3 Steps to Social Media Success

Word cloud courtesy of Wordle.net.

Students and job seekers: Are you using social media for personal branding, engagement, career advice, and/or professional development?

Last week, I had the opportunity to host the Springfield chapter of the Social Media Club at SIFE World Headquarters (SIFE is my day job).  I recently connected with the group because of my passion for social media and my love of how it’s connecting people in ways like never before.  We held a student panel (search #SGFStudents for updates from the discussion), discussing opportunities that social media offers and the various issues associated with the topic.  I had the great honor to join Christie Love (@christielove936), Curt Gilstrap (@curtgilstrap) , and Mary Guccione (@xpertmarketer) with Angela Frizell (@oneztwolls) serving as moderator.  We had close to 30 people in attendance, which, for just the 2nd panel in the series, that number was good.  As a reference, the Springfield chapter of Social Media Club has only been up and running since August 2010.

Enough about the club and the panelists – here are 3 of the big takeaways I got from the conversation:

Find your voice; define yourself.

Social media is all about defining yourself.  What makes the most sense for you?  If you’re a job seeker, LinkedIn is where I’d start.  Make sure you have a complete profile, keep your network updated (NOTE: don’t link all your tweets – that’s annoying), participate in groups and offer your insight/expertise.  This can help you position yourself as a thought-leader if you’re good.

Ask yourself two questions:

  1. What do I want to accomplish with this social media profile?
  2. Would my current or potential employer view this profile as professional?

The internet is forever.  Tweets are being archived in the Library of Congress.  Google never forgets.  Whatever you post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, your blog, community forums, and other platforms will be forever visible.  Sure, your snarky comment about a co-worker may seem funny, even warranted at the moment, but think about the ramifications long-term.  What about those pictures you’re tagged in with the beer bong, stripper pole, or other unsavory items?  Think about this before posting.  My best advice is to simply keep it clean.  You can still have fun and connect with friends, family, coworkers, long-lost classmates and more via social media.  You just don’t have to broadcast how much you love to party.  We’re human – we know it happens.  Just keep it out of your profile.  Last comments on this: I’m friends with most of my family on Facebook, including my grandma.  Would you want Grandma to see the drunken pictures of you at the club?  I wouldn’t.  If you’re a bit more open with communication between you and Grandma, would you like to have the pictures or status update posted on a billboard?

Here’s a great article from my Twitter friend, Rich DeMatteo (@CornOnTheJob) on how to professionally position yourself on Facebook without losing your individual identity: How to Use the New Facebook Profile to Get Hired.

Pick ONE platform to start.

If you’re just getting started in social media, don’t spread yourself too thin.  It’s recommended that you find one platform to start.  Explore all the possibilities and master the platform if you can before moving on to the next greatest thing.  The big three are: Facebook (over 500 million users), Twitter (over 200 million users), and LinkedIn (over 90 million users).   It’s okay if you don’t find value in all of them.  It’s all about what makes the most sense for you.

Some quick tips on maximizing your LinkedIn experience:

  • Fill out the profile to 100%
  • Connect with colleagues, professors, industry experts (use a personal connection request, not the “I’d like to add you to my network on LinkedIn”. Reference how you heard about them, where you met, what you need help with, etc.)
  • Keep your network informed – if they don’t know you need help, they can’t help.
  • Participate in groups with thought-leadership and build influence
  • Don’t link ALL your tweets!  Use the selective feature, cross-posting only when relevant.
  • Follow companies – great for research, opportunity announcements and more!

Some quick tips on maximizing your Twitter experience:

  • It’s okay to be a spectator when you’re just getting started
  • Follow industry experts, users who provide inspiration, motivation, information, or a good laugh
  • Give more than you take – Pay it forward by retweeting 10-15x per 1 tweet of your own promotion
  • Participate in chats – two great recommendations for job seekers are:
    • #JobHuntChat – Every Monday night 9-10pm CST
    • #CareerChat – Every Tuesday 12-1pm CST
    • Add value to the conversation – it’s not just about what you had for breakfast, the “good morning” salutation, or a platform to make the weekend plans (use DM or Direct Message for private communication when the conversation becomes more personal)

Think twice, tweet once.

This links back to my first point of finding your voice and defining yourself.  There are some things that just don’t have a place in social media.  Christie Love stated that her rule of thumb is to “think twice, tweet once”.  I believe that this goes for all platforms, including email and text messaging.  Before you say it, think again.  How would someone perceive your comment?  My mother always said, “if you don’t have something nice to say, it’s best to say nothing at all.”  Smart lady.

A few past posts came to mind when writing this, so I’d like to point you to some additional resources:

What are your social media tips for students and job seekers?  Please feel free to join the conversation by adding a comment below, participating in the Facebook group, or tagging your tweets with #SGFStudents.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and help prepare the next generation of leaders!  As always, thanks for reading.

About SIFE: SIFE is an international non-profit organization that brings together the leaders of today and tomorrow to create a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business. Founded in 1975, SIFE has active programs on more than 1,500 college and university campuses in 39 countries. Through projects that improve the lives of people worldwide, the university students, academic professionals and industry leaders who participate in SIFE are demonstrating that individuals with a knowledge and passion for business can be a powerful force for change. For more information, contact SIFE World Headquarters at +1 417 831 9505 or visit http://www.sife.org.

About Social Media Club: Social Media Club’s mission is to connect media makers from around the world to advance media literacy, promote industry standards, encourage ethical behavior and share lessons they have learned. The Social Media Club motto, “If you get it, share it,” is more than just a catch phrase. For Social Media Club members, it is a way of living and gaining trust within its communities.

The Springfield, MO chapter was started in August 2010 and meets the second Wednesday of every month.  For more information about the local chapter, including details on how to join for free, please visit the website, on Twitter or on Facebook.


9 thoughts on “3 Steps to Social Media Success

  1. Thank you so much for mentioning #careerchat! I always learn so much from all of our great participants. I really appreciate your support.

    Becky B


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