We’ve always been told that we aren’t objects. Well, today, we’re going to be. Except people aren’t buying your product, they’re buying you, which means you are your product! They’re buying the salesperson, which again is you. What better way to have your pitch reach hundreds (or thousands or even millions!) of new people than through social media?
Your goal is to build your network of people that share your interests including colleagues, classmates, friends, and customers. You don’t just want to build numbers, you want to build a quality web of followers.
“Activate your fans, don’t just collect them like baseball cards.” -Jay Baer
So how do you do that?
- Pick one social media application and become the boss of it. You’ve heard that it’s better to be good at one thing as opposed to okay at a bunch of things, so apply this to your social media presence!
- Be a part of the conversation. This is how you get yourself out there! Comment, retweet, share, do whatever you can to contribute something valuable.
- Believe in yourself! You’re promoting you after all. People can tell when you’re not being genuine and/or aren’t fully supportive of something. Confidence makes all the difference, so don’t ever doubt yourself.
- Maintain a consistent identity across all platforms. Use the same name on all of your social media profiles so that people not only find you, but are able to know it’s you. Hiring managers won’t waste their time looking into you if you make it hard for them. Help them help you!
- Maintain great content. This is your foundation, so make sure you have it! The point of social media branding may be to advertise yourself, but it’s not just blatant advertising. It’s a place for sharing your interests and passions so that you can show that you are more than just a resume. You do this by offering advice, asking questions, posting insights, sharing interesting or relevant links, and basically just interacting with people online. You want to get your brand out there, not just your name.
Social media branding is so important because hiring managers are using it to find potential recruits more and more each year. According to a 2010 survey (found here),
92% of the companies surveyed currently hiring use, or plan to use, social media for recruiting. Of this 92%, 86%use LinkedIn, 60% use Facebook, and 50% use Twitter.
36% of these hiring companies will spend less on job boards while 50% plan to invest more in social media recruitment.
These statistics are from 2010, so I’m sure the percentages have increased over the past 6 years.
What’s the best way to find and make relevant connections?
Hashtags are your new best friend. They let you see what other people are posting that is similar to you, which you can use as inspiration. They also allow other people to find you relevant to a certain topic. Hashtags help keep similar information together and can therefore connect you with people of similar goals, passions, and interests.
To make hashtags work for you, you need to be specific. They will help you reach highly targeted tag pages (and, as a result, like minded people) if you are relevant in describing your post. This will attract new followers with a genuine interest in your content. After all, the numbers don’t matter if they don’t stick around!
Be observant too. Pay attention to what’s popular online, like the #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag that went viral not too long ago. Also research which hashtags are used more often, especially for the same thing. For example, #vw is used twice as often as #volkswagen (source). This is great to know if you’re trying to reach Volkswagen for a professional connection!
There are a lot of similarities between platforms and how you tackle them, but you should also tailor your approach to each application you’re broadcasting on at a given moment. Let’s take a look at 6 of the most well-known platforms out there!
Facebook is my personal favorite because it’s so multi-faceted. Not only can you post articles and status updates, but you can also create photo and video albums, stream live to your friends online, and even buy/sell things!
Keep your profile up to date, especially with your education and what you do for work. Use these milestones (and others) to further enhance your image!
It is also super beneficial to find groups related to your field, hobbies, and interests. They help you meet so many new people and you can find some legit opportunities through them. I’ve found that everyone is so nice and genuinely want to help you succeed! Groups can help you make relevant connections and give you great exposure, knowledge, resources and even new friends!
All that being said, obviously Facebook can be personal, but it can also help you professionally. It’s important that you only keep one account, however. Don’t try to have two separate personal and work profiles because that violates Facebook’s terms of service and both profiles can be removed.
Twitter is great because it’s concise. It’s like a micro blog and it may be the most up to date social media source for a company because it’s so concise. Think of Twitter as a tool to help you research and familiarize yourself with a company before committing to a job opportunity. What is the company retweeting in addition to their own material? These kinds of related but not necessarily company-related interests would be great to bring up during an interview or networking session!
