20 ways to use social media to advance your career
Approximately 3.3 billion people in the world use social media, making it an indelible part of our society. People check in on their loved ones using Facebook, catch up on the news on Twitter, shop online via Instagram, and keep up with their colleagues on LinkedIn. If you’ve got career goals in mind, social media savvy will help you obtain them. Whether it’s landing your dream job, getting your side hustle off the ground, or just learning from the best in the business, there are plenty of ways to advance your career without even leaving your desk.
Use LinkedIn to find your next job
LinkedIn has become the foremost job site across North America. According to US News, 95 per cent of recruiters use LinkedIn as a primary way to look for qualified candidates to bring to their clients. Active job-seekers can use LinkedIn to find job postings, contact recruiters directly, and apply easily with their LinkedIn resumes. Attach a professional-looking photo to your profile and ask colleagues for recommendations to give your profile an edge over the competition.
Navigate hashtags like a pro
Whether you’re getting your side hustle off the ground, trying to establish yourself as an expert, or just job hunting, there’s a rich field of hashtags that you can incorporate to achieve your goals. For example, if you’re looking for a job, identify the hashtags that employers work with and use them to narrow your search (e.g., “#JournalismJobs” or “TeacherJobs” or “#RemoteJobs”). To become known in your industry, use hashtags when tweeting about events and conferences so people can find you easily.
Build your professional network for advice and future leads
Even if you’re happy with the job you have, LinkedIn can still help you advance your career. More and more recruiters are actively seeking out passive candidates - people who aren’t looking for a new job, but who might have the right experience and skill set and could be swayed by the right opportunity - to fill their openings. Keeping an updated profile and regularly connecting with people on the platform help passive candidates build their professional networks and remain open to dream opportunities that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Stay engaged with changing industry trends through groups
LinkedIn is a job site, but it’s also much more than that. LinkedIn helps like-minded professionals find each other, form groups, talk about their careers, discuss industry trends, and swap contacts. Staying active in these groups will not only keep you informed of what’s going on in your field, it can also provide you with advice, an expanded perspective from colleagues around the world, new and interesting contacts, and opportunities not available elsewhere.
Follow experts in your field
In the wide-ranging world of LinkedIn, there’s always someone from whom you can learn a thing or two, such as job market and productivity experts, people with your dream job who are openly sharing advice about how to get there, and well-known industry leaders offering decades of wisdom. Many of them publish blog content and resources on LinkedIn free for anyone to read. If you’re not seeking out the top people in your field, you’re missing out on an opportunity for personal growth and education. At best, you'll make a personal connection; at worst, you can admire their careers quietly from afar and see what kind of insights they have to offer. Either way, it’s a win-win for you.
Become an expert
After you’ve acclimated to LinkedIn and participated in enough discussions with like-minded individuals in your industry, you may become more comfortable sharing your professional opinions and helping people in earlier stages of their careers. With enough time, effort, and focus, you can establish yourself as a thought leader, which will gradually pay off in exposure and reputation.
Keep an eye on your dream companies
If you’re actively searching for a job or working somewhere you like but are looking for more opportunities, LinkedIn can help connect you with your dream company. Is there a brand you’ve worshipped for ages and would love to work for or a company that shares your values and does amazing work? Follow them to find out about future opportunities or connect with the person who has your dream job to gain insight from their full career trajectory and get a feel for culture fit.
Raise your company profile
LinkedIn isn’t just for individual job seekers looking for a leg up. If you’re part of a team that you love, make the most of LinkedIn to boost your company’s profile and generate leads by posting content about its cool work environment, latest success stories, outstanding projects, and professional how-to’s. Staying on top of your company’s profile will help you generate greater interest and attract more qualified candidates the next time your team has an opening.
Publish accolades not mentioned on a formal résumé
There are tons of ways to flaunt your stuff without losing valuable résumé space. Numerous informal and hard-to-categorize accolades, like receiving positive feedback from your CEO on a project, running a successful campaign, writing an article for a prestigious journal or magazine, or just celebrating an impressive work anniversary, are all newsworthy updates that can garner interest in your profile with immediate results.
