5 Rules for How To Make Social Media Benefit Your Career.

Updated on April 12th, 2024

September 26th 2022

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  • Social media in professional development is a controversial topic: they are strongly addictive and yet, they are necessary to develop and maintain a professional network and create a personal brand.

  • Over 75% of Americans complain that social media notifications kill their focus at work. No wonder that productivity management is crucial when engaging with social media.

  • In this article, we give a number of tips for building social media presence in a responsible and engaging way.

  • We also list the most popular social media and discuss for which types of activities they are the most helpful. Don’t waste your time creating content on the wrong platform!

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Can Social Media Have a Positive Impact On Your Career?

Social media in professional development is a controversial topic.

Firstly, people in your professional network only post things they do rather than things they don’t do. For this reason, you always have that feeling that others are on the move and making more career progress in their lives than you do. 

Therefore, as a way of spending time, social media can be toxic and can lead to slow degradation of mental health and even cause depression.

Secondly, although social media platforms pitch themselves as avenues where you can truly connect with people, the pandemic has shown one thing clearly.

Namely, in absence of other, traditional and direct methods of connecting with people, social media do not prevent apathy and solitude. In fact, it is even worse: social media reportedly contributed to the crisis by spreading misinformation about COVID-19.

Thirdly, remember that the influence of social media on your career strictly depends on the culture in your local working environment. For instance, despite being the cradle of social media, networking in the San Francisco / Bay Area heavily relies on human interactions rather than social media exchange. 

Please find more information about the business culture in the Silicon Valley in the article “Startup Culture in Bay Area vs Startup Culture in Amsterdam.” 

Last but not the least, extensive usage of social media can generate problems with the attention span and disturb your ability to perform deep work.

Social media notifications activate the same dopamine loop, also known as the reward system in the brain as cocaine or pathological gaming. Over 75% of Americans complain that social media notifications kill their focus at work.

Given all this, social media can be highly distracting, prevent you from achieving success in your professional life, and hamper your professional development

However, 70% of Millennial recruiters declare that they always use social media to help parse through applicants and 41% of the applicants use social media as an advertising tool to find would-be employers out the gate.

Furthermore, according to research, social media can boost team productivity at work when responsibly used by team leaders

So, can you profit from social media as a professional? The answer is: yes, but only under certain conditions.

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How To Use Social Media Wisely and Make Them Work on Behalf of Your Career.

Social media is a double-sided sword. If not used wisely, it can easily damage your career. An example might be celebrities who destroyed their while careers in a moment by misusing social media.

As an example, Vanessa Hudgens angered many of her fans when neglected the coronavirus pandemic, and denounced the lockdown measures. The actress said on Instagram that everyone is going to get the disease anyway and that death was inevitable, so the pandemic is not a big deal. The actress’ career has stopped since.

In this article, we list five rules which will help you benefit from social media to the maximum while at the same time avoiding the pitfalls associated with using social media.

0. Research Your Online Image.

As explained in our article “Online Mental Hygiene, Part 2: How To Stay Objective Online?,” Google search results are subjective, in a sense that the Google browser adjusts the search results to the specific user.

So, how you appear in the Google search results to an anonymous person? To test that, you need to browse for your name using the incognito mode and erase all the negative or outdated information that you can find.

1. Create a Full Picture of You As a Professional Online and Make Yourself Easy To Find.

Professional success heavily depends on your online presence. Although creating a strong LinkedIn profile or personal landing page might be laborious and time-consuming, it is an solid investment in your future professional success. 

So, do not procrastinate and take care of your online branding today! By introducing you to potential employers and clients and showcasing your talents and experience, social media profiles and activity serve as virtual business cards.

So, make sure that your profile appropriately reflects your current professional status and aspirations if you want to make the most of your social media presence. 

Your social media posts reflect your personal brand and serve as a virtual representation of you online. Therefore, it is crucial to take the time and effort necessary to create an appealing profile and communicate clearly.

It’s also critical to understand that various facets of your professional and educational history are valued to a different extent in various locations and industries. For instance, education history is highly valued in the US as higher education is so expensive there. On the contrary, university degrees may be more accessible and thus less exclusive in Europe.

Therefore, provide all relevant information on your career and educational history to make your online profiles as complete as feasible. By doing this, you’ll increase the likelihood that the right individuals will find you and advance your career.

