Back into 2007, I started to get active on social media. This was more of a professional conscious move than a personal one. At that time, I was ending a position as a VP of Product Marketing at a technology company and planning my next professional pivot.
Coincidently, social networks such as MySpace (remember them), Facebook, and Twitter were emerging from early adopter stages. I had a revelation that marketing was going to dramatically change. Brands could no longer own their brand image. Yes, they could still find ways to control it, but not outright own it. The democratize public would now have more control over the validity of what a brand marketed and on the brand’s reputation. Any brand could throw positive superlatives as their slogans, but if people called foul, the voices of the audience they marketed to could make or break their success.
Thinking about social media in a professional context rather than a personal one first has had its benefits. I was not a teenager when social media became the communication platform it is today. You won’t find posts of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll (metaphorically or literally) from me on Facebook or elsewhere that I regret. But we all know the potential harms of that. So let’s discuss the use of social media for a more mature audience.
Social media is your personal marketing tool. It is your opportunity to introduce and reinforce what you are all about – your experiences, subject-matter expertise, leadership style, and persona.
Let’s start out with one overarching rule – determine which social networks you use for personal and professional purposes. For example, I use Facebook for only personal stuff and LinkedIn and Twitter for professional posts. I am a voyeur on Instagram and really do not post there. With regards to Facebook and who I connect with, I have a litmus test – do I want you to see me in a bathing suit on the beach or not. That test eliminates people I work with. Yes, you can make a second Facebook account for professional use. (They don’t like that, but I have.)
Now think about where and how you should post on social networks such that it helps your professional career. The first question I would ask you is what is your value proposition as a professional. Yes, this is very much like a brand value proposition, but rather a statement about the value you bring to an organization. What are you a subject-matter expert of? Understand what that is and how it changes over time. I am not suggesting you ever post your value proposition, but EVERYTHING you post in a professional social media environment should reinforce your value proposition. If you are a welder, you should post articles about that profession, suggest tips on processes, show pictures of yourself in that setting. It does not matter what your profession is. And your postings should be both original and curated content.
I do believe that social postings for a professional are a lifetime commitment. Not just something you do when you are looking for something in return like sales or a job. You need your portfolio of content out there all the time. Then few things can happen: 1) people come to you for help or advice, 2) people follow you because you offer value to them, and 3) a great opportunity arises that you never even expected to happen. All of these payoffs happen serendipitously. But there is at least one other positive outcome, and that is when you are looking for a new job, you have already opened your network and following, and reinforced the value you bring to an organization.
Do not underestimate the power of your professional brand and some of the “marketing” processes you should apply to your own brand.
Make It Happen,