How to Handbook: Six social media tips for your career
Social media is the platform through which you promote your personal brand, intentionally or otherwise.
Your online presence is likely to have a significant impact on how peers, employers and potential clients or investors will perceive you.
Here are a few top tips for presenting the best version of yourself across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and beyond.
1. Share your experience
A LinkedIn profile should not be the only social media outlet you use in a professional capacity. Twitter, Facebook and blogging platforms like WordPress all offer an opportunity for you to sell yourself.
Fill up your summaries and bios with a brief overview of your job title, skills and experience. For example: "Jane Doe CA, a senior audit specialist at a Big Four accounting firm."
This will help you appear polished and professional across your whole online presence.
2. Make connections
Groups and forums exist to bring like-minded people together and can be a great networking tool. Take advantage of the online communities available to you by joining appropriate company pages, discussion boards and events.
These platforms can be a great resource for building your professional reputation both within and outside your own company. Posting and commenting will allow you to advertise your expertise and skill set, while also providing an opportunity to learn from your peers.
You may also find yourself privy to exclusive job listings and upcoming developments.
3. Find the big names
Identify the key players in your industry or sector and make sure you never miss a post from them. Rather than just following or liking their pages, set up push notifications using your account settings or Google Alerts.
If you are unsure of who to follow, use your sector, industry or job title as a search term on a social media site and the top results will be the best performing. Tools like Buzzsumo can also help you pick out the best.
That way, you can start a conversation by replying to tweets and posts with your comments and perspective. Just ensure whatever you write is factually and grammatically correct. Even if the original poster doesn't reply, chances are others in that network will see your input and respond.
Anyone looking at your profile will see that you are informed and engaged with important topics.
4. Google yourself
If you find it easy to track down information about yourself by plugging your name into a search engine, consider who else may see the resulting links to your Facebook page or online dating profile.
Get rid of any prominent results that make you seem unprofessional or would send up a red flag to potential investors, clients or employers. This might mean deleting a particularly controversial post, untagging yourself in a friend's photo or erasing that MySpace profile that has been lingering online since your teenage years.
Privacy and security settings can be easily altered to limit your audience on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and most other sites. Making a few changes can ensure that only the people you know and have allowed access to will be able to see your content. Google also allows you to request the removal of information.
The downside, of course, is that you limit the impact of these platforms as part of your professional persona.
5. Use keywords
Improve the search engine optimisation (SEO) of your professional profiles by loading up on keywords, updating regularly and frequently using relevant links.
Posts about a professional subject should include as many sector common terms as possible so search engines can pick up on it. When using hyperlinks, title them with the destination so that someone looking for that site may find yours as well. LinkedIn also allows you to customise your URL so try your name and job title, rather than just random numbers.
If you are going one step further and building your own website, Google offers a guide to SEO integration.
6. Avoid controversy
It may be clichéd, but the best thing you can do to remain professional on social media is avoid any sort of negativity. That means no complaining about your boss, getting involved in arguments among friends or even writing anything politically provocative.
This extends to anything that may appear on your profile, whether or not it originates with you. Keep a close eye on the content shared by friends that may be in conflict with the image you wish to present of yourself. Remember that inappropriate comments, photos and links can be seen by others.
Hold true to the principle of not posting anything online that you wouldn't be comfortable saying to a coworker in person.