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Social Media Basics – Your Personal Professional Accounts

In our recent blog, we discussed the basics of starting your organisation’s social media presence. In this article we will begin to cover your personal professional accounts, initially focusing on LinkedIn.

An increasing number of organisations are encouraging members of their teams to have individual social media accounts that are primarily used in a professional capacity. These accounts serve to raise the profile of key members of the organisation and place them as commentators and experts within their field as they become actively involved in industry discussion.

For those not already actively involved in social media in a personal capacity, the prospect of doing so in a professional one can be rather daunting. You are essentially being asked to represent your organisation in a public forum, demonstrating knowledge and expertise, all the while avoiding the pitfalls that come with the world of social media.

Fear no more, help is at hand!

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the logical place to begin when it comes to bolstering your professional social media presence.

A LinkedIn profile primarily serves as an online CV or resume but it can also be a highly effective platform outside the realm of recruitment/job searching. LinkedIn can serve as a tool to showcase the skills and expertise of an organisation’s employees and therefore act as a multi-layered advertisement to potential clients, candidates, customers and partners. An increasing number of organisations are strongly encouraging their staff to set up LinkedIn profiles and looking to promote a consistent style and message throughout. A potential client can then easily use this to get an insight into the company and who they might be working with.

If you are being encouraged to create a LinkedIn account by your employer, then it’s a good idea to enquire as to whether there is a particular style or message that they want conveyed. This will provide you with a starting point from which to move forward.

When selecting a profile picture, it’s important to choose something professional. Basically don’t use that picture of you on a night out that may well be adorning your personal Facebook profile at the moment. If you don’t currently have a headshot or a professional looking photo then take one at work, the cameras on modern smartphones are more than sufficient for something like this. We’d recommend your picture features your head and shoulders and is taken against a plain background, a friendly smile also won’t hurt.

With a decent picture in place, it’s time to start writing your profile.

There are several sections on your profile that you can write, firstly there is your ‘headline’. Simplicity is the key here, I would recommend sticking to your job title and employer unless your organisation has chosen to go another way.

You then have the opportunity to write a summary, this can be as long as you would like it to be but I’d recommend keeping it reasonably brief. Simple reason for this; an overly long summary just won’t get read, not very often anyway. Your summary should be just that, a summary. Briefly run through your experience, skills and interests and take the opportunity to show your passion for your work and the work of your organisation.

An example could be:

“A HCPC qualified and passionate social worker working in safeguarding and fostering and adoption for the past 13 years.

During my career I have developed experience in leading small teams, training newly qualified social workers and handling complex cases. Recently worked alongside senior managers in devising, planning and implementing a new ‘pod’ working system which promotes collaborative team working.

I pride myself on having excellent communication and interpersonal skills as well as patience and empathy which I believe allow me to be highly effective when working with children, young people and families.”

This is an effective summary as it gives a brief overview of the individual’s experience, demonstrates passion for the work they do and promotes the work being done by the organisation, all done succinctly in 2 brief paragraphs.

Next up is your experience section. It is incredibly tempting to simply copy and paste your CV but I would advise taking a different route. Rather than just listing your duties in bullet points, write about how you came to the organisation, your role (including how it may have changed during your tenure) and any particularly proud achievements. Like the summary, this will add some extra information and insight for anyone reading your profile and showcase not only your experience but your achievements and passion.

An example could be:

“Once promoted to Marketing Executive, I took on a range of new duties. I have had the opportunity to play a key part in our bigger campaigns both creatively and logistically. I have taken a lead role in our copywriting function, in particular for promotional material as well as re-writing a large amount of content for our website.

I also work closely with our design team in the production of promotional material, both digital and print.

Since taking on this role I have completed my CIM Professional Certificate in Marketing as well as short copywriting and PR courses,”

Other sections of your profile that are worthy of your attention are:

• Skills – Select the skills that you have developed over your professional and educational career and have people endorse you for them
• Recommendations – Many organisations encourage their employees to write recommendations for each other. This not only highlights peoples’ skills but also implies a happy team that enjoy working together

Now that your profile is complete, it’s time to consider your activity on LinkedIn.

Many organisations encourage their employees to be active by commenting on and reposting relevant content. Doing so can serve to place these individuals as active commentators in their field and subsequently raise their individual profile and that of their organisation. If you are actively commenting and reposting then it is important that you have a clear idea of any company guidelines or preferences that may exist, this will ensure you avoid any situations where your organisation might disapprove of comments you have made in a public forum. The professional nature of LinkedIn means that any public activity will always be associated with your organisation so therefore it’s important to consider the impression your comments will make.

If your organisation regularly post content on LinkedIn then you can show your endorsement by ‘liking’ and sharing these posts.

LinkedIn has become a hub of information about all manner of things in various industries. Individuals have the opportunity to place themselves as experts in their field by publishing blog posts which can attract a great deal of attention. If appropriate, talk to your employer about potentially publishing a post about something relevant. As above, it is important that the style, content and message is appropriate and relevant.

LinkedIn continues to grow as a platform and provides a great deal of opportunity for both you as an individual and for your organisation. Increasing numbers of companies are using it to raise their profile, spread their message and attract new customers, clients and partners. As with all public social media platforms it comes with its own set of potential pitfalls, however if profiles and activity are carefully considered it has a huge amount to offer.

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