Of course, for your professional development, the most relevant social medium is currently LinkedIn. For more information on how to create a compelling LinkedIn profile, please check our article “10 Steps to Create an Effective LinkedIn Profile.

Furthermore, make yourself easy to find online. Today, social media are not disconnected but rather, they form one huge ecosystem in which you need to get visible.

When someone finds your profile on LinkedIn, they might be also willing to check your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts — or vice versa. People often prefer one social medium over another and would rather connect with you using their preferred social medium.

Therefore, you should make sure that it is easy to find information about your multiple social media accounts. A good practice is to create a free personal Linktree account, list all your social media profiles in there.

Then, just link your LinkTree profile in the headlines on all your social media profiles. This is an easy way in which users looking for your personal information can easily navigate between platforms.

Lastly, make sure that you are easy to recognize. Use the same profile photo on every platform and make sure that the slugs contain your full name. It is better to add numbers to your name in case your preferred slug is taken than come up with a nickname that other users might be unfamiliar with.

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2. Specific Advice For Building the Following on The Leading Social Media Platforms.

Lastly, social media platforms vary in scope and follow various written and unwritten rules. It is hard to become visible on every single platform unless you have a team of subcontractors actively working on your social media communications for you.

Below, we will review most popular and effective social media available today. Small strategic mistakes in the beginnings of your “social media career” can waste you lots of time and even completely discourage you from trying.

This is why, next to introducing a number of platforms, we also recommend Skillshare and Coursera courses for beginners that can help you start and avoid popular pitfalls associated with building social media following. 

In general, Skillshare platform courses are behind a paywall, but you can take the weekly free trial and that’s enough time to complete a course of your choice.

So, the platforms that you should first think of joining as a professional are (in the order of the most to the least relevant):

a. LinkedIn.

An obvious choice for every professional and every business — as of today, it’s the to-go-to place for professional development online.

Staying active on LinkedIn is particularly advisable when you are in the process of looking for jobs. However, it is even more efficient to build a career in a lean way, namely by building reputation and network on platforms such as LinkedIn on a daily basis. 

Furthermore, you can learn new skills on LinkedIn, using the platform’s extensive LinkedIn Learn database of courses. Lastly, as a business owner, you can find and hire international talent by posting job offers and collecting applications through the platform.

,While posting on LinkedIn, you need to remember that it is meant for professional development. Therefore, it is better to keep your content at least remotely related to your professional life.

Furthermore, it is important to describe yourself on LinkedIn in a way that ennobles you. For instance, if you are just starting a business, it is better to name yourself “business developer” rather than “business newbie.”

This sounds logic and natural, and yet, many professionals downgrade themselves on LinkedIn using meaningless, casual, or outdated professional labels.

How to network specifically on LinkedIn and accelerate your career development? For more practical advice, please check our article “Top 11 Rules For Effective Networking on LinkedIn.”

b. Facebook.

Despite the platform slowly dying due to its dysfunctional, ad-based business model, it is still the biggest platform with 3 billion accounts (as compared to less than 1 billion accounts for LinkedIn). Therefore, Facebook is impossible to ignore.

Facebook is less formal than LinkedIn and can well serve as a platform for connecting and staying in touch with family and friends. Network also has a rich culture of little communities focused on specific hobbies, interests, and causes, that is, Facebook groups. Lastly, Facebook is one of the to-go-to platforms for online marketing, especially for small business selling digital and retail products. 

While posting on Facebook, you need to remember that it is a visual platform — every post should be illustrated with a photo or graphics, or otherwise, it will go unnoticed.

If you struggle with building your Facebook engagement, you might be willing to quickly build your knowledge by learning from Facebook experts, for instance by taking the course “4 Posts that Will Get You More Engagement on Facebook” at Skillshare.

c. Instagram.

Today, communication is becoming more and more meme-based, brief, and visual. In a way, we slowly come back to the prehistoric ways of communicating using pictograms! No wonder more and more businesses and individuals move the center of their online activity to Instagram.

Instagram is particularly beneficial to visual content creators, educators, and businesses with visual products that can be presented on screen.

In fact, launching your activity on Instagram is not as difficult as one might think. Before you grow enough to hire a professional social media manager, you can easily create professional, eye-catching Instagram posts in Canva, where you will find thousands of free, visually appealing designs.

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you can also decrease the effort by linking both accounts so that your Facebook posts automatically show up on your Instagram.

