Tips to Conquer the Professional Side of Social Media

Tips to Conquer the Professional Side of Social Media

By: Alex Lowe | Volunteer Services Assistant
  5409 reads

Our generation is continuously connected to each other, so it comes to no surprise that we are all self-professed experts, in some way, shape or form, with social media. We know how to use YouTube, we have personal Facebook profiles, and we can hashtag just about anything. So why are we all so scared to use social media in a professional way?

When I started seeking for my first co-op work term I was hesitant to include the social media tools I was familiar with on my resume. It just seemed like common knowledge. And when I got my first work term, I was terrified to start using social media as something I was being paid for. My first few Tweets sounded stiff and awkward, usually ending in periods or with very vague or mundane instructions. Such as “Learn about volunteering by visiting out website sfu.ca/volunteer.” My Facebook posts weren’t much better. They were long-winded, passive-aggressive, third-person statements and usually lacked any images or links to other websites, articles, or resources. I knew they were boring, but I knew I couldn’t post things like I do on my personal accounts. So what was I to do?

My social media revelation wasn’t until I had a meeting with one of my colleagues, who is an exceptionally fantastic blogger and social media maniac. He told me to have fun with it and be a bit risqué, obviously not to the point posting offensive content, but enough to capture the audience’s attention. My favourite piece of advice: “use mom-swears, like ‘shut the front door!’” After I had practiced this new and fun way of using social media in the work place it finally clicked; this is an area that I am experienced in. I started writing posts that sounded natural and were creative. Rather than tweeting about events saying “Not-for-profit sector panel happening Feb 6, check website for details,” I used hashtags, mentioned followers, and used bold punctuation, such as: “Check out @FrontierCollege’s Fabulous Briony! She’ll be at our panel feb 6! Get the full scoop at sfu.ca/volunteer/WNPP.

I found the subject of my tweets and posts allowed me retain a professional demeanor, while my personal voice gave it a creative flare. If you are finding it hard to engage readers with your words, try images. Silly, yet appropriate, memes to associate with events or articles, or hilarious and semi-relevant Youtube videos (like Kid President’s Pep Talk!) helped me keep my posts fun. And when in doubt, use a cute animal picture (@CuteEmergency can help); it works every time! The more multimedia content on your feeds, the better! Also check out what other people are doing. Follow organizations similar to yours and retweet or share photos, links, and videos.

So how does this all help you, an aspiring student ready to enter the workforce? My tip for using social media professionally is more concerned with sounding too conservative rather than too risqué. Most of us know about where the “offensive content” line is drawn, so be sure to keep your use of social media behind that line. But don’t be afraid to have fun with it. The ability to communicate your ideas in a creative and inviting way is what professionals are looking for in social media skills. When applying to your next job, don’t be afraid to include your relevant social media tools. When you get your next opportunity to let your professional persona shine, go for it!

Want to see what I post and Tweet? Follow Volunteer Services on Facebook (www.facebook.com/sfu.volunteer) and on Twitter (@SFU_Volunteer)

Other Articles I found helpful: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225609

http://mashable.com/2012/03/19/c-suite-social-media-tips/

http://mashable.com/2010/11/17/business-leaders-social-media/

http://smbp.uwaterloo.ca/

Posted on February 21, 2013