I love social media. For the last 7 years, I have expanded my public relations career to include social media marketing aimed at successfully promoting a business to a larger consumer base. I have found great success in using social media for others, but I never thought to use it as a tool to effectively market my own skills and abilities.
That was until December 14, 2015, when I decided to quit my previous job without a real backup plan. I had lined up several freelance jobs as I started navigating the changing job market. Resumes are not enough. You need to build a personal brand and the only way to effectively do so is to turn to the social media tools at your disposal. I used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr to promote my career:
The first thing I did was reach out to select friends who might be able to help me broaden my job search. I know you think LinkedIn is better for this, but you make closer friends on Facebook and if you have a professional network of friends, you should tap into them in a less formal setting. It’s just easier that way. Several friends sent me potential leads on full-time jobs; a couple offered possible freelance opportunities and a few agreed to meet for lunch or happy hour to strategize my next steps. In addition to discovering new opportunities, Facebook offered a good support system. Just as people post how many steps they walked or miles they ran every day to elicit encouraging words of support, every new post I wrote about my progress pushed me forward when I started to doubt my decisions.
Extra Tip: Clean your page. Make sure those photos of you drunk during your bro’s bachelor party are not easily viewed by Joe Public. Make sure you make it so that you have to approve whether or not you are tagged in your friends’ photos before they show up on your timeline.
I also turned to Twitter and become an expert in a variety of fields – career intelligence, social media marketing, public relations…and sports, because when you network, you should also have a hobby. I tweeted my own thoughts, tweeted items I found in other publications, retweeted items from important contacts and direct messaged those I felt could help my career. As an example of how successful I was in promoting myself - In January, with my efforts in full swing, I posted 722 tweets that garnered 111K impressions, earned 3,361 profile visits, 119 mentions and 957 new followers. I didn’t take out one advertisement. People genuinely liked what I had to say and I developed a strong following that I could use to promote my own projects or, as I do now, the services of my current employer.
Extra Tip: Go to Twitter Analytics to view how each of your tweets performs, so you can tweak your tweet strategy moving forward.
I write press releases and blogs for a living, so when I was unemployed, I turned to a site that allowed me to keep writing. If you are out of work, it is important to keep sharp and Tumblr helped me find my voice. I could create a dialogue around my interests, highlight my skills in my chose career path, and showcase my abilities to think outside the box when creating effective marketing strategies. At least one potential employer reached out to me based on how much she enjoyed my creativity when it came to writing thought-provoking, human interest pieces. Write about what you know and promote it heavily on social media.
Extra Tip: Make sure to like other Tumblr pages and posts so people know you exist. It’s hard to stand out in a crowd, so you need to shine a spotlight on yourself whenever you can.
Because this one is obvious, I saved it for last. I went to work beefing up my profile, including projects I worked on (and consulting gigs to eliminate that resume gap), solicited recommendations from former colleagues, and changed my profile photo (every time you change something on your profile, a notification is sent to your network, so the simple act of changing a profile picture can bring attention to your page). I also started writing posts that linked to professional blogs I had been writing. LinkedIn also has a lot of jobs that allow you to use your profile as the application. You don’t have to create a new cover letter; you don’t have to submit a resume and then still fill out an employment history (I hate that!). You just see a job that offers this option and apply. When you take five hours to apply for two jobs, this function makes you feel like you accomplished a little more with your job search that day. And I’ve gone on several interviews resulting from these applications, so it’s not just a gimmick – it actually works.
Extra Tip: Pay attention to who is viewing your profile. It might provide you an opportunity to connect with influential contacts outside your current network. Also, make sure you endorse the skills of people within your network. They will reciprocate in kind.
The key is to develop a strategy around how each social media platform can impact your brand. You can be social on Facebook, professional on LinkedIn, creative on Tumblr and an expert on Twitter. You can highlight a little more about yourself by creating boards to showcase your interests on Pinterest (I chose weightlifting, fashion and photography); beautiful images of your daily exploits on Instagram (people love an adventurous spirit), and your interest in food and drinks on FourSquare (I apparently eat a lot of Mexican food). Then visit www.klout.com and see your Klout score, an average of your performance on all your social media platforms to determine how influential you are. Once you get addicted to becoming more influential, you will slowly fine tune your brand, further develop your network and fully realize your potential, thus enhancing your career.
Opinions vary about the effectiveness of LinkedIn endorsements, which easliy allow LinkedIn contacts to "promote" one another with the click of a mouse. Some view them as an important piece of your online profile, showcasing your skills and talents, while others see them as virtually useless since endorsements are often suggested, are easy to make, are not personalized, and anyone with a connection can make one.
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