While setting your Instagram account, please also make sure that you are easy to find for all those people who know your name but don’t have your Instagram tag. Sign up on Instagram under your full name and pick a profile photo which clearly shows your face. Don’t use a mysterious nickname!

Do you have hard time developing your Instagram content and following? You can try the Skillshare course crafted specifically for Instagram beginners, “Instagram Best Practices: Grow Your Community, Work with Brands.”

d. YouTube & Spotify.

Today, creating podcasts is not only the domain of professional content creators but also individuals who wish to show their professional knowledge to the world and create new professional contacts.

Of course, YouTube and Spotify are most beneficial if you are a content creator, educator, a commentator, an artist, a tech enthusiast, or an entertainer by profession. In that case, your YouTube or Spotify content will be an easy play. 

So, you feel that you could spare one evening per week to do something creative and work-related, but you don’t feel like writing blogs, you should consider shooting videos or creating audio files and putting your content online.

YouTube is the second biggest browser in the world, right after Google. Therefore, it will help you promote your content for free.

Of course, you don’t need to make double effort and develop your YouTube and Spotify accounts separately. It is easily to convert your YouTube content into audio files and load them onto Spotify.

So, are you thinking of your own YouTube channel but you don’t know where to start? Please take a look at Natalia’s personal story on starting a YouTube channel and a Skillshare course “How to Start a Successful YouTube Channel from Scratch.”

e. TikTok.

TikTok is a controversial but phenomenal platform to promote yourself as a professional. However, today, not only generation Z but also older generations are eager to use TikTok. The reason is simple: TikTok movies are short and don’t require nearly as much time commitment as watching YouTube.

TikTok is heaven for content creators and influencers, educators, artists, fitness and finance experts, and entertainers. Of course, brands are also welcome to join TikTok, but they have to accept a more dynamic and entertaining, videoclip-style of creating content.

So, if you enjoy talking to a camera and if you prefer brief forms of communication, TikTok is perfect for you. Of course, Youtube and Tiktok are complimentary, not contradictory! You can use the content created for YouTube, cherrypick juicy moments, and convert them into TikTok videos.

How to start navigating in the TikTok world though – especially if you are not an active user? It would be a good starting point to learn about how the unique TikTok algorithm works, for instance from Eugene Wei’s article “TikTok and the Sorting Hat.”

f. Twitter / X.

Especially since Elon Musk took over Twitter, the platform is rather unpopular and some of the users moved to alternative platforms such as Mastodon, BlueSky, or Threads

However, as of today, Twitter or X, is simply too big to fail. Creators, thoughts leaders, and companies communicate with their clients, followers, and users on Twitter daily and it is not going to change any time soon.

Seems Twitter posts are the most ephemeral, getting noticed on Twitter is hard. Therefore, the platform seems to be the most appropriate means of communication to thought leaders, influencers, public figures, educators, entertainers, and established brands.

You can also benefit from using twitter, especially if you actively engage in a conversation with individuals whom you find authorities in your discipline and representatives of companies which you would like to join in the future.

g. Pinterest.

As a visual platform showcasing ideas, Pinterest is the first line of choice primarily for businesses based on visual content such as lifestyle blogs, restaurants, and interior design firms.

It is beneficial to use Pinterest if you produce or sell products that are visually appealing (such as food or flowers), or if you can easily produce uplifting, positive, or informative content related to your daily activity. Pinterest is popular for posting interior design, fashion, travel, lifestyle, cooking recipes, parenting, and art.

Of course, you can also choose to develop your Pinterest either as a business or as an individual. However, developing following on Pinterest is highly time- and energy-consuming, therefore, it is typically preferred by businesses.

How to start on Pinterest? You can, for instance, consider taking the Skillshare course “How to Create Amazing Pins for Pinterest” to learn all the basics.

h. Clubhouse.

works best for thought leaders and content creators. If you enjoy chatting about topics related to your discipline, Clubhouse is perfect for promoting yourself as a professional with a little effort.

i. Medium.

If you enjoy writing, promoting yourself as a professional via Medium is perfect for gaining readership and building your personal brand in your field.

Writing on Medium has lots to do with journalism as readers expect pieces written in essay- or press article style. For training in journalism, please take a look at specialization “Become a Journalist: Report the News!” at Coursera.

Do you need to choose just one platform? Mind that Google algorithm no longer penalizes for doubling content across social media platforms. Therefore, you are free to copy your own content across platforms and cite yourself.

