While on holiday in Greece last week I read a Tweet which said; “social media used to be an escape from reality, reality is now an escape from social media”. Over a week later, these words have really stuck with me – because they’re so true.
Social media used to be fun! Remember those days where you’d post your name on a Frappuccino or a cute blurry photo of your aunt’s new kitten? That’s the stuff of BeReal and WhatsApp family group chats now. Social media is serious. It’s business. It’s branding.
To put it into perspective, the Department of Homeland Security is now collecting social media profiles of potential immigrants as part of its evaluation process. Crazy.
What makes it tricky is that it’s impossible to separate the personal use of social from the professional, and everything you say online can and will be used against you. There are ways in which you can try to safeguard your privacy and control who sees particular content, but the onus is on you to be vigilant. So, the more seriously you can take your social media activities, the better.
Let’s unpack each platform and look at the most beneficial ways of using them.
LinkedIn offers a variety of ways to expand your network by finding and connecting with relevant professionals in your industry. The key is to find, approach and connect with folks you already know, folks you’d like to know and folks you should know. You should also post your own content, showing off your expertise on a regular basis.
LinkedIn is also great for testimonials. Learn to use the recommendation feature to give and receive recommendations for people you have worked with in the past. You should give recommendations only to people whose work you are willing to vouch for.
While most people use this platform to find jobs, don’t underestimate its power to grow your business. Depending on your business, LinkedIn offers a variety of ways to deploy it for companies — from recruiting to generating sales leads. As with the other platforms, you should see if LinkedIn advertising features make sense for you.
Twitter can be more conversational than other platforms, but be sure to understand the difference between your retweets, replies and your DMs (direct messages). Retweets (RTs) are ways for you to share, and optionally comment on, others’ posts. Choosing “quote tweet” means you add a comment above someone’s post; just hitting “retweet” means it gets sent to your followers without any commentary from you. You should quote tweet whenever you can, so people understand why you are sharing something.
Twitter is also the thriving platform for all things Web3 and NFT and the community on there is still relatively tight knit. Twitter’s live video tool lets you share video and interact with those posting videos that matter to you. Twitter Polls, which lets you provide users with up to four answers to choose between and see the results in real-time, can be another way to engage with, and expand, your network. You’ll often see businesses running polls about specific products to gauge reactions from customers and potential customers.
Equally, Twitter can helps brands grow their business. Smart, relevant, timely posts can help you raise your company’s profile, especially when you use hashtags in a professional manner. Participating in popular hashtags when they are relevant to you works well. As does occasionally using hashtags around your products or services. The key: Keep hashtags simple, clear and unique, so that your hashtags aren’t hijacked by some other brand with something similar.
Great for networking, Instagram’s ability to act like a digital portfolio means its a great place to position your brand.
Instagram’s ad features are fantastic for spreading awareness. Features like Instagram Stories, which allow you to tell, well, a story, using multiple photos and videos, are ways to use Instagram in a business environment. These stories last for 24 hours, which means the time frame should be something you have to factor into your decision to make them. Most of the time, you are better off creating visuals and graphics you can use on multiple platforms that will also have a longer shelf life.
For visual brands in particular, Instagram sets the tone and now the Reel feature expands potential reach on the app. This can expand networking and audience growth.
The younger sibling of the social media world, many brands are still navigating how to use this app. It isn’t as beneficial for finding jobs and networking but in regards to expanding your audience it can be golden.
Finding a niche and being consistent with it is key here. Paid pushes can also help.