In 10 short years, social media has risen from being a minor diversion into an essential part of our lives. Almost everybody and their mother has a minimum of one social media account, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. While most of us mere mortals view social media simply as a platform for messaging friends, sharing photos and telling stories, social media is actually a very complex and powerful tool if used in the right way. Small changes in perspective and the way that you use your social media channels could elevate your profile, open doors to new connections, opportunities, job prospects and more!
Elevate Your Image
Creating a new social media account is like being given a clean slate. Before social media was 'a thing', the only way to keep up with the lives of other people was to interact with them directly. Limited opportunities to spend time with an individual meant that their established impressions of you were difficult to change over time.
Social media stirred things up by giving us the ability to share life events, both major and mundane with our social networks anytime, anywhere. But even more potent was the ability to control and curate what you wanted to share with the world. Social media became a tool with which we could effectively reinvent ourselves. Our carefully and consciously curated posts influence the way our friends and acquaintances perceive us. This controlled exposure aspect of social media is extremely powerful when it comes to defining your identity or rather, how you want others to define you.
Assume that employers will search for you on social media. Decide what you want kind of an impression you want them to have when they dig into your account.
Showcase Your Profile
Aside from establishing an identity, you can also use your social media to reinforce what people know about you in order to attract opportunities.
For example, imagine you are looking for a job as a veterinary assistant. If the first thing your friends see when they open their social media is updates about you volunteering at the local animal shelter, the belief that you're an animal lover and aspiring veterinarian will become reinforced in their memory. If and when they stumble upon a veterinary assistant job opening, they aren't just more likely to think of you, but they'll tell you about the opportunity, or even better, make a referral! Similarly, if an employer is looking for just such an assistant and comes across your profile, you may be recruited for an interview!
Expand Your Network
Social media platforms can be viewed as enormous 24/7/365 networking sessions. Where else would you get the chance to check out an individual’s profile without ever physically laying eyes on them? It’s the perfect place to make connections that could help you achieve your goals.
The key to successfully building a networking using your social media is to be proactive and take initiative. Similar to an actual networking event, you won’t get much out of it if you're passive or wait for people to approach you. For example, if you are looking for a job at Microsoft, why not connect with a few people who are currently working at Microsoft and ask if they'll have a coffee with you and share their experience working there? The worst that could happen is you don't get a response.
Become an Influencer
If you really put in time and effort into developing a social media following, it could mature into a very valuable asset of yours and could grant you a competitive advantage. If you have a large audience or a big follower base checking out your profile regularly, you have the potential to become an influencer.
What is an influencer? Influencer marketing is a newly emerging type of marketing that inspires or hires individuals with large audiences to promote a brand, product, or service. Traditionally, these influencers were celebrities, models, singers, artists, etc. But real people like you that have amassed a large following purely through sharing something they're passion and love for, i.e. food, fashion, travelling, parenting, etc., are increasingly recognized as influencers!
Being an influencer can take a lot of time and hard work. Just like bands have to constantly record new songs to stay relevant, influencers need to continuously push out content that is valuable to their audiences in order to keep your influencer status. But if you do manage to get there, great work! Hopefully your personal brand will open up more options down the road and help you tap into hidden opportunities!