Establish your personal brand on Facebook
While LinkedIn is an overtly career-oriented platform, Facebook can help you build a platform based on your personality and give you access to hundreds and thousands of new people. Play around, find a niche, and with very little equipment, build a following off of your existing contacts. Whether for your main job or your side hustle, Facebook can help you get the attention you need for growth and more public-facing opportunities.
Engage with like-minded professionals in your city
Facebook offers thousands of groups that enable strangers to get together and talk about their common interests or professions in a more casual setting than LinkedIn. From neighbourhood community associations to interest-based groups, you can easily find and engage with like-minded individuals. Generate leads and find tips to build your business and learn about offline networking events through local professional networks.
Start a side hustle
Facebook is the ideal place to establish your side business. Access people across any demographic that suits your needs (sorted by age, location, or interests). It’s easy to create a page, post your products, and get hustling. Are you an accountant who also moonlights as a personal trainer? Or, perhaps you're a graphic designer with a passion for baking who's ready to generate income baking custom cakes for people in your neighbourhood? With a simple Facebook page and some elbow grease, get your business off the ground and start attracting customers in no time.
Promote your business
Once you’ve established your side hustle or passion project, Facebook makes it easy to get noticed in your community and networks. Navigate groups specific to a location or demographic (like busy moms, car enthusiasts, or people of a specific ethnic background) and discreetly offer your product as a solution to their common problems. Be mindful, however, of shameless self-promotion. Just like in the real-life marketplace, people online are wary of pushy salespeople.
Diversify your Facebook content
When it comes to getting your business out there, you may be initially inclined to grab attention by being up front about what you're selling, even if what you’re selling is yourself. However, long-term success requires a savvier approach. Luckily, Facebook allows for a diversity of content, from videos to customer testimonials to longer-form posts, as well as images and paid advertisement. Take advantage of all that Facebook has to offer to implement a multi-pronged approach to your business promotion.
Engage with high-level experts in your field
As you make a name for yourself on Twitter, don't forget that the platform also offers direct engagement with people you admire in a more casual manner than LinkedIn. The immediate nature of Twitter enables you to respond to a tweet by a well-known academic, your favourite science-fiction writer, or an esteemed journalist in real time and let a conversation unfold. If it yields engagement - great! Maybe you’ll eke out a few additional followers. Regardless, the opportunities to learn directly from people at the top of their fields are boundless - just try to be respectful about it.
Become a thought leader
Twitter has few of the features offered by Facebook and LinkedIn. It has no dedicated groups, offers fewer video capabilities, and lacks the diverse content options of the other two platforms, and yet almost everyone with a public persona is on Twitter. Use Twitter to become a thought leader, expert, or influencer and help drive your message to thousands of new followers.
Showcase your personality
If you have a way with words, strong and well-informed opinions, a sense of humour, or industry expertise, Twitter can help raise your platform with equal measures of authority and personal flair. To become a data science expert on Twitter, for example, throw in occasional anecdotes from your everyday life or tweet about your niche interests to relate to people on a human level. In a society and marketplace increasingly swayed by authenticity and personality, being approachable can garner attention from a more diverse readership.
Paint a picture for your Instagram followers
Instagram is a great way to engage a younger, more loyal demographic in your business. If you have a beautiful product and an eye for design, communicate your vision to the public in all its glorious and spectacular splendour. Boost your personal brand awareness and make your brand more accessible to your audience by posting consistently eye-catching lifestyle content, marketing your beautiful products, or creating behind-the-scenes (#bts) videos. There’s a world of creativity to explore and, if played right, a billion active Instagram users to attract.
Increase your blog or website traffic
Social media is the ideal place to capture the attention of casual Internet browsers because of the low level of engagement required. Turn Internet trawlers into customers by sending traffic to your website. Offer Facebook-specific promotions or write a blog and link to it on Twitter. Turn a topic into a conversation and respond directly to customers and readers to improve your offering.
Just do you
Ultimately, social media, whether it’s used for personal activities, to further your career, or to build your business, is about making connections. It’s a constantly evolving experiment with new features added frequently across all platforms and an unlimited number of ways to engage new people. Against this somewhat chaotic backdrop, the most important thing to keep in mind as you grow and reach more people is to stay true to yourself. Be authentically you. After all, it’s what potential employers and future customers are really looking for.