In this day and age social media is a crucial aspect of growing your career and network. This is especially so for professionals seeking new roles or promotions with their current employer. Put simply, if you do not have an active and ongoing social media presence you are at a severe disadvantage.
Yet, while social media can offer you a wonderful opportunity in which to build your personal brand and expand your career horizons it is also true that few professionals use social media to its full capacity; and many make mistakes along the way that either distracts or diminishes their efforts to grow their profile. So, how to succeed in social media and avoid the pitfalls of its use?
I. Give genuine value
It is totally OK if you’ve just completed a major project at work to hop on LinkedIn and let people know it’s finally done. The same applies when get a promotion, start a new job, or a big event occurs at the office which the world really should know about. Yet, it’s important to ensure this is balanced with content that offers universal value to your network. So, rather than just posting content that concerns you exclusively, look to mix it up by posting industry-related news, updates, and research. This ensures people will always read what you post with interest – and avoid seeing you labelled as that one person always just self-promoting on social media.
II. Use platforms consistently and effectively (or don’t use at all)
Whether you have just one social media platform or a dozen the core necessity is to ensure consistent and regular use throughout. While it’s fine to have a predominant social media platform – and then others that are secondary and used slightly less often – you also don’t want a headhunter or employer coming across your Twitter feed that you’ve not updated since 2012.
This is because it could give the impression your inattentive, forgetful or many others attributes you don’t want promoted alongside your professional brand. So, if you find one of the social media platforms you’ve used prior falling into disuse, either make a committed effort to return and update it regularly going forward, or close it down.
III. Recognise your audience and keep it professional
Nobody likes working with a robot so it is totally OK to show some personality and a sense of humour even when using professional sites such as LinkedIn. Rather than being a drawback, professionals who can put forth a social media presence that communicates effectively and shows personality invariably are the cream that rise to the top. Yet, at the same time, it is important to remain mindful of your audience and the public nature of it. This means ensuring you don’t post anything that could be seen as rude or offensive – and if you find your friend has posted up a less than stellar snap of you from happy hour last thursday – takes steps right away to ensure its removed.
IV. Use precision and seek to actively connect
Many professionals who wish to use social media to advance their career often put in much effort but yield little result. While factors can vary, undoubtedly the scattergun approach taken by so many is a chief cause of this outcome. So, instead of just posting up content across 5 social media platforms saying you’re looking for a new opportunity and hoping for the best, use hashtags, use photos (great for catching people’s eyes amidst a wall of text), and consider using analytical sites like Buzzsumo to help identify the people in your industry and audience you are looking to engage with. Doing this ensures you’ll pursue a social media strategy that delivers you precise and sophisticated engagement rather than a broad and generalist reach out alone.
Finally, recognise oftentimes less is more, and so if you are able to consistently grow your audience and engagement with others via LinkedIn and your personal blog – but find by contrast your Facebook or Google+ isn’t delivering a good return on investment for time put in – seek to make your online presence more compact. Ultimately, growing your audience on social media is just like growing your network in real life: it is built upon mutual likeability and interest in shared outcomes. So, be the person everyone wants to be friends with online; not the loud self-promoter in the next office over.