Is your social media approach helping or hurting your career? - Michelle Gibbings

Is your social media approach helping or hurting your career?

As adults, we can be quick to advise children and teenagers to be careful about what they post on social media, but are we applying the same standard to our actions?

There are plenty of examples where a person’s social media post has thrown them off track, come back to haunt them and derailed their career. An ill-timed comment, a thoughtless response, an opinion that you may change, or an action you may later regret can’t be easily erased in a digital era.

And yet, there are plenty of upsides to social media for your career when used wisely.

We assess rapidly
In a face-to-face context, when we meet someone for the first time, we quickly assess whether we like them, trust them, want to work with them or want to do business with them.

Research highlights we have somewhere between 7 to 15 seconds to make a first impression face-to-face. This is based on what is known as ‘thin slicing’. Professor Frank Bernieri of Oregon State University has found we assess people relatively quickly, without much data. This assessment is made on a raft of factors. It might be a glance, their handshake, what they wear, their demeanour, whether they maintain eye contact and how they smile.

Our quickness to assess and judge holds in a digital world. A statement, a comment or liking an article, which only takes a few seconds, attaches to your reputation. While that action may not represent your whole perspective on an issue, it will shape how people see you, your character and your reputation.

One you, one brand
Tom Peters said, “All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You”.

There is no separation between a personal brand and your professional brand in a digital world. What you post in your personal life on your private Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter account impacts how you are seen professionally.

Your reputation is one of your most essential career assets. So, just as you invest in building up your educational qualifications and your leadership skills, pay attention to how you develop and maintain a social media profile that enhances your career.

This starts with being clear on what you stand for.

Know what you stand for
You want your social media commentary to reflect your values and what’s important to you.

When you post or comment, ask yourself:

  • Does this represent me when I am at my best?
  • Will I be proud to stand by this comment now and in the future?
  • Will this action enhance or detract from my reputation?

Elevate visibility
In a rapidly changing working world, you want to be the leader of your career – managing your career progress and market position and ready to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. To do this, you need not just to be known but to be known for something. This is hard to do if you are invisible online. You want to be more than just visible. You want to stand out from the crowd.

There are three core parts to this approach:

  1. Build the foundation – get the basics in place for your social platform of choice. This includes the set-up, establishing your profile and working out how to best leverage the tool.
  2. Design your position – in this phase, you go beyond the basics, starting to examine and implement the activities you need so your profile online has presence, resonance and relevance. This is about making social work for you.
  3. Rock your presence – It’s a deliberate strategy of the 5C’s where you connect, create, are consistent, check and control.

Make it work for you
When you design your position you take the time to make social media work for you. Here are five tips to consider.

  • Fit for purpose – Select the content you share to suit the platform’s purpose. For example, what you share on LinkedIn will differ from what you share on Instagram or TikTok.
  • Think long-term – It’s easy to upload but not so easy to erase. Think long-term when sharing socially and be cautious about what you post, when and what you say about others online.
  • Select your audience – Be clear on can see your content by regularly checking your privacy settings. Just as you control what you post, be deliberate about who you want to see your posts.
  • Be professional – While being beige and bland doesn’t cut it on social media, you also want to remain authentically you and professional. So, balance your desire for impact with a professionally curated approach.

Put the 5C’s to use
Putting the 5C’s to work helps you stand out from the crowd. It has five core elements, which operate in unison with each other. What this means is that you don’t want to apply just one strategy, you need all five.

  • Connecting – Connect and build relationships to expand your reach. Be deliberate about who you connect with and judicious about the invitations you accept. You want relationships that have meaning. This isn’t just a numbers game.
  • Creating – Create and be active online. Have a regular program and approach, which involves updating your status, sharing relevant and helpful content or commenting on someone else’s content. You want to be on social regularly and in a meaningful way.
  • Consistency – Ensure that what you post and how you post align with your values and desired market positioning. This includes being consistent in your language, tone of voice, what type of content you share and how you come across.
  • Checking – Regularly review your profile and refresh your approach so that your approach is relevant and your content is current.
  • Controlling – Platforms regularly change how they work and the features you can access. Sometimes these changes are helpful and not so beneficial. It’s essential to stay across trends, particularly privacy and security changes.

Social media can accelerate and enhance your career when you use it wisely. Take the time to consider how you best use your platforms of choice in a way that suits you and your career objectives.

Getting you ready for tomorrow, today®

Michelle Gibbings is bringing back the happy to workplace culture. The award-winning author of three books, and a global keynote speaker, she’s on a mission to help leaders, teams and organisations create successful workplaces – where people thrive and progress is accelerated.

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