Building a professional social media profile
Thinking about setting up a social media account to reflect your professional endeavours and goals? Here is how to cultivate a network of influencers and separate your personal accounts from your work interests.
If you want to be noticed by potential employers, build a brand or assert yourself as a future leader, then it's wise to put some time into your professional social media account.
If you would like to learn more, David Levin, writer and Creative Director at social media agency That Lot, will conduct a Social Media Masterclass workshop as part of the ICAS Practitioners' Conference on 8 November.
With a focus on Twitter and a side-order of Facebook and LinkedIn, David will cover tone of voice, creative uses of imagery and video, customer engagement, stats and analytics, and platform innovation, as well as basics for those not well-versed in the art of social gold.
1. Determine whether any current social media accounts can be tweaked for a professional basis.
Do you already have a social media account? What sort of things do you post on it? Do you primarily use it for engaging in personal issues, or do you discuss a broad range of topics related to work? Think about the types of messages you have already posted, and whether you are happy for employers (current or future) to read them.
If you decide to convert a current personal account, you may need to 'spring-clean' your messages - including the ones that mention you. You can already adjust privacy settings in Facebook, but this is more complicated for LinkedIn, and means converting an account from open to closed on Twitter.
Be sure to add your professional website or affiliations, and apply to have your account verified for an added stamp of authenticity.
2. Choose your platform.
Are you the type to passively post messages and occasionally comment on other posts? Then LinkedIn may be best. If you prefer everyday interaction with key influencers, then Twitter may be your best bet.
If you work in a visual industry or one that can reach a wider audience through visuals, then Instagram could be your platform of choice. The Next Web has produced a guide to choosing your platform for maximum impact - it really depends on how much time you can realistically dedicate to cultivating your online presence, and what audience you wish to reach.
If you have a mentor or someone in mind that you would like to emulate, then visit their profiles and see how they manage them across the platforms.
3. Identify your key influencers.
Whether you are starting with a 'blank' account or renewing an existing online identity, spend an hour a week following and connecting with people in your industry, people you want to get to know, your colleagues, and those who garner plenty of retweets or likes, for example.
Those working in your industry or managing a healthy presence of followers who regularly interact are prime candidates for influencers. It really is a 'game' of follow the leader!
4. Like for like.
Follow for follow, like for like - these are the unspoken rules of social media! If you want to expand your reach of social media posts and get them in front of the people who need to read them (future supporters, employers, allies, purchasers, customers and so on) then you will need to spend some time reviewing posts connected to your areas of interest. If Beyonce has retweeted your support for her scholarship programme, for example, then you will be sure of a huge instant engagement.
5. Choose your content.
Ask questions of your network, retweet interesting papers, comment on articles. Single out your interests and what you can make meaningful contributions to - you can position yourself as an expert with enough concise and relevant input into a topic, and become the 'go-to' for commentary on topics of the day.
Once you have an established professional network, there is very little work to self-promote as your followers and connections will do it for you.
6. Tend to it like a garden!
Social media constantly needs to be fed with new information, and if you aren't feeding it, then someone else will. To position yourself beside other leaders, your online presence relies on your engagement with your account. During working periods it's best practice to spend at least five minutes a day interacting and posting. A busy feed is a visited feed!