Of course, the day only has 24 hours. Sometimes, you need to choose well and focus rather than try to build following across multiple platforms at a time. It is a risky scenario, as no one can predict which platforms will still be alive in the perspective of 5-10 years, especially given the recent web3 movement.

However, those who reached the stars online and made global impact, such as the YouTube superstar Mr Beast, played their bets and fully indulged in developing themselves using one medium to became the global player rather than dividing their attention between multiple channels.

Remember that once you get to certain level of popularity, you will also have additional funds to delegate the content production on other platforms.recipes, 

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3. Conneeeeect!

Once your social media accounts are in place, time to connect with anyone who might be relevant to you in your professional life. Remember that not only your current coworkers, but also your past coworkers, friends from childhood and primary school, and your distant family might matter for your professional career!

Also, remember that most people appreciate low-intensity contact. If they observe your social media activity for a long time and sporadically have contact with you, they will interpret you as a friend.

It is more important to have low-intensity contact over a long period than high-intensity contact all the time. For this reason, the more people you invite to your network, the better for you.

Last but not the least, remember that following professionals on LinkedIn doesn’t guarantee that you will receive all their updates. As default you will only be presented their top posts. If you are willing to see all their feed, you need to access their profile and click the bell icon. 

4. Safety First: Learn The Rules of Social Media Communication.

Safety first!

Remember about accountability associated with social media. Once you develop your social media profiles and network, you need to learn the hygiene of social media communications. If you communicate in the wrong way, you might raffle feathers, make yourself enemies in your professional environment, or even lose your job.

Today, the differences in tone between various platforms have blurred. While a decade ago, Facebook and Twitter were strictly casual and LinkedIn was strictly professional, now, the tone in communication came closer between platforms.

You should take this into account while communicating online. Your manager and your colleagues will likely watch your Facebook profile and might get judgmental once they notice a photo from a party where you are caught sleeping on a couch.

Or, when they take a look at your Instagram and notice dozens of seminude photos in a swimming suit taken on a holiday trip.

You also need to remember about accountability: nothing really evaporates from the Internet. Therefore, it is not worth getting pulled into heated debates on social media.

As a rule of thumb, there are three internationally acclaimed taboos that you should NEVER touch: politics, religion, and sexual orientation. 

Just imagine that you express your strong democratic views on every occasion, then you apply for a job, and find out at the interview that the recruiter is a dogmatic Republican. That’s a self-checkmate.

So, make sure that you come across as neutral and polite online. If you feel a deep need to freely express your views and show your support for certain politicians or activists — for instance, on Twitter — you should create a second, anonymous account for that purpose.

And of course, never complain about your boss and working conditions on social media, unless you are ready and excited for a long period of unemployment.

Furthermore, be brief and transparent. Some people flood the Internet with their stream of thoughts and share their opinions on any possible topic without any limits.

If you talk about everything, you become an expert in nothing. If you talk all the time, people stop listening. Or they get so annoyed with the volume of your content that they unfollow or unsubscribe.

Therefore, make sure that your communications are spiked with content and brief. Make memorable punchlines rather than telling long stories. Chop your posts into short, one-two sentence paragraphs to make them easy to read. Use emojis to draw attention to important elements such as links.

Also, remember that people are interested in one thing only: themselves. Therefore, the more advice and useful information you share online, the more career progress you will observe.

Lastly, learn about online culture! Today, social media speak their own language full of emojis and memes. Social media communications become much more fun when you learn to speak this fascinating, multifaceted language. To learn more about emojis in the workplace, please check our article “Emojis in the Workplace: Hot or Not?

5. Make Social Media Work For You, Not The Other Way Around.

Just as it is with cooking, some people rest while using social media while others get tired of it pretty quickly. Regardless of how you naturally react to social media, they will stimulate the reward system in your brain.

Therefore, you need to introduce some system meant to control your dopamine levels. You need to set clear rules for how to manage social media, and when.

Counterintuitively, it works better to treat social media as a task, and when it comes to that, focus on your social media activity — rather than treat them as a distraction and take a quick look to squeeze in between meetings.

You also need to set rules for your online communications. Many strangers might write to you during the day, therefore, you should set your limits. Also, what is your optimal division of time between producing your own content and engaging in the discussions under other creators’ content?

If you are a content creator or a leader in your field, you probably need to spare more than 50% of your “social media time” on broadcasting your own, original content and points of view.

