Monday, 3 December 2012

Using Social Media to your Advantage.

One thing that has always (and by always, I mean the past few years) interested me is the power of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and blogging. The power of social media can be a good thing, even a great thing, but it also has a dark side. Yes, posting those hilarious photos from your drunken escapades last weekend can be great to laugh at with your friends, but what happens when a potential employer searches your name and those same now-not-so-hilarious photos appear at the top of the Google search? What you need to think is "would I like my boss to see/read this?", and I know you may be a student and employment seem such a long, long way away, but anything that you post on the internet is there forever.

So how can you use social media to your advantage? How can you show your potential employers that you're not only a social media whiz but that you can use your skills in a work environment? Here's my top 5 ways to use social media in a positive way:

  1. Make a Linked In profile - "But Linked In is only for professionals, I'm just a student". That's not true, more and more students are joining Linked In in order to create an online CV , to make connections in the area of work they wish to pursue and even to job hunt! 
  2. Follow your potential employers on Twitter - These days, most companies use Twitter. Follow them, if only to find out a little more about the business. However often, especially in Marketing/Advertising/PR, companies will advertise jobs or work experience opportunities on Twitter first, keeping you ahead of the game.
  3. Network, network, network - So you're following you dream employer on Twitter, now what?  Tweet them! Reply to something that they've tweeted or simply tell them why you like their company. So you've connected with a friend of a friend on Linked In who is in your dream job - message them, tell them why you wanted to connect with them! Chances are that they'll be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have.
  4. Customise your Facebook privacy settings - As I mentioned above, would you really want a potential employer to see a picture of you rolling in the gutter? The answer is no, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't post it! Just make sure that your privacy settings mean that only your friends can see your updates. 
  5. Advertise yourself - Whether it's your Linked In headline or your Twitter bio, make it known what kind of work you want to get into or what you want to get out of using social media. For example, my Linked In headline is "Language, Literacy & Communication student at University of Manchester aspiring to pursue a career in Digital Marketing". It says what I'm doing now and what I'm looking to do in the future, not saying that I love going out with my friends and getting absolutely sloshed.

So there you have it, my top 5 tips on how to use social media in an opportunistic way. Of course there are many other ways to go about using social media, but for a student looking to enhance their online presence, these are the tricks that I've learnt and appear to be beginning to work. Building up a strong online presence doesn't happen over night so it's no good throwing together a Linked In profile the night before an interview, so get started as soon as you can!

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