Becoming a Social Media Influencer

I teach a class in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland called “Becoming a Social Media Influencer”. It’s a hands-on class where students create social media accounts (or work with ones they already have) and learn how to make good content, to build a community, to gain insights into social media algorithms, and to develop strategies for growing their accounts. We do in-class critiques and offer feedback along with doing readings and trying out new tech.

I come to this from my own experience as a computer scientist who studies social media and as someone who has a bunch of sort-of popular accounts. I run @theGoldenRatio4 on Twitter (~120,000 followers), Instagram (~100,000 followers), SnapChat (~400,000 followers), and pretty much everywhere else. I have a much smaller account where I post about running (jenRunsWithDogs on Twitter and Instagram) that has about 20,000 followers on both platforms. Combining my academic research plus experience with these accounts has informed a lot of what’s in this class.

I know not everyone can take my class! College classes are expensive and time consuming. This post is going to give you some of the high-level content. These are all topics, readings, and lecture videos from the class. It’s not everything we do, but if you just want to learn some of the material, it’s a great place to start.

Who am I?

What does it mean to be an influencer?

Content Types

External videos on this topic:


Creating good content

Editing in Lightroom

Engagement and Analytics


Connecting to Community



Propagation — How things spread in social networks

This is a more technical topic!

We start with some basic terminology of understanding the structure of social networks. This really helps you understand how things spread in networks, but it’s a lot of detail. These videos cover material in my book . You may just want to jump ahead to the video on how to make posts popular, but some of the terminology I use there may not make sense if you skip the other videos.

For More…

If you want to learn more, I post videos on these topics semi-regularly over on my YouTube channel. Check in there or give it a follow if you’re interested in finding more

Prof @ UMD iSchool, computer scientist, social media analyst

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