These days managing a social media presence is a normal part of daily life. Social and professional networking sites are great resources for content, career research, meeting new people, and staying current in your industry. Everyone is online, so it makes sense that your audience is made up of friends, colleagues, and even potential professional contacts. It’s essential to manage your social media presence in a way that complements both your personal and professional relationships.
So, how do you make sure you’re making the most out of your online presence?
Googling yourself isn’t just a joke on 30 Rock
If someone Googled you, what would they find?
I Google myself every once in awhile. It’s not because I’m a narcissist or on a vanity search kick, I am genuinely curious to see what’s out there. The truth is – if I can see it, so can everyone else. That’s the beauty of Google, it makes finding stuff just plain easy.
Nowadays, there’s a lot of personal information available online. It’s virtually impossible not to leave a cyber footprint of both your online and offline activity. We broadcast information about ourselves on the web, sometimes without even realizing we’re doing it. This is available to anyone with access to the internet: friends, colleagues, employers, even potential dates.
While everyone may have different tolerance levels for their online persona and how public each of their profiles are, it’s a good idea to Google yourself every once in awhile. That way you can evaluate the content available to the public and work to remove anything you’d rather keep private.
Understand what works on each social media channel
Not all social media networks are created equal. Every platform holds a different value for users in the social media space, and it’s important to bear that in mind as you establish your presence.
For example, Facebook is a great space to connect with friends and family. It’s more personal. I post articles, funny YouTube vidoes, and lots of pictures of my dog. It’s okay that I’m friends with many of my colleagues, that’s what they expect here. I also occasionally post interesting content about my work, but I try to keep it to a minimum.
Twitter, on the other hand, is a much better place to nurture my professional interests and connect with others who share similar ones. I can follow interesting organizations or people whose careers I admire. Here, a community exists that welcomes feedback and questions about content that’s shared. It’s a place made for conversation and differing opinions.
And then, there’s LinkedIn. This is not the place to post that sarcastic, GIF-filled Buzzfeed list about embarrassing things people born in the 90s do. This network has made a niche for being uniquely professional. So, it’s a great place for growing your contacts, engaging in discussion with like-minded professionals, and discovering job opportunities – anything strictly business.
Take stock of each profile you have and post accordingly. Just because you share something on one network, doesn’t mean it belongs on another.
Figure out who you are online
Before you tackle managing your social media presence, you need to understand how your profiles impact what colleagues, clients, and customers think about you each time you post. Even if you don’t think you have an online reputation, chances are you already have one.
Each time you share information online – you’re adding to an image that you create through every tweet, update, post, or comment that you make. This reputation can influence how people view you and what kind of judgements they make about you. So, think about who you want to be on your accounts and what fits within that persona.
- How often do you want to engage with social media?
- Do you have a message you’d like to get across?
- How would you like to be viewed? Fresh and original? Smart and sassy? Practical and consistent?
- What do you want to do on social media? Are you looking to generate opportunities? Share your news? Engage in discussions?
Managing your personal reputation online is just as important for a professional as it is for a company or product to manage their brand. How you represent yourself in your updates, even personal ones, can contribute to a perception of yourself that is beyond your control.
It may sound ridiculous to consider how you’d like to present yourself online, but it’s sound advice. Sometimes, a random tweet blowing off steam can lead to serious, real-world consequences. Adria Richards learned this lesson the hard way after she chose to publicly complain on Twitter about two men making what she considered inappropriate comments at a tech conference. One of the men she outed consequently lost his job, and she eventually was let go as a result of her decision to tweet a picture of the men she was criticizing.
Which brings me to my next point…
Positivity always serves you better than negativity
What could just be a snarky comment or joke about a bad day could come back to haunt you down the road. Written text is so easy to misunderstand as rude or whiny. Although your intention may just be to air a few grievances privately about your personal or professional life, you could be accidentally creating a personal persona you shouldn’t be proud of.
In general, keeping your posts positive is always a good idea, no matter how tempting it might be to criticize, condemn, or complain on social media. If you can’t resist, make sure your privacy settings are set up correctly, or try giving your negative a positive spin. A “Some days you just can’t win” is probably a better choice than a “I hate my life/job/the world”.
My advice would just be to think before you tweet (or post). Be polite, the social world is an extension of the real one, and while the rules might be slightly different, the general principles remain the same. Personally, I like to think about whether I’d want my mother to see what I wrote (she doesn’t do social media).
Check out this infographic about why a professional social media presence is important for students and graduates. While it’s mostly aimed at individuals who are entering the job market, it’s got some great tips about what kind of posts generate negative reactions and setting up your personal profiles to best protect your online reputation.
View the full infographic here.
Use tools and set limits to be more efficient online
One of the biggest challenges of having multiple accounts on different social networks (even for personal use) is that it can take up a lot of time if you have to log in or out of each account, and lets be honest…it just gets confusing. But managing your social media presence doesn’t need to feel like an obligation that eats up your time.
Here are a few simple strategies you can use to make it more efficient:
- Use tools to help you manage multiple accounts. Save time by using tools like Hootsuite to simplify sharing content on more than one account. Check out Tweetdeck for help with keeping up with everything that’s happening on Twitter. You can monitor your favorite lists or topics, track your mentions, and view direct messages from inside the platform.
- Link your accounts. There are pros and cons to linking social media accounts, but it’s another useful way to avoid posting twice. A word of caution when linking accounts: remember your community is different on every network and so is the content you share with each one. So, make sure you’re comfortable with what you post across accounts. I suggest using the selective tweets app on Facebook that allows you to select which tweets you want to post by adding #fb.
- Set limits for yourself and stick to them. Social media can also be a huge time waster – it’s so easy to get sucked in! Do yourself a favor and set some limits: scheduling specific times to check your networks can help you resist the urge to spend hours surfing your newsfeed. Update throughout the day, but try to get in and out quickly.