If you are a specialist who does not seek any attention online, you might be willing to spend the majority of your social media time engaging in interesting conversations and making new connections that might potentially lead to new jobs.

Just think about how you would wish to benefit from social media and adjust your strategy to this wishlist. Also, make sure that the “dopamine shots” that you obtain via social media don’t disturb your productivity.

You might, for instance, pair using the pomodoro technique with free software such as Franz that allows you to log in and out of all your social media accounts at a time. In this way, you can fully disconnect and indulge into deep work interchangeably with breaks when you can enjoy your social media feed.

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Don’t Go For The Shortcuts.

While building the social media following, you will experience lots of temptation. Hundreds of scammers will contact you trying to sell you thousands of followers, likes, impressions, and other forms of engagement.

It is not a good idea to fall for these offers. At first, it might look like you are successful and have a genuine following, but in the long term, your personal brand might suffer from this.

Experienced social media users can tell the difference between real engagement and bots, and they won’t take the cheaters lightly. In the log run, building your social media organically, producing value, and communicating with your audience will give the status of an expert and you lots of additional benefits. It is worth to be patient.

If you have hard time looking for ideas for your blog posts, you could utilize new, AI-powered solutions that will allow you to keep in touch with the developments in your field. Namely, tools such as Deeep or AOMNI can provide you a new web-based news feed in your discipline of interest curated using AI.

Remember That Social Media Is Not Your Own Ground.

While building social media presence is crucially important for your professional development, your social media accounts are not your own online ground.

The companies behind social media have a full control over what is displayed on their platforms, and can block your account any time. While officially, there are rules to protect you, in reality, it is their own decision. 

On January 8th, 2021 the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, got permanently blocked by Twitter which was, at a time, his main channel of communication with his voters.

Therefore, you need to make sure that you are visible regardless of any single social medium. You can achieve this in the following way:

1. Diversify!

Make sure that you have at least 2 to 3 functional social media accounts on platforms that belong to different companies. For instance, Facebook and Instagram are both owned by Meta, and as such, they are not independent, so you can technically get cancelled from both these media at a time.

Moreover, we cannot predict the future online trends. The leading platforms of today might fall into oblivion in a decade from now. Therefore, never put your eggs in just one basket.

2. Create a Personal Website.

Your personal website is your private plot in the world of the Internet. Only buying your own domain online and hosting it on your own server, or one of the popular hosting platforms independent from social media can guarantee that you will not be cancelled online.

Moreover, in the times of growing web3, we can expect more plurality and an explosion of new, decentralized social media platforms. How can you predict which platform it is best to put your efforts in? The only effort that will pay back for certain, is investing in your personal website and optimizing its SEO so that any search engine can easily find it.

Therefore, in the long run, you will need to create and maintain a personal website regardless of how popular your social media will become.

Today, you don’t need to build your personal website from scratch but you can use automated AI tools such as Butternut.ai to create a professional template for your new landing page in seconds.

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Conclusion: How To Make Social Media Benefit Your Career?

Social media offer almost unlimited opportunities in terms of self-promotion as a professional. However, you shouldn’t expect fast results and dynamic career development while communicating on social media. Furthermore, the more creativity and heart you show, the better results you will achieve.

As an example, a Postdoctoral researcher Ivan Alcantara used his baking skills to draw attention to himself as a potential future employee on Twitter in a witty way. This brought him a ton of attention, following, and support, and put him in a great position in his job search.

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Remember that the growth is nonlinear and it often follows an exponential curve. Don’t expect fast results; it is a long-term game. Many people miss the patience necessary to get results from social media activity and give up right before they can witness the effects of their social media activity. 

On the good side of things though, you don’t need as much following to make progress in your career as you might think. In fact, according to the popular 1,000 True Fans concept, you only need 1,000 faithful followers who love your content to live off from your activity. This is because annual sales 100 dollars worth of products and  services  per fan  will secure your income.

Furthermore, follow the innovation around (social) media. We are currently experiencing a technological revolution around the Internet. The new developments in web3 might lead to whole new ways of organizing the data and online communication in the future.

Therefore, we cannot take any social media platform for granted. In your career development, you need to be flexible and open-minded, follow the trends, and systematically hone your online communication skills. Good luck!

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Please cite as:

Bielczyk, N. (2022, September 26th). 5 Rules for How To Make Social Media Benefit Your Career. Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/5-rules-for-how-to-make-social-media-benefit-your-career/

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