Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about social media. “I don’t do all that stuff” he said, “I just have a Facebook and that is almost too much for me.” Though my friend was accepting of this venue of communication, he seemed to be unaware of the advantage of developing a virtual identity or personal brand. Therefore, I have decided to explain the importance of social media and demonstrate how Facebook can enhance your employability. For frequent readers of the Voinovich School blog, this it part three of our social media series. To view the previous entries, see the respective pages of Annie White and Amanda Janice.
Though many do not want to believe it, social media is here to stay. With over 800 million active users, Facebook has grown to become more than just a simple meeting place for college students and twenty somethings. Instead, Facebook has become a marketplace of information and ideas. Here, friends can share content, communicate, and explore developing trends. Though Facebook was launched in 2004, it has quickly become the gold standard in web-based communication. This is an impressive feat considering the site was developed by a Harvard drop out.
According to digitalbuzzblog.com, the average Facebook user has 130 friends and “likes” 80 pages. Further, each week more than 3.5 million pieces of content are shared. At the onset of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg (that Harvard drop out) sought to make the world a more connected place. Judging by the rapid expansion of the site, it is clear that his dream is becoming reality.
So, what does this mean for young professionals looking to win their first job out of college? First, social media is unavoidable. As more users log on, more companies will focus their efforts on social media marketing. Therefore, the best place to look for jobs or be noticed is within this virtual realm. Second, social media applications provide a digital storage place for connections and acquaintances. Remember that person you met at the conference in Phoenix? Well, they just announced a job opening on their status. Third, social media is the only way to build a personal brand.
As a young professional seeking future employment, I have developed some tips and recommendations for building a personal brand through Facebook. Though this list is not exhaustive, I believe each point will offer some guidance and clarity for new user and existing Facebook users.
- Know Your Audience: This is an important consideration for any social media application. Closely monitor the content you are sending to the masses and ask yourself if potential employers would want to read or see what you have released. Keep in mind, the timeline feature of Facebook is able to track everything you “like” or comment on.
- Update Your Status: Once you have determined your audience, begin updating your status on a regular basis. This will push your content into the news feeds of others and will allow you to express your virtual identity though conversation. Though Annie White discourages connecting a Twitter account to Facebook, I encourage this. The more you post on Twitter, the more it will appear on Facebook, thus pushing your identity across the internet over two different applications. To become fully connected, link your twitter account to LinkedIn. Constantly updating your accounts with relevant content and status updates will keep connections aware of your presence within the digital realm.
- Build a Complete Profile: This means updating your degrees, work experience, and other basic information. Your Facebook profile should be a reflection of your professional self and therefore information on your resume should be consistent with information on your account. You should also link to other social media applications in your “about me” section to encourage connections too follow you on Twitter and LinkedIn. The goal: Build your Internet presence.
- Join Professional Groups: By joining professional associations, you will have access to the latest news and information. This can be a great way to connect with other professionals and gain recognition within your intended career field. Consider linking notes and status updates with your groups, as this will increase traffic to your profile.
- Be Uniform: The world is becoming a more connected place. Therefore, it makes no sense to keep your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook pages separate. Information should be the same on each site including your profile picture. Building a personal brand is hard, but if you can present consistent information across the social media spectrum, you will be able to monitor your sites more easily.
- Create a Domain Name: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow you to tack a personal name at the end of your url. This name should be the cornerstone of your virtual identity. Typically, your full name works the best, but if that is unavailable try to choose something representative of your career and personality. If an interviewer Googles your name, this can help narrow down the search results.
As we continually push the boundaries of virtual interaction, the best place to be is at the front of this race. By investing time now to start accounts and learn the lingo, you will be better prepared for future advancements in social media. Though my friend may never fully embrace this emerging venue of communication, I am confidant that he will understand the value of creating a personal brand. If you are still having doubts, think about this question: If an interviewer searches your name in Google, what will they see?