Social media is exactly that: social.
It grew up as a means to connect with friends and family. However, brands and companies have also grown around this, and social platforms have become a key source of information, on both companies and individuals alike. It is no surprise, these days that potential employers will look at your social profiles as an extension of your CV and job application. But, the question is, does your online persona reflect the professional image you want to put forward?
Striking a balance is, of course, important because you want to use these platforms for their primary purpose of socialising, and reflecting your personality, but you also need to present a true depiction of yourself that you would be proud to put in front of your future boss.
Stating the obvious
There are many warnings out there that advise you how to behave on social media in a professional context. Such warnings include having a social media ‘audit’, removing any unflattering — professionally speaking — photos from your profiles, and past posts that may not paint you in quite the right light to future employers, as well as doing a quick Google search on your own name to see what others may see. However, you don’t want to completely erase your social footprint beyond any recognition of human personality. Express opinions, have fun, and just be mindful of the overall persona you want to show, publicly.
Another key consideration, that should be a high priority when organising your social profiles, is the privacy settings you have in place for each one. This is not to say that you should make all your accounts private — quite the contrary. You want certain people to be able to find you easily, but this will depend on the individual platform. Some sites, such as Facebook, for example, you may want to keep relatively private, as it is largely a family domain. Twitter and LinkedIn, on the other hand, are great platforms to connect with people and extend your network, and so privacy settings may be a little more open. In each case, treat the platform individually and, most importantly, protect personal details you don’t want to share, and never put yourself at risk.
The key thing, across all platforms, is to think about the message that you want to be putting out there. When sharing articles, for example, consider what publications you want to associate yourself with. What shared opinions could cause controversy, that may cost you a job?
Take advantage of each platform’s strengths
Use each social platform to its advantages, and distinguish what is appropriate for each platform, and what is not. For example, sharing your achievements and employment history is essential on LinkedIn, but may feel out of place on the likes of Facebook or Instagram. Having said that, stating your current job title is common, and often helpful, in social biographies across all platforms.
Twitter is the perfect platform for engaging with people in your field, or desired field. Follow influencers in the space, and engage regularly with ongoing conversations, or with people you aspire to work with, or follow in the footsteps of.
Facebook remains largely the domain of friend and family connections, so you can afford to be somewhat freer on here. However, recognise that your profile may still be viewed in the interview stages as a prime source of information on who you are as a person, beyond what your CV details.
Whilst you want to use each platform in a way that caters to its strengths, building a social media presence for yourself also means keeping a consistent message across all sites. This will include the information you share about yourself, the tone of voice you use, and the views expressed.
Consistency is key
Keeping a strong social presence is important not only when you are in the recruitment stages, but also when you are in employment — and especially if you own, or are the face of, a company. You would not want to be seen sharing any articles, or expressing views, that are not in keeping with your brand, particularly if your name is publicly connected with the company — even if that is just in a Twitter bio. There have been many cautionary tales of individuals losing their jobs due to their less-than-desirable online activity.
The extent of social media integration, these days, presents an exciting opportunity, beyond any form of media that has preceded it. It provides a platform to engage with topics that interest you, people that inspire you, and where you can have influence. Optimising your social media presence is also about taking advantage of these platforms, and making the most of them. Make connections that matter, and filter out those that don’t progress your thinking, or drive to succeed.
Most of all, it is about presenting yourself in a way that reflects your potential, your personality, and your hireability, whilst maintaining the social attributes and fun that got you set up on the platform to begin with.
About the Author
Danielle Smith, Content and Social Media Executive, Curated Digital