Learn about sharing content and posts with your professional network, and more importantly, what to say on social media.
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, social media has brought us individuals closer together than ever, even reuniting whole families or school classes. It’s also delivered us literally millions of hours of entertainment and knowledge at the flick of an index finger. But, it’s also a minefield for negativity and most recently ‘fake news’.
With that juxtaposition of thought, posting on social media to boost your personal profile or for your job can seem like treacherous terrain. Consider how many careers or reputations have been cannoned to the ground by a miscued tweet and the stakes are probably higher now than ever.
On that note we could reel off a huge list of things you shouldn’t do or say on social media for the sake of your professional profile. But there is a tremendous level of reward too and we trust you to have a basic awareness of what might bit inappropriate to share.
That’s what we’re going to focus on the rewards and more importantly, what you have to say to get them. Now that’s obviously a very big turkey to carve in a short blog post but this is really just to get you in the habit of engaging on social media with confidence. To help us help you, we’re going to cover three key topics; content, channels and conversations.
Whatever your role or your industry, the content you share online is important. It’s a representation of you and for most people will be their first, second and third interaction with you before they even speak to you directly – and will hopefully lead to repeated engagement thereafter.
So what are we talking about when we say ‘content’? This can be any media that can be shared online, like a picture, a video, a blog article or a podcast. Choose content that fits your professional brand (or at least the brand you’re trying to portray if you’re just getting started).
Share articles and media from credible sources related to your job and your industry, you can even create media of your own if you’re really confident!
If you’re a marketer, you could use specialist news sites like Marketing Week or Digital Marketing Magazine to source content to share. Also follow authors of your favourite marketing books online and share their content too.
Don’t worry if you’re not quite ready to create your own content, trust me there is a meteoric wealth of content online that the authors would love for you to share, try looking at your own company’s blog to start!
Many people believe LinkedIn to be the only social media channel for professionals, the reality is that all channels are being used for professional purposes nowadays. Do you think celebrities like Jamie Oliver and Joe Wicks are constantly posting Instagram stories for fun? No, it’s a business booster like any other part of their jobs – in fact if you’re not aware of Joe Wicks or his work, his success story through social media really is an incredible example, look him up!
Assuming you’re just kicking things off, it’s safe to say that Twitter and LinkedIn are front runners as most important to your professional social life. If you don’t have either of those, sign up today.
LinkedIn is self explanatory, but I also personally love Twitter because it’s quick to set up and get engaged with other users right away.
If you’re a designer or a photographer it’s essential you set up an Instagram account and even on Flickr too – most creatives I know have two Instagram accounts, one’s personal and one’s professional. On the flip side, if you’re not comfortable being on or behind a camera, then creating your own YouTube channel probably isn’t a good idea.
I do also use Facebook but that’s really a judgement call for you, if your friends and family will be interested in what you’re sharing then I say go at it!
Remember that all of these channels will require constant attention otherwise, they won’t end up working for you. So don’t spread yourself thin.
OK now for the best bit, conversation – it’s what we’re all here to do right?! Each social channel has its own ecosystem and in some cases even its own language for conversing. Don’t worry or get too bogged down in the language thing though, spend 15mins scrolling through Twitter and you’ll soon settles with the character limit and all the abbreviations, like ‘RT’ for retweet.
You’ve got to be conversing on social media to succeed at it, but strangely this is probably the bit that terrifies people the most. The first thing I’ll say is, you can forget the stress for 3 reasons; a) you have enough awareness to know what is likely to offend, b) you probably don’t have enough followers just yet to become a pariah and c) social media moves so fast, if you do screw up a post you can delete it and/or correct it probably without anybody noticing.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at a simple example. I’m a marketing manager and I want to share an article from Marketing Week about an area I’m really interested in. I focus my professional interests on Twitter and LinkedIn and sometimes Instagram, but this is a blog article so I won’t bother sharing it on Instagram for now.
The first temptation I’m going to resist is just to copy and paste the link and hit go. Sure, sharing the article shows that I’m interested in this subject or this website but not much else. Also, without my own text it won’t stand out and with no hashtags it’s got little chance of being scene by anyone outside my small existing network of followers.
So, I add my text and hashtag the topic, I also tag the guys who created it so they know I’m talking about them.
Here’s my Twitter post…
And here’s my LinkedIn (notice you can’t tag people you’re not connected to on LinkedIn)…
And that’s pretty much the basis of any professional posting; share something and say why you’re sharing it. I’ll use the same formula for sharing company content too, it’s not corny or salesy to show an interest in my company so long as I am actually interested in it.
You can also mix it up, I like to pull out my favourite quote or statistic from the article and use that as my text. It really helps people decide whether they want to engage with the content and also builds a picture of me. After enough posts similar to this people might start to think “this guy is clearly passionate and really knows his stuff about leadership”.
Everything else beyond this simple principle can be learned from spending a few minutes a day scrolling through and watching how others engage on a particular channel, then dip a toe in that pool yourself. You can’t be an expert overnight or by reading one blog article (although this one will definitely get you started).
Next, when people comment, like or re-share your post, give them thanks the same way you would if it was someone in your office saying what a great email you just sent them. Lastly, if anyone ever does come at you with negativity just don’t respond. Some people out there just have too much time on their hands.
It seems a little clumsy and awkward at first but put it this way, every single influencer you follow online who might have over a million subscribers started on zero and it all began when they shared their first post. So, ready to get your professional social channels flowing?