I often chuckle when people ask the questions: “Is social media that big of a deal?” or “Can social media really boost my career?” My answer is always in the affirmative. This isn’t just because I think so, but because I’ve seen it play out countless times for numerous people.
In our world today, social media wields an immense power over our personal and professional lives. A survey of 505 employers in the U.S. corroborates this fact. 98% of these employers confessed to doing background research on job applicants before offering them employment, and 90% of them stated that the status of the social media account of an applicant is considered a major factor in making hiring decisions.
Taking a cue from this, social media can have a positive or negative effect on your job opportunities, depending on how you use it. It can turn out to be integral to the success of your career if used well or spell disaster if misused. So, the determinant of your success with social media is your usage of the platform.
Here are a few tips to help you start your career by leveraging the power of social media:
1. Find the right social media for you
Your success with social media is more a question of maximizing your output with a focus on the things that matter than of ticking off all the social media platforms. To use social media successfully, you do not have to start out on every platform available. To start, choose two platforms that seem like a good fit for your career and start building influence there. Of course, the question then becomes “how do you know which is right for you?”
To discover the “right ones”, there is only one thing to do: ask yourself where your potential employers or audience are likely to be and position yourself there.
For instance, if you are an artist, you need a social media platform that is highly visual so that your work can be presented in the best possible light and it’s likely that a majority of your clients will spend their time on this type of platform.
2. Develop your brand
Now that you are on the right platform, give yourself a chance to be heard by branding your career. Creating a personal brand is not difficult; you may even have one already without knowing it! Your brand should reflect your past projects, values, logo, and pretty much everything that will make you stand out.
Your brand speaks for you. It is the marketing aspect of your online presence, and as such, it needs to be top-notch.
3. Connect with people
When it comes to starting a career, the number of people you connect with matters. Now is not the time to be a lone-warrior. In social media, the number of followers you have is important, but not as important as the number of engagements and interactions you have. Make friends, and more importantly, engage with them.
Remember, it’s not about meeting just anyone— it’s about meeting the right people. Connect with the more experienced people in your field. You will not only gain invaluable tips, but you will also open yourself up to more opportunities.
4. Be professional
Understand the reason why you are setting this social media account up and stick to it. Do not get caught up with distractions. Stick strictly to professionalism. Ensure that your accounts have a professional tone. Yes, it might be a lot of work, but it will be worth it eventually.
Be very careful of the kind of content you post. Limit your rants, especially on controversial topics. Keep your life as private as possible. And if it’s easier, you can always create another professional account solely for your career.
5. Be on the look-out for opportunities
Don’t just sit around and wait for opportunities to fall into your lap. You should get proactive about seeking out new opportunities. No matter how small, view each job you are given as a chance to build and refine your work portfolio. But while you are doing so, it’s important that you don’t lose focus on your primary goal.
6. Link to your professional sites
You need a professional site, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a website. You can use your LinkedIn page, a portfolio site, or a blog, or just any site that displays your professional accomplishments and expertise.
Once you have your professional site, link to it from your social media page and vice versa. This increases your reach and makes it easier for people to access you. Add your link to an easily noticeable spot on your site like in your bio. To improve your professionalism, you could even create a QR Code for your business, which can help people view your account with a higher level of trust.
7. Protect your privacy
Always remember that there’s no privacy on social media. You do not want to post private information that may put you at risk, both financially and in terms of your personal safety. Never post private information like your account details, passwords, or even your personal address.
Aside from risking your safety, you will also send up red flags for potential employers if you can’t keep very private information secure. No employer wants an employee they can’t trust with sensitive information.
Best social media sites to start your career
Since the aim is to build your professional brand, a LinkedIn account is very important when building a professional personal brand on social media. It is the most professional of all the social media sites, with over 690 million users, according to Omnicore.
The upside of Twitter is that it makes it easy to connect with people, as it has a free-flowing communication system. Use keywords to find recruiters in your industry, and hashtags to help them find you easily.
If you are working in a highly visual or creative industry, like art, design, fashion, photography or food, having an Instagram account is sacrosanct. This image-based platform is the perfect way to display your visual work.
YouTube is entirely video-driven, so for brands that rely heavily on videos to demonstrate their effectiveness, it makes sense to stage your brand on YouTube. Musicians, actors, trainers, teachers, and a long list of other people will find YouTube is the perfect complement to their skills.