Twitter is best for joining conversations in real time. Retweet what you find interesting and engage by replying to and tagging your followers!
I’ve never used Instagram, so I apologize in advance for my lack of personal experience in this area. I do know, however, that hashtags are a big part of Instagram in helping reach people of worth to you. My roommate‘s brother actually got some offer from Eno after tagging them in one of his pictures!
The biggest thing with Instagram, since it is all pictures, is to make sure your photos are classy. This means no alcohol, no parties, and no profanity. This goes for all other applications as well, but I want to enforce it here.
Interact with your community. You can do this through relevant tags such as #eastcoast or #NYC. Also remember to geotag your photos, which you can do after you leave the filters screen. This is great for exposure since anyone will be able to search and view the photos tagged at a certain location.
Since Instagram is so popular, it can boost visits to your other social media profiles, so link to something important in your profile! Enable sharing of your instas to other platforms such as Facebook to help build views and cross-platform exposure. Less work for you but with a greater reward!
Who doesn’t want to be “discovered” on YouTube right? Vlogs or other videos are an awesome way to show that you are a real person with a real personality and real interests outside of your resume. It lets you be creative and get your ideas out to the world however you would like. Make sure your videos are appropriate and have substance if you want to bring them up in a professional conversation though!
Yes, LinkedIn is classified as a social media application. It’s a professional social network, so clearly it’s something worth looking into! If you don’t know what LinkedIn is or how it can help you, read this. I love LinkedIn because I like having a more expansive, detailed resume and it’s easier to stay up to date with any professionals you may have met somewhere.
Make sure your profile is complete, including pictures. It helps make you seem more real, dedicated, and committed! As I mentioned, also make sure you expand on what you’ve listed on your profile to help give any viewers some context or background. Think of LinkedIn as your most current, most informative resume! Your resume is like the abstract and your LinkedIn is like the paper.
Join groups here as well! You never know who you might connect with and what you can do for each other.
6. Personal Website or Blog
There is a difference between a personal website and a blog, but either will help you professionally! They showcase your writing ability, creativity, and dedication as well as give you a place to record and compile all of your thoughts. #winwin
If you want to start building your own website, read this for blogs or this for personal websites! I highly, highly, highly recommend Thomas Frank for anything related to website building (and college academics in general, let’s be honest), so these are, in my opinion, the best places to start for research and tutorials!
What to post?
Don’t forget that the point of social media is to, you know, be social. You aren’t using it to be a passive bystander, you need to interact and in a way that is valuable to others. Don’t just interact with your friends or people you know either; participate in the community at large! Find ways to combine your interests with what’s popular in your area. Make sure you retain your own identity, but express your personality in a way that will attract like-minded people to you.
Know the difference between curation and creation. Both are important and will help you, so finding that balance is crucial. Curation is “the act of sharing other people’s content” where as “creation is making your own” (via). As we just saw with personal websites, creating your own content gives you a position of power over your thoughts, directs more people to you as an online presence, and helps your name pop up more in search engines.
Online Etiquette and Common Mistakes
Being active online is important, but you need to go about it the right way:
Take initiative online. Don’t always be a reaction- create your own action sometimes too!
Don’t waste people’s time. Know what you’re talking about, put time into everything you post, and make sure there is something they can take away from it!
Know the line between personal and public life.
Don’t fall victim to grammar Nazis i.e. don’t give them a reason to attack you
Don’t share something that will get you in trouble, either now or in the future. Knowing your audience is important in this. Be yourself and stand by your values and opinions, but keep it appropriate and accepting of all people.
Be kind and stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves to those that aren’t kind.
Protect yourself and your accounts. Online security is no joke!
Take responsibility for what you post, but also give credit where credit is due.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Tackle one or two platforms at a time and build yourself up slowly. Overcommitting can lead to inconsistency, which looks unprofessional and will not help you.
Don’t spam. Be aware of how often you’re posting- you don’t want to overwhelm your followers and end up putting them off!
These are obvious and should be common sense, but it’s definitely worth repeating especially when dealing with your professional persona.
“Social Media is about the people! Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide for you.” -Matt Goulart
~Which social media application do you use most often?