Written by 7 Steps to Mastering Your Social Media Game Plan course instructors Jennifer St George, Senior Teaching Fellow in Public Relations, and Michele Clark, Assistant Professor in Public Relations
How is your reputation, whether personal, professional, or both, playing out on social media? Does it consist of random posts, or have you put deep thought into your social media strategy and ‘personal brand’? It’s clear that the latter is the way to go, especially as social media infiltrates our professional lives more and more – having a clear strategy to help you achieve your goals using social media can consequently stimulate your career or business.
There’s never been a better time to reach the people important to you professionally using social media. As well as helping you achieve your career aspirations, social media can connect you with your niche, and enhance your credibility in your industry or sector of choice.
But, it can also be a confusing, and sometimes, overwhelming, place to be – unless you’ve got a game plan. We’ve put together seven actionable steps to help you sort out your social media presence and make a big impact in the increasingly saturated digital space, which you can explore in-depth with our new microcredential.
Want a sneak peek of our course? Here’s some insight into why you could benefit from a social media game plan…
Who needs a social media game plan?
Before you begin, you might be wondering… ‘is this approach right for me?’ The answer is a vehement yes – anyone working in a professional capacity, whether they’re a small business owner or a corporate leader, can benefit from establishing their own social media strategy.
A key point to remember is we should never assume what works for us personally on social media will translate successfully into the business world. This is a mistake many professionals make when getting started – it’s where Jo Fargus, Senior Account Director, Corporate Practice with BCW Global, began.
Following her return to Australia after spending 14 years overseas, Jo audited her social media presence to see where she was spending time, and to re-evaluate how she was ‘showing up’ on social to benefit her professionally, rather than just personally.
“I was in a unique position in that I had just moved back to Australia and was looking to expand my professional network to ultimately find a job,” Jo says.
“I had previously been passively using social media, particularly LinkedIn, but never appreciated the benefits that a tailored strategy could give me.”
So, Jo decided to pivot and transform her profiles and social media use to align with her professional goals. This choice paid off quickly – she forged strong professional relationships using social media, which ultimately led to connecting with recruiters and securing her current job.
And it’s no wonder why – research shows that social media is overwhelmingly becoming a place for career development and decision-making. 75 per cent of people looking to change jobs used LinkedIn to inform their career decisions, and over 65 million industry decision-makers are active on LinkedIn. It’s the perfect place to establish your platform, tap into your career niche, and make big moves.
So, where do you begin?
It’s easy enough to determine you need a social media strategy – but how does that strategy actually take shape? To help you make sense of a busy landscape that’s ever-changing, we’ve developed seven steps to get you started on the road to professional success on social media. The best part is, it’s applicable to both career professionals and business owners, and can be scaled specifically for your business, too.
The first step to consider is your environment – understanding what’s going on in your world, or your sector of the professional landscape, is imperative to success. Within this, there are six critical areas to focus on.
Here’s a glimpse of how to better comprehend your professional environment, and most importantly, how you fit into what’s likely an already-saturated landscape on social media.
- Your audience. Who do you want to engage with? Consider companies, organisations, particular market segments, professional groups, or interest groups.
- Your niche. What’s your specialisation? What are you an authority on? What are you passionate about?
- Your stage of development. Are you a new graduate, or do you have 30 years of experience in your field?
- Your professional or personal characteristics. What sets you apart from the rest – is it humour, encouragement, inspiration, strategic direction?Tap into those characteristics and use them to build your personal brand.
- Your timescales and resources. How often can you create content, and how much time are you willing to devote to maintaining your engagement?
- Current trends and opportunities in social media. What’s currently happening in the world of social media, and how can you leverage this for your own presence in a timely manner?
By analysing and understanding each of these key points, you’ll have better comprehension of the world you’re entering by ‘leaning in’ to a stronger social media presence. Knowing what the landscape looks like, and how you can position yourself, using your unique skills and characteristics, to fill a niche, is integral to social success.
Getting started on social media
While your environment is only one component of your social media presence, it’s a crucial starting point. Before you dig deeper and start to set goals, profile your target audience, choose platforms and more, take some valuable time to work out why you want to use social media, and what you want to say.
Jo found her niche by tapping into past experience as a professional swimmer and showcasing the learnings from her master’s thesis.
“Social media provided me with an avenue to share my insights and content on the transition out of elite sport. I made some great connections this way, with likeminded individuals around the world, and had some really interesting conversations,” she says.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by beginning your social media journey, know you’re not alone. Jo offers three points of advice for anyone considering upskilling in social media, and making the decision to represent their professional or personal brand digitally.
- Be honest with yourself and your goals. Take a hard look at the time you spend on social media and how you can align your own brand and goals with the environment, and ultimately, be more strategic with the content you share.
- Network, network, network! Even if you’re early on in this process and don’t feel like you’ve yet established your social media persona or presence, networking is key. Add connections, reach out to them, share your content, and insert personal commentary – everyone has a story to share.
- Engage. Social media is a two-way street. The more you engage with a platform like LinkedIn, the more it will work for you.
Not sure where to start on social media? Jennifer St George and Michele Clark are the creators of 7 Steps to Mastering Your Social Media Game Plan, a 30-hour microcredential course offered by Bond University that’s completely self-paced and online. Learn how to successfully build a professional online presence with the help of two award-winning academics with extensive experience in the communications sector.
Register for 7 Steps to Mastering Your Social Media Game Plan and commence your studies at a time that suits you.