Not on social media platforms? Think again!
You or the content you’ve created may be on social media networks without you even knowing it. Here are a few examples where you’re popping up on the social media landscape.
- Are you in photos with family, friends and/or colleagues? If so, they may appear on Facebook, Flickr or Twitter.
- Have you dined with others or run into friends at your favorite watering hole? If so, unknowingly, you may have been included in their Foursquare updates.
- Do you write for any online or offline media entity? If so, your content may be shared on a wide variety of social media sites including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others.
- Have you presented at a conference or been part of an event’s panel? If so, you’re probably including in someone’s tweets, live blogging, video or other form of content sharing.
- Does your firm have a presence on LinkedIn? If so, your bio may already be posted.
What does this mean for your career?
It indicates that you must take control of your own social media footprint. You can’t just sit on the social media sidelines thinking that it’s “for kids.” You can’t rely on your experience and success to-date to help you. What matters in today’s social media connected world is the number of friends on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn and /or followers on Twitter. It also matters what these “friends” think they know about you.
To that end, here are seven steps to help you build your social media presence to effectively represent your marketing experience and prowess.
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- Give your perspective a facelift. To develop an effective social media marketing presence, requires accepting that social media has become an integral part of how we communicate and share information. Not participating means that you’re missing a large part of the conversation. For a brand this can translate to being blindsided by consumer discussions that you don’t know are happening as has been discovered by companies like United and Comcast. In the same vein, it can have a similar impact on your personal brand and career.
- Do your research. Just as you would practice for a job interview, spend time lurking on the sidelines to get a feel for how people communicate and share on social media networks and the type of language they use. (For a starting point, here’s a list of social media marketing resources and here’s a primer to help you translate Twitter-speak).
- Check the grapevine. In business, as in your personal life, you need to know what people are saying about you. Two easy, low cost ways to accomplish this are Google searches and alerts. This may not work as well if you’ve got a common name. For example, I’m not the only Heidi Cohen. While I share my name with a rabbi in California, an actress in Atlanta and a doctor in Boca Raton, my marketing content listings dominate the first page of search engine responses for “Heidi Cohen”. (Of course, it helps that I’ve been writing for ClickZ, an online e-zine for 6 ½ years.) If you find negative comments about you when searching the listings, you may want to enlist the help of reputation management specialists.
- Put your best foot forward. The online equivalent of the new interview suit is your social media presence on various social media platforms. To this end, think about how you want to position yourself just as you would when marketing any other product. Unlike the old fashioned resume, career-oriented social media tends to be forward looking. Among the factors to consider are your photograph or avatar, your business title. (Note: This doesn’t have to be the same one that’s on your business card), and the keywords you want associated with your profile. While you have freedom in creating your social media self, don’t lie or exaggerate the truth because the collective public will find out, with other site participants spreading the negative word, potentially tarnishing your social currency.
- Practice your talking points. Regardless of the size of your rolodex, in social media everyone starts at the same point. To become the belle of the social media ball, it’s important to build your friends and followers. Begin with people you know well and invite them to join you online. Think about how you want to use each platform since this will define with whom you want to connect with and why.
- Be generous with your praise. One way to build your presence is to help former colleagues and staff. Where appropriate, give them recommendations on LinkedIn without being asked. Pay it forward without worrying about whether they will reciprocate.
- Work the crowd. Get out and meet people in real life. While social media enables you to stay sequestered behind your computer, it’s critical to get out and meet people in real life. This way you can strengthen relationships with people you got acquainted with by participating in social media. Go to events, Meetups and conferences as well as coffee with people that you’ve connected with online. Remember relationships tend to grow stronger when you meet someone in person.
While some of these recommendations may seem scary at first, this is understandable. Remember that they require a change in perspective and deeply ingrained habits. Take small steps at first until you get the social media basics down. It’s important for your career to not only connect with networking prospects but also to improve your marketing and be current in your field.
If you have any suggestions and/or questions, please add them in the comments section below to help share the information broadly.
Author: Heidi Cohen
*This post originally appeared on the MENG blog and has been reposted with permission.