Social media is arguably the most powerful communication tool on the planet.
World news, connecting with friends and family, collaborating with colleagues and generally communicating with your network(s) are all made faster, easier and more efficient using any one of the number of social networks used largely for free by over 2.5 billion people worldwide.
How can you use social media to progress your career and personal development and what are the definite pitfalls which should be avoided at all costs?
You can build a network
Building a relevant and active network of like minded contacts can open doors and provide a source of knowledge and advice.
Think quality over quantity though, it’s no use having a network of thousands if none of them provide anything beneficial.
Industry experts believe that when you meet people offline and then make a connection online, they end up being the strongest relationships, since you’re more memorable.
Remember to like appropriate posts, re-tweet and share others’ content. You can also endorse your contacts on LinkedIn for a specific skill or write a recommendation for a colleague or someone you’ve collaborated with.
You can engage with brands
Following and engaging with brands on social media is a great way to get noticed and stay up to date with their latest updates. Whether your ultimate goal is business or employment, commenting and interacting with a brand online is an effective strategy.
Brands should be fully aware of the benefits of actively engaging with their followers and those individuals that take the time to comment or share their content.
Show your passions
Share content, both created by you and curated from trustworthy sources about your industry and professional interests. Building a following increases your influence and might enable you to be heard above the social crowd by prospective employers.
You can become a source of relevant content
By consistently sharing useful and relevant content you demonstrate passion and expertise in your field. These are desirable qualities in any candidate and could set you apart from your competing applicants.
As well as social media, a personal blog enables you to take your content creation to the next level.
Writing insightful blog posts not only provides valuable information to your readers but also attracts discussion and connections.
Stay up to date with the latest industry news
As well as sharing content, by connecting with others on social media you’ll also create a stream of information from other professionals to learn from and engage with. A knowledge of the latest news from your industry is never a bad thing.
If you’re at the forefront of the latest developments in your profession then your updates and articles will be of particular interest to your peers.
Sharing interesting relevant updates and news with your colleagues via your company employee portal will help to raise your profile within the business and showcase your knowledge.
Sharing the wrong images
It seems pretty obvious to most but sharing images that don’t show us in the best light won’t help your personal brand.
A recent study conducted by Jobvite revealed that 92% of recruiters will probably look at a your social media profile if you apply for a job. With this in mind it’s a good idea to run through your social profiles and remove any images that you wouldn’t want a potential employer browsing.
It’s not just images of you that are damaging, ‘not safe for work’ (NSFW) images should also be avoided if you want nothing to worry about when others take a look at your social output.
Complaining about your current employer
Everyone needs to vent occasionally, but publicly sharing your feelings and opinions about your job and/or employer on social media can land you in hot water.
If you’re complaining openly about your current employer then why would another brand want to take the risk of you doing the same to them.
If you have a problem at work then it’s best to sort it out with your employer or colleagues rather than vent in public.
Sharing job search updates
Letting your social network know that you’ve got an interview in a few days may be of interest to some of them, but it will be of particular interest to your current employer.
Even if you’re not directly connected to your manager online, it’s all too easy for your status updates to reach or be re-shared to them by a mutual friend or colleague.
Sharing your new recruiter contacts on LinkedIn for instance is an obvious sign that you’re probably looking for employment elsewhere (unless you’re a recruiter of course!).
Keep your job search private, it’s the professional thing to do.
Using poor grammar
Using shortened text style language with your friends and family over Whatsapp is all well and good. However, using poor grammar in public will effect how you’re perceived by brands and new contacts.
“A Jobvite survey found that 66 percent of employers look negatively upon poor spelling and grammar on social media.”
Although poor grammar has no proven correlation with intelligence it is highly recommended to take the little extra time required to get your updates grammatically correct and fully written.
In 2013, Grammarly completed a study of the LinkedIn profiles of 100 native English-speakers in the consumer packaged goods industry, they found:
- Professionals with fewer grammar errors in their profiles had achieved higher positions. The profiles of those who’d failed to achieve director-level positions within the first 10 years of their careers made 2.5 times as many grammar mistakes as their director-level colleagues.
- Fewer grammar errors correlate with more promotions. Professionals with 6-9 promotions made 45% fewer grammatical errors than those who’d been promoted 1-4 times.
Good grammar shows credibility and attention to detail, very attractive qualities in any candidate or employee.
Making derogatory comments or trolling people
We all have our opinion and sometimes we want to air them, especially when connected to a topical discussion or event. Using your discretion and stating your case in an adult manner is crucial if you want to maintain your professional integrity.
Insulting people on social media, regardless of the circumstances, is a definite mistake. A derogatory comment online will be taken as an indication of how you might react in a confrontational situation within a work environment.
An employer doesn’t want to hire someone that immediately turns to personal insults whenever challenged or in disagreement with someone.
You have the potential to find your next position online and for your personal brand to win you that role. There is also the potential that your existing personal branding is what’s preventing you from being employed by your favourite brand(s).
A clean and beneficial social profile isn’t something that requires a degree in marketing, most of it is common sense and consideration while updating your profile.
Given the benefits that a great digital footprint can offer its well worth the effort required to optimise and nurture yours!