Social media can be pretty intimidating for some people—especially those who tend to shun the spotlight and avoid self-promotion. That being said, there’s no denying that social platforms can and do allow individuals to build personal brands that afford them greater professional opportunities.
Having a robust social media presence is an asset to your long-term career growth. In a survey by recruitment platform Tallo, 87% of Gen Z respondents saw the career significance of online personal branding. These competitive young workers and employees-to-be are making it imperative for candidates of any age to up their personal branding game online.
No matter what career stage you’re in, you can use social media to your advantage to improve your personal brand. Here are three strategies that will help.
1. Look beyond LinkedIn
Most people assume that when it comes to career growth, the only social media platform worth spending time on is LinkedIn. This is a myth. While anyone who knows me has heard me tout LinkedIn as a crucial starting point (with over half a billion users worldwide!) there is real power in supplementing it—as long as your image and messaging remain consistent across all platforms and your goals are tailored to what each one does best. For instance, LinkedIn is indeed essential for delivering your digital first impression and expanding your professional network, but Twitter is ideal for sharing content you’ve published and starting a discussion. Should you have a professional presence on every major social platform? It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Brian Freeman, CEO and founder of microinfluencer platform Heartbeat, believes it’s a mistake to overlook newer, trendy platforms like TikTok if you want to bulk up your audience.
“TikTok makes it easier than any other platform to go viral and gain a new following, then pass that following on to other social media platforms where you have a presence,” he says. “Whether it’s Instagram, Twitch, Twitter, or YouTube, you can go viral on TikTok and gain thousands of new followers on a second platform at the same time.”
Most social media users are active on multiple platforms. When someone decides to follow you on one, follow them back—and then follow them on a different app to win their views across social.
2. Publicize your expertise
“Thought leadership” is a term often used in the content marketing world to describe content produced by company executives aiming to position themselves as experts in an industry or topic area. It can take myriad forms, but its goal is always to reinforce the credibility of the brands (personal and corporate) that produce and byline it—and it’s typically quite effective. Good news: It can work for you, too.
While publicists pitch the media, asking journalists to write about their clients, thought leadership lets you become the author of that coverage, not just by publishing your content in traditional outlets but also by publishing it through social media. If you’re an expert at something, let the world know by sharing your knowledge and ideas. Speaking at conferences, serving on boards and interacting with journalists and other influencers in your field of expertise will of course allow you to learn from and teach others, and it will also get you acquainted with people who might be able to help you achieve personal and professional goals. But taking a proactive approach to sharing your expertise on social media shows the world that you’re open to professional interaction and eager to answer questions. Engage in group discussions, provide thoughtful commentary on relevant posts and make an effort to introduce others to helpful resources, and you’ll be surprised by the opportunities that come your way.
3. Advocate for your organization
You’re serious about your career, so you want to be taken seriously—whether that’s at your current company or at the one you aspire to join. Your social accounts, when consistently and professionally branded, provide a platform for your company or college to get some free PR, which can help with both sales and recruiting on their end. Plus, by painting your colleagues and cohorts in a positive light, you’ll cement your image as a team player who cares about your organization’s future. That’s something every employer wants to see.
Doug Wilber, CEO of Gremlin Social (now Denim Social), a social media solution for banks, understands the power of social selling (branded content posted on employee accounts).
“When employees share their positive work experience on their personal accounts, they become powerful recruiting tools that can draw in potential candidates and increase employee retention,” he says.
In turn, employees also benefit from brand advocacy. When you have a credible personal brand online, your words carry more weight with potential customers and other external contacts, meaning you’ll likely have more success in your day-to-day role.
Social media scrolling doesn’t have to be mindless or unproductive. In fact, social platforms give you a way to create and seize opportunities that would have been off-limits just a decade ago. Start with the three strategies above, and you’ll be amazed to see how far your personal brand can reach.
This article was originally published on Forbes on April 7, 2020.