Social media has evolved from posts about break ups to a vital element in building careers, but how do you make the jump from sharing memes to networking?
Among the many divisive issues in our modern society, social media is one of the hottest. Many people hate it, more people love it and despite how you feel about it, it has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. For that reason, it must be recognized and – if you can swing it – utilized in the healthiest way possible.
I’m not talking about being “Instagram Famous”, I’m talking about young professionals and business owners using social media to reach their target audience.
So how does social media become a useful tool for you as a young professional? Start with where you’re building your profiles. What platforms make sense for your industry?
Twitter is an easy one that could be used for anything: Use Twitter. Tweet at people/businesses, tag people/businesses, hashtag, reply and retweet. Twitter happens fast, try to keep up without letting it consume you.
LinkedIn isn’t glamorous and it’s something the adults did while we were making Facebook the monster that it is, but it’s SO important. Use LinkedIn. It is an online resume you can update in realtime, people can view your profile all the time. This means your résumé is quite literally always out there. It’s silly not to use LinkedIn. Don’t be silly.
Instagram is tricky. Does it make sense for your industry? Maybe not if you’re an accountant, but definitely if you’re an artist. Post your projects, post your works in progress (#wip!) post your next show, your recent publication! And utilize Instagram Stories. Due to changes in their algorithm, Instagram hasn’t been chronological in ages. Instead, you see the posts of accounts you have “liked” the most. So if you have a new follower, they will initially see a lot of your posts but if they don’t click “like” then they won’t see much of you after that. How do you combat that? Stories! Stories show up in everyone’s feed and come down after twenty-four hours. The best way to use this function is to repost what you’ve put recently on your profile publicizing that you have a new post on your profile. The ol’ bait and hook if you will!
Facebook is a controversial question mark. Like Instagram, it makes sense in certain industries but not others. It’s also falling out of favor and popularity because of their privacy policies. Facebook shouldn’t be a high priority but if you have a Facebook profile already, you probably have one you’ve had since you were thirteen. Untag some of those photos people, trust me. Another rule of thumb with Facebook is to create a profile later on for yourself. Once you achieve 300 followers on Instagram, a Facebook account is an appropriate next step.
Tips for Using Social Media Professionally
Don’t be silly; be professional. When building your social media account, remember who your audience is. You don’t want your boss or potential boss reading tweets about drinking pitchers of Margaritas with your friends on the weekends even though they’re probably doing something very similar. It’s ok to have two profiles, in fact, I recommend it. One profile for your professional connections and one for your friends. (Remember that even if you’re Instagramming as an artist to separate your profiles, it’s ok if you cross-post content but keeping one focused on your work makes you appear more focused on your work.)
#Hashtag. I can’t emphasize this enough. Hashtag your stories, hashtag your posts, hashtag in your dreams. Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag. And click on those hashtags, see what other people hashtagging the same subject are posting. See what they’re also hashtagging, do that as well. Hashtag.
Follow and like people and businesses in your industry. See who those people are following, liking and hashtagging. Get on that wagon if it pertains to you.
Public vs. private. It’s a professional page, you have nothing to hide. Make it public. (Make your personal page private, that way you can see if your boss wants to follow you and ignore their request.)
By utilizing social media, you become an active member in the ongoing conversation of your industry. Your hat is in the ring, so to speak. You can strike up a digital and/or real life conversation with your coworkers or other people in the same industry, and make connections easier than our grandparents ever could. This is a valuable tool, it ought to be embraced.