5 Tips for Tackling Social Media to Boost Your Career Practice
By Maureen McCann.
Using social media to promote career services doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, it can be as simple as leveraging what you already know and applying it to social media posts.
Frank Parsons, considered the father of career development, suggested that career practitioners possess:
- an accurate understanding of our traits,
- a knowledge of the labour market, and
- an understanding of the relationship between the two.
Career practitioners can take these three areas of knowledge and apply them to creating an effective social media plan.
- Knowing yourself and the expertise you have to offer will shape what content you share.
- Knowing your data and labour-market trends will inform what types of clients you are best able to serve.
- Understanding the relationship between yourself and your audience will allow you to clearly explain the value you have to offer that audience.
Here are my 5 tips, based on personal experience, for creating a compelling, effective social media presence in support of your career practice.
Be yourself. When you start off using social media for your career practice, of course you’re going to want to be professional and polished. That’s what I did. I was tweeting and posting on LinkedIn like a woman wearing a tailored business suit, sitting in a big office in downtown Toronto. But as I got more comfortable and confident in my posts, I began showing people who I really was. The more they got to know me–my outlook, my sense of humour–the more they engaged with my content. People were liking what I was saying, even if it wasn’t 100% polished and professional because they could relate to the tips I was sharing. Evolving from polished professional to authentic adviser worked for me. If you’re just starting to use social media for your practice, engaging with online communities through a professional persona might be a good place to start.
Focus. Who do you want to reach? Choose a generic or ideal client you want to engage. For me, that’s Todd, a mid-level executive thinking about a career change. Each time I post, I think of Todd. Is what I’m sharing of value to Todd? Would he find this interesting? Would he respond to this content? By focusing my attention on Todd, I stop myself from posting too broadly. Stay focused by asking yourself, “Is this content providing value to my target clientele?”
Learn it, do it. When you learn something new, implement it right away. Don’t hesitate. Put what you know into practice immediately.
Just learned about Twitter? Send out a tweet.
Don’t yet know how to share a story on Instagram? Go to YouTube and search: “How to share a story on Instagram.”
The trick is to not fall too far behind. There’s already quite a variety of social media platforms out there and very likely some as-yet-unknown ones under development. Pick the platforms you feel will best serve your purposes. Once you settle on your platforms, try out all their available features so that you’re familiar and comfortable with them. New features are introduced regularly and I’ve found that it’s easier to understand and make use of new capabilities when I’m already up-to-speed on existing ones.
Spend a few minutes a day or week learning about social media. Here’s your first challenge: use your phone, tablet, or computer and share one post using the hashtag #careerpro. Hashtags are a way to sort and find topics on most social media platforms. You might say something as simple as:
- Reading a post about social media. #careerpro
You might also create something more complex like:
- Using #socialmedia to help #Canadians with #careerdevelopment. #careerpro link to post
Whatever you choose to share, remember your audience. Provide your followers with valuable content 90% of the time and use the remaining 10% to promote your career services.
Engage. Don’t be shy. That is, after all, what we teach clients about networking, right? Reach out to people, share your thoughts, tips, ideas, and recommendations. Like, comment, tag, and talk to people in your online network. Be an example to your clients of how to expand your online network. Show, don’t tell. Instead of telling your clients how to network, show them how it’s done by networking online via platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
Create an idea bank. It may feel like you do not have time to add social media to your already full calendar. Not a problem. Find a place to jot down your ideas for posts and keep writing them down every chance you get. You may not be able to dedicate 10 minutes a day to social media, but you can spare a minute or two to jot down an idea. This might be a client question you answered earlier in the day, for example, or an email you received from a colleague – it’s pretty easy to repurpose anything into a post or a share. For example, the post you’re reading right now was re-purposed from a panel discussion I was invited to be part of at Cannexus19 with Ali Breen, Donnalee Bell, Lindsay Purchase, and Seanna Quressette on “Career Development for Our Field: A National Conversation.”
You don’t have to be the father of career development to share your expertise with the world. Use what you’re already doing to promote your services. Be one of the thought leaders, change-makers, life-changers, advocates, supporters, educators, and innovators who supports Canadians as a dedicated career professional.