Following on from my previous post on managing your social media foot print, I thought it maybe beneficial to look at a selection of different social media tools used for networking, how they are used, what their audiences are and how they will portray you.
Facebook is a very ‘friendly’ platform, where as long as your settings are tight, you can display funny images, quirky comments which you use when around your close friends. They have also introduced ‘Private Groups’ which can be used for creating personal pages for just you and a select group of friends. This way, you are not showcasing your whole life on Facebook and leaving yourself open to any negative comments or mistaken reputation issues.
It is important to realise that Facebook is a showcase into your private life, so do think twice about what you display online.
Twitter is a more professional tool than Facebook, and I think this has not been understood and realised by many students. There is the temptation to use Twitter as you would your Facebook updates, but the problem with this is – Twitter is visible to EVERYONE! Therefore, finding things out about people is easy.
I believe the best way to use Twitter, especially for young professionals and PR students is to use it as a sharing information tool. Share stories in the news, comment on discussions of a professional nature, connect with potential employers and most importantly network.
Linkedin is a tool which is very similar to that of Facebook, but again more professional. I think of Linkedin as a professional Facebook page, where my main aim is to connect with those I work with or want to network with. It is a great way to see how well-connected people are in your business area and a great way to find out who works at which companies. From this, I recommend that this tool is used in a professional and career-developing way.
Another concern I want to highlight, is that a lot of students, young professionals use their Facebook pictures (images of them out on nights out), as their Linkedin profile picture. I wouldn’t recommend this, as it does require a more professional image which can portray your employability.
I think blogs are a fantastic way of showcasing your work. This is especially relevant for PR students, as they are asked to produce a PR portfolio, therefore having this online is a great way to publish yourself. Again, this is a great way to show potential employers what you are capable of doing, your past projects, what work you have been involved in and also how you write and communicate.
It is crucial that when starting a blog you decide what your blogs aims are, and how you want to show this. I read many blogs which are just career-developing, or used to showcase work, but I also I read blogs which have specific topics, are for comedy value or are serving a purpose of discussing a certain topic.
All of the above tools can be linked together to increase your SEO and your online footprint. Although, you may want to think carefully about linking Facebook to your professional tools. Facebook can be altered by other people, for example any of your friends can tag you in stupid pictures, write things on your wall and comment on anything they want. Therefore, for me, this is too uncontrolled to be seen in a professional light, as someone else could do something which damages your reputation. It may not be the fact that you have anything to hide, but for your own career development I think access to your personal life should always stay private until you know people really well! But obviously you can all judge for yourselves…
I hope this has been useful in deciding which tools are relevant and for what reasons, what to consider and what to watch out for. Any comments or questions please get in touch.