post or the song’s album art.

6. Just tap on the various options from the menu to select which you like best.

8. From the same Sticker section, users can also add further features, including stickers, GIFs and emoji. To promote interaction and engagement, you can also include a poll or ask questions simply by selecting the appropriate sticker.

How to Add Music to Your Instagram Story Directly from Spotify

For those who have Spotify, there’s a way to add the music you’re listening to into your Instagram Story right from the music-centric app.

1. From Spotify, tap on the music-playing bar at the bottom of the display.

2. Tap on the three-dot menu located in the upper-right corner.

3. Select Share.

4. Share to Instagram.

5. The action will create an Instagram Story featuring the album art and the name of the song.

6. The Story will display an actionable Play on Spotify option in the upper-left corner so that your friends can go listen to the track.

How to Add Music to Your Instagram Stories the Old Way

Before the music sticker was introduced to Instagram, users added their favorite tunes to their stories in a different fashion. This is how it was done.

1. Open the Spotify app and play a song. It can be a song from your own library as well.

2. In Instagram, swipe left on the display to bring up the Story filming screen. The song should continue playing in the background.

3. Start filming the Story by long-pressing the record button.

4. Once the video has been recorded, you can make additional adjustments to it by using the menu of options at the top.

5. Tap on the Story button in the lower-left corner to post your Story. Now when you play the Story, you should be able to hear the song in the background.

This is the old way of doing things, which may still come in handy if you can’t find certain songs in Instagram’s music database. As strange as that sounds, there are plenty of more obscure tunes you won’t be able to find on the app. This method still works if you really want to share some underground music as part of your Story.

How to Add Music to Your Instagram Post

If you were looking to add music to your standard Instagram posts, the bad news is that you can’t – not to images anyway. You can, however, follow the steps outlined in the section above to shoot a quick video Story with a musical background. Instead of posting it as a Story, use the Download button at the top to save it to your phone, then post the musical video to your profile.

How to Add Music to Your Instagram Reels

Instagram also offers a feature reminiscent of TikTok, which allows users to create short videos that can be shared with friends and other followers and discovered while browsing the app. Reels can be up to 15 seconds in length, and you can easily add some music on top of them.

1. Open the Instagram app, go to your feed and swipe left from the screen.

2. Select Reels from the menu at the bottom.

4. Tap on the musical note icon on the left side of the display to add your music.

5. Use the search bar on top to look for the song you want to add.

6. Select the part of the song which you want to include in the clip.

7. Start recording your miniclip.

8. When you’re done, press “Preview,” then “Next.”

9. Type a caption, then press the “Share” button to show the Reel to your followers.

Frequently Asked Questions 1. Why Can’t I Add Music to My Instagram Stories?

Having issues with adding the song you want to your Instagram story? Here are some things you may want to try in an attempt to fix the issues:

Check to see if you have the latest version of Instagram installed. Go to the app’s page on the Google Play Store and check if there’s a green update button. If so, tap on it to get the latest version.

Keep in mind that Instagram music may not be yet available in your region. If that’s the case, then all you can do is wait until Instagram expands the availability of the option. Unfortunately, it may take a while before that happens.

If you’re trying to add music to your Stories from a Business account, you may not be able to include certain songs due to limitations. If that happens, simply switch to a regular account or use the old way of adding music to your Stories, as was explained earlier.

As mentioned above, the song you are looking for may not be available via Instagram’s music database or could be restricted due to legal reasons.

2. Can I add music from music services other than Spotify to Instagram Stories?

Sure. For example, you can link Shazam to Spotify or Apple Music and from there easily add the song to your Story. The same can be done using other popular music apps like Soundcloud. Just get them on your phone and use the sharing option.

3. Can I add music to my Stories from Instagram’s web app?

The short answer is no. By default, Instagram for Web does not allow users to upload Stories. However, it’s possible to do so with a nifty Chrome extension, but you can’t add music to it. What you can do is upload a video story which has been previously edited to include a song as background via your PC.

Now that you’ve learned how to dazzle your followers with your eclectic musical tastes, you may be interested in learning more Instagram tricks – for example, how to add a link to your Stories, how to download Stories from a PC and how to watch videos together with your Instagram friends.

Alexandra Arici

Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.

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Modern Professional Learning: Connecting Plcs With Plns

Supercharge your PLC by blending in ideas from your PLN and encouraging more traditional community members to sample these networks’ free-flowing ideas.

Great teaching knowledge dies every day. It retires. It leaves. Perhaps the secret of saving this knowledge lies in a unique melding of two professional learning practices that teachers use today: the professional learning community (PLC) and the professional learning network (PLN). Someone must pass along the knowledge. Someone must “build the craft.” Excellent craftsmanship throughout history often happened in places where large professional networks grew.

