HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOU ADVANTAGE AT A GLANCE:
- Your social media is an extension of yourself
- Being professional doesn’t mean you’re boring
- What you should be posting on social media
- Building a personal brand
Knowing the dos and don’ts of social media as a young professional can help you avoid mistakes and leverage opportunities.
Gain invaluable benefits by learning how to leverage your social media presence early on, such as building a personal brand, managing your search results, networking, and even boosting your career. However, social media can be detrimental to your professional career when you create rushed, loosely constructed, or inappropriate social profiles.
Let’s get into how you can start taking advantage of social media.
My Social Media is an Extension of Myself?
It’s true. Your social media is an extension of yourself — your interests, hobbies, and character traits are all on display for the world to see. Statistics show that more and more employers are screening their hiring candidates based on their social media profiles, which is why it is so important to guard your online reputation and present yourself professionally.
I often hear arguments of, “It shouldn’t matter what I post online, the only thing that should matter is what I bring to the table as an employee,” or, “My social media is just a fun outlet for me where I express myself.” While I agree that you should value your skills and professional qualities and that social media is meant to be a creative outlet, it’s essential to recognize that social media exists in all aspects of our lives — both personal and professional. At one point, there may have been a distinction between a personal and professional profile, but now, everything is so permanent and accessible, which means you need to be critical of your content.
But Doesn’t Professional Mean Boring?
Absolutely not. Maintaining a professional profile doesn’t mean you have to lose your personality in the process and, in fact, I’d strongly advise against it. I encourage you to showcase the things that make you unique while being aware of the fine line between personality and professionalism. We’ll talk about building a personal brand in a moment.
A simple way to avoid appearing unprofessional on social media is by remembering to stay clear of controversies such as sexual photos/comments, mention of illegal drugs, photos of alcohol consumption, violence, use of profanity, off-colour commentary, or poor use of grammar. If you’re ever questioning something you’re about to post, the odds are that you shouldn’t be posting it. As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t be proud to show it to your mother or employer — don’t post it.
However, you may decide that asserting your “questionable” personal values on social media is vital to your character and authenticity, and hopefully, the decision attracts like-minded people with similar values. I encourage you to do whatever feels right for you but be aware that not everyone will be receptive. Trust your instincts!
What Should I be Posting on my Social Media?
Before you start posting on any social media platform, stop and think about your personal brand. Remember, social media is an extension of you. Like a brand that represents a particular company, a personal brand is a manifestation of yourself. It’s a chance to communicate and present your value online. Few people take the time to craft their authentic message and build a genuine brand. Don’t think of the term brand in the sense of business — think of it as a guiding principle that will help keep you accountable and consistent. Doing so will help you determine what to post, stand out among your competitors, attract the right network of like-minded individuals, and impress potential employers.
How do I build a Personal Brand?
Building a personal brand can’t happen overnight. It requires a fair amount of time and thought, but it’s worth the effort if you’re looking to create a substantial online presence. Here are three steps to help you understand how to brand yourself on social media.
1) What are your brand goals?
Why are you building a personal brand? Are you looking to differentiate yourself from the competition? Or promote a specific skill?
Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you shape the kind of content you’ll need to post and choose the platforms you should be on.
2) Define your area of expertise
This is where you showcase what you stand for and how people should view you. Think about your skills, credentials, passions, interests, values, and beliefs. What do you bring to the table that you can capitalize on? For instance, if you’re looking to stand out to an employer, display your expertise and credentials on your page, but make sure to work it into the context of a bigger picture. The fact that you have a master’s degree shouldn’t consume all that you are on social media, but it should be present.
3) Consistency is key
Let your personal brand guide your decision making and keep you accountable. Once you authentically establish your brand and determine how you want to be portrayed by others, match your content and messaging to that portrayal. Build, craft, and enhance your brand by bringing attention to your skills and work.
Avoid doing off-brand things that don’t align with your values. For instance, if you claim to be a kind and understanding person, don’t be confrontational online.
Say what you mean and mean what you say.