Personal branding using social media: Are you making it work for you?

As public relation students, we are familiar with the useful nature of various social media platforms as a means to effectively communicate with the public. This, of course, is relevant for any company we choose to work for when we enter in the professional field.

Until then, how can we make social media for us?

Social media is an important tool in the process of “personal branding”, something essential to building an online presence on the Internet.

What comes up when you Google yourself? Have you sent a resume to an employer recently? Most likely, they know.

Now, at least 45 percent of employers use social networking sites to research their candidates.

In a blog post by Dan Schawbel titled,  “Personal Marketing Basics: 5 Tips to Get Started” he explains five key elements in gaining a positive online presence as well as efficient ways to do it:

1)    Start with the basics. Read up on your industry of choice by using research tools such as WetFeet, job boards like Monster and the Web site Glassdoor to read interviews and company reviews.

2)    Use LinkedIn’s “Company Search” to find out who works at your ideal company on LinkedIn. You could find you have connections you were not aware of before.

3)    Claim your Google profile.

Side note: In my personal experience, (hopefully due to the fact that I have a very common name) images and articles very much unrelated to me (porn) come up. Needless to say, I took a particular interest in the subject!

4)    Create a Twitter account specifically for your job search. By using a Web site called Twellow you can find (and follow) the big guys in your industry.

5)    Join relevant groups and discussions on LinkedIn. After joining groups relevant to your career goals, you can establish yourself as an “active” and passionate contributor. Engaging with others and creating relationships could lead you to a new window of opportunity.

Ok, maybe you have already taken these steps…but how do you figure out if anyone is paying attention in the never-ending online world?

Last week in my JMC425 Online media class, we discussed different ways to measure if social media is helping you create an online presence.

Thanks Dr. Gilpin, I learned that there are five ways to measure is social media is working for you: Valence (the positive/negative buzz), interaction (avg. # of comments), reach, loyalty (subscribers), and visibility.

For example, you can measure your reach using tools like Tweetreach and Twinfluence.

In the world of social media, has it become impossible to get noticed on a traditional resume? How much does having this online presence set you apart from the other candidates?

Personally, I hate to think all the effort we spend creating and distributing content online had gone completely unnoticed. This way, you can see who’s watching and even get some constructive criticism out of it.

Now, you might want to ask yourself: Is social media working for you?

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10 Responses to Personal branding using social media: Are you making it work for you?

  1. n_applegate says:

    This is a very interesting topic. I always knew that if I had a photo of poor tatste on facebook that it should not be up there because it could come up in searches, but I never really thought about how we could use coming up in searches to our advantaged. This was definitely helpful information with graduation coming up in less than six months and companies looking for the best candidates to hire. I will take this blog into consideration. Social media is not currently working for me, I googled my name and the only person that came up was Christina Applegate, but I will definitely begin to make social media work for me. Thank You.

  2. sferrer says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. With graduation coming up, I am figuring ways to reach out to people who will open doors for me. I have never heard of Tweetreach or Twininfluence prior to this blog post and I strongly agree that they are great tools for career development. As PR students and future PR specialists, we know that brand awareness is one of the areas we work closely with. I definitely think if you can illustrate to employers that you can successfully brand yourself then you can also successfully bring brand awareness to clients.

  3. ekozak says:

    To be honest, I am not sure if social media is working for me….. yet. When I google my name, some things relevant to me come up, as well as many things that relate to other people named “Erin Kozak.” However, in that long list, you can find my Twitter account and a link to a Web site that lists many news stories I wrote at a former internship.

    In order to help my online presence gain traction as I approach graduation, I will be setting up an e-portfolio in the next few weeks. I also plan to join more groups in LinkedIn and try to comment on more public relations blogs. Since I am new to Twitter, I am currently searching for the best PR industry pros to follow and I am trying to be consistent in my tweeting. Once I get a smart phone (possibly in January), I believe it will be easier to tweet as things are happening instead of waiting until I am by a computer. Hopefully these small steps will improve my online presence.