The same is true today.

The Professional Learning Community

The PLC has long been a mainstay of excellent schools. Jonathon Saphier (PDF) found:

Typically a Professional Learning Community is “a group of educators that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students.”

But this isn’t a “book group.” A PLC is made up of “a school’s professional staff members who continuously seek to find answers through inquiry and act on their learning to improve student learning.” (Huffman and Hipp 2003)

Why PLCs Are Effective

But, there’s a new element of PLCs and their ability to improve teaching. Matthew Kraft and John Papay (PDF) found:

After their first few years of teaching, those teachers who continue to improve are those in more supportive environments. PLCs can provide that support.

So, to summarize, a PLC is typically:

Face to face

High accountability

Comprised of colleagues from a face-to-face or daily environment

Comprised of peers with similar professional responsibilities

And educators who work in highly supportive environments (including the collaboration in PLCs) tend to improve more over time than those who do not.

Struggles of the PLC

Sometimes PLCs can experience challenges such as:

A limited inflow of ideas

Being a closed network including only those at the school

Limited in real conversations about real problems by school politics

An unwillingness to try new things or accept new ideas

Before Twitter, the RSS reader was a primary PLN-building method. Now, PLNs are different for each person. They’ve become profoundly personal. Some educators log into Twitter and talk about their topic using hashtags. Some teachers love private Facebook groups, others use Pinterest, and still others use Voxer.

PLNs are typically:

Online and open

More informal

Open to a free flow of ideas

Often welcoming to newcomers

Many educators are finding a supportive environment in online spaces. PLN support could explain why some teachers in non-supportive schools may be innovating anyway.

PLNs’ weaknesses are:

Teachers get excited about an idea but meet resistance in their local school.

Teachers have no way to share and discuss ideas with their local school.

Some educators use their PLN inconsistently and have no accountability to keep learning.

PLNs can be overwhelming because it seems like too much, or users can’t focus.

Authentic conversations can become dominated by a few loud voices.

Some hashtag founders exhibit territorial behavior that limits conversation.

Trolls and spammers can derail hashtag conversations.

5 Ways to Connect your PLN and PLC for Greater Learning and Legacy

Creating tighter connections between the PLN’s open flow of ideas and the PLC’s accountability is not a new idea. In 2009, Barbara Bray wrote an article entitled “Your PLN helps your PLC become a CoP.”

Here are five ways to make it happen:

1. Intentionally connect face to face and online.

In his book, What Great College Teachers Do, author Ken Bain found that the best teachers are “part of a larger learning environment. They worked on major curricular objectives and contributed to public conversations about improving teaching in their organizations.” (p 20)

Booker T. Washington, the great post-Civil War educator and founder of the Tuskegee Institute said in Up From Slavery:

Great teachers should be part of a PLC and a PLN.

2. Keep it simple.

“Blend” your school’s PLC by creating an online space for it. Make this a simple place to share resources and ideas gleaned from participants’ PLNs. Many teachers don’t collaborate online because it’s just one more thing to do. Make it simple to share. Give the less social-media-savvy educators simple options such as an email subscription to a few blogs.

3. Know your purpose.

“He that is everywhere is nowhere,” said Thomas Fuller, chaplain to Charles II of England. Knowing what outcome you want helps your organizers and teachers focus on what matters. Otherwise, you may have a flurry of activity that accomplishes nothing but noise.

Encourage educators to share ideas. Set specific goals. You can’t be everywhere and do everything. Focus can achieve incredible results if you’re all searching your PLNs for new ideas to tackle a troubling issue in your PLC.

4. Encourage new habit creation.

Some schools struggle with PLC and PLN creation because teachers must create new habits. Former Harvard researcher Shawn Achor says, “If you can make the positive habits 3 to 20 seconds easier to start, your likelihood of doing it rises dramatically.”

Forming a new habit might be as simple as putting a shortcut on teacher desktops or setting your browser start page to an online PLC or PLN. You might include a PLN/PLC daily challenge and give rewards for those who accept it.

5. Link the online and face-to-face worlds.

Administrators and others should mention the online spaces in staff meetings. Likewise, an online reflection of something said at the PLC helps show continuity. Educators should see both the online and face-to-face spaces as substantial parts of their PLC.

PLCs and PLNs Are Vital Conduits for the Craft of Teaching

Joining a PLC and PLN isn’t an either-or choice. I would argue that the best educators have powerful PLCs, but they also bring ideas from their PLN to the conversation.

These two professional development modalities can become even stronger as we link them together in blended learning spaces. Let’s get serious about using our networks in even more powerful ways. Let’s supercharge our PLCs with our PLNs today!

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