There’s no denying the power and reach of social media these days. It’s estimated that, in 2020, nearly 4 billion of us use some form of social media in some capacity.
It used to be that Linked In was the platform for your ‘work life’ whereas Facebook and Instagram were the places to share your personal updates and photos. But more and more, the lines between personal and professional profiles are becoming blurred. Whatever your presence on social media it all feeds into your personal brand, so a good rule to follow is that you should act online as you would in real life.
Social media can provide countless opportunities to boost your career - whether it’s networking, finding sales opportunities, learning more about an industry or organisation, or job hunting, to name just a few.
Before we look at how you can use social media to your advantage, it’s important to first address how to make sure it’s not going to put you at a disadvantage.
All of the main platforms have plenty of privacy settings to make sure you’re in control of what can be seen and by who. You’ll not only want to ensure these are set as you want them now but also for your historical posts too. As these options have changed and developed over the years, it’s important to look back through your profile and check that any potential incriminating posts from years gone by aren’t inadvertently on show. This isn’t just limited to posts you have made yourself, it also extends to posts from others you might have shared or liked, or accounts you follow that you maybe no longer want to be affiliated with.
Another important exercise is to google yourself and see what comes up. You never know when a potential employer, client or colleague might be looking at you.
If you really want to keep your work life and your personal life separate, it’s a good idea to create new ‘work only' profiles on your chosen platforms, and keep your personal profiles locked down with tighter privacy settings.
POLISH YOUR PROFILE
Treat your bio with the same care and attention as you would your CV, it’s a place to set out your background, experience, and interests - review it regularly to keep it fresh and up to date. Social media allows for a less formal tone; a good aim is to strike a balance between professional whilst still ensuring your personality comes across.
Carefully curate your profile picture - it’s not usually necessary to have a formal shot but do keep it professional, think about how you’re presented and the setting. It’s best to avoid using heavy filters, holiday shots, and group photos, for example.
It’s also important to stay consistent, you don’t necessarily need to post every day but a regular presence is much better than sporadically posting too much at once.
CURATE WHO YOU FOLLOW
Which accounts you follow and who you connect with are important. Consider following businesses, influential leaders or industry-relevant accounts which align with your interests.
Updates from these accounts are then collated on your feed which makes it easy for you to engage and interact.
SHARE AND ENGAGE
Don’t stop after clicking follow - demonstrate your interests/knowledge by sharing, commenting, and engaging with relevant posts.
Not only will it help to increase your following, but you’ll start to get your name noticed within your industry by people outside of your network.
Social media is very fast-moving - posts can become old news and outdated very quickly - so if there’s an important event, you need to get involved as soon as you can.
CREATE YOUR OWN CONTENT
In addition to sharing other people’s relevant content, why not create your own?
There’s a multitude of options out there depending on your chosen medium - you could write blogs, create infographics using free tools such as Canva, produce video content or start a podcast, or do a mixture of them all. You don’t need fancy technology, most things you can do from your smartphone.
It’s an invaluable way to tangibly showcase your expertise and looks great on your CV too.
Particularly during covid times, networking and other events such as job fairs and industry expos have moved online.
Whilst you lose out on the face-to-face connection, they’re still a great way to meet and engage with people and you don’t have the commitment of travel costs and large entry fees.
If you are in the market for a new role, social media is on the rise as a top place to look. Not only do many companies advertise directly (after all, their followers are likely to have an interest in them already), but recruitment teams, including recruitment agencies, are often bypassing advertising altogether and going for a direct approach. Connecting with key figures in your industry and being active on social media in the right way, will almost definitely give you an advantage over other candidates.
It’s clear to see that social media is here to stay and, when used in the right ways, could be the key to elevating your career to the next level.