  4. mkuhl says:

    As someone with an uncommon name, I know that when you google my name, it’s all my stuff. Some stuff shows up that employers will most likely want to see, such as my facebook and twitter accounts, but other irrelevant things pop up such as my scores on past gymnastics competitions from when I was just 13. It is interesting nonetheless.

    My roommate is a law student, and I know this topic is extremely relevant to her. She has even had to start going by her middle name professionally so that employers do not see what pops up when you google her name (PETA protests, tempe 12, etc.) because when you become a lawyer, image and repuatiton means everything.

    I have heard repeatedly that upon graduation, it is important to make your facebook, myspace, and twitter accounts more “job appropriate.” I think this is very true, and although it somewhat feels like an invasion of privacy, it is something that is going to happen. If you have inappropriate pictures or wall posts on your social media sites, it is time to take them down. As much as everyone wants to complain about this, it’s happening.

  5. bihrig says:

    It is incredible important to have valuable information appear when you Google your name. I don’t think a traditional resume is enough any more. I didn’t realize this until last semester when I took social media. There is so much people can find out about a person from searching the internet. Knowing that an employer will probably search me online means I have to build a positive professional relationship using social media. I had a very negative attitude about social media until recently, especially Twitter. I still think I have better things to do then sit at home online or blogging, but I am willing to do the basics if it means securing a job. Traditional resume is defiantly not enough anymore. Employers want to know more then your job history and education. They want to know what kind of things applicants do in their free time. Being visible online is vital to our careers, especially as new graduates.

  6. edean says:

    n_applegate- Thanks! I figured since this is out capstone class it might serve as useful. As PR students, we’re all aware of what social media is but I feel there is definitely a right and wrong way to use it. I’m glad we have these tools at our disposal because they are helpful in figuring out if your message is being heard.

    sferrer- Again, thanks for the props! I agree with you that they are great tools for our career development and by using them we can stay ahead of the game. We dedicate so much time in PR towards developing client brands but we need to start with ourselves!

    ekozak- That’s great that your articles come up. You have a solid foundation for building your presence already. For some reason, everything I wrote at the Arizona Republic is not present on my Google list. I agree that an e-portfolio is a great idea (and now almost essential) for recent and upcoming graduates.

  7. edean says:

    mkuhl- Even if it is gymnastic scores from your teenage years, it’s still going to be interesting to employers. Although it’s not appropriate for a resume, it shows you have experience working on a team.
    Like your roommate, I started using my middle name in everything and wish I had thought of it sooner. As far as the importance of reputation, I think that is just as relevant to a PR student or professional. I also agree that your social media outlets should be kept “job appropriate” but I feel that should be done the moment you start using them. Always keep the mindset that whatever content you produce will be seen by people who matter in your professional career.

  8. edean says:

    bihrig- I completely agree with you. I believe a traditional resume is still important but we can’t expect to stand out by them. Don’t worry, most people have a negative feel towards social media sites like Twitter when they don’t understand the extent of what can be done with them. It is simply another tool to use to your advantage to gain information, network and build this positive online presence that we’re talking about. I truly believe that by staying ahead of the curve you can make the recession work for us as we reach graduation.

  9. cgharai says:

    Social media is working for me. I established my company December of last year, and due to the lack of time dedication and funding, I have been using social media to keep my name/brand on the surface of “what’s going on.” For example, I have established groups and pages using Facebook, began establishing a reputation for myself/ and my services using Brightkite, Twitter and Yelp, LinkedIn, Delicious and Stumbleupon. One of two of my domains have been successfully created and launched, I am currently waiting on to finish being developed. I have not been using other social platforms besides LinkedIn to market myself during my job search. Applying to different markets in the US right now, I want my information to remain consistent.

    It is harder then you think, to be “so” connected. This post was very informative, I wish I was taught this prior to the current “transitional stage” of my life. It would have been easier to learn it, then teach this to myself.

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