Managing your Social Media Footprint in the Digital Age

In an ever competitive job market, your online presence is becoming an important part of the interviewing process. Employers aren’t necessarily trying to “dig up dirt” on you as much as they are trying to make sure you’re the right fit for the company. Dan Schawbel, author of “Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success,” told MSN News, “Over 90 percent of recruiters use social networks to review candidates’ backgrounds.”  It goes to show just how important your online reputation is. Follow these easy steps to make sure you’re marketing yourself correctly:

Photo by: Search Engine People Blog

Photo by: Search Engine People Blog

Google Yourself
Start out looking at what employers would see if they searched you. Google, Bing, Facebook, etc. search your name. It will give you a good feel for what kind of digital footprint you’re leaving behind, whether it be positive or negative. If you can’t find you, then chances are recruiters are going to have a tough time too. However, that’s not necessarily a good thing; you want to be found in search results, for positive reasons of course. Searching yourself will give you a look at how much work you have ahead of you to clean up your image and make yourself more searchable for all the right reasons.

Clean It Up
Delete inactive social media profiles. There’s probably no reason to keep that Myspace from middle school, completely stocked full with embarrassing pictures. Once you determine what profiles you want to keep, and you realize they aren’t as professional as you’d like them to be, you might have your hands full. One useful (and free) tool students can use is SimpleWash. This application looks through your Facebook and Twitter and shows you everything from photos, to things you’ve liked or tweeted that have questionable content. You can also search specific words for the app to scan through. After it finds everything, you can sift through and delete things you don’t want employers to see.

Facebook Privacy Settings
They may be a pain, but they are important to keep up-to-date on so what you don’t want people to see, stays private. Facebook’s Privacy Settings are often changing, so you need to keep up with it. There are a lot of handy features to manage your profile. One of my favorites, Timeline Review, allows you to approve or hide tagged photos or posts before they are seen on your timeline. Gone are the days where you have to worry about quickly untagging yourself from an unprofessional (or just flat out unattractive) photo your friend posted from a night out. If there is anything questionable, you have have the ability to decide what can be seen.

Twitter
There are a lot of ways you can use Twitter, however some of them are better than others when it comes to getting a job. It might seem funny to tweet from the bar, but it won’t seem that funny when you can’t find a job after graduation. If you lack the self-control that so many college kids do, consider protecting your tweets. People will request to follow you, giving you the control over who sees your tweets. If you have your tweets public, remember who your audience is. Have an objective and make sure your tweeting relevant information.

Be Smart and Think Before You Post
Once it’s on the internet, it’s out there for good. Don’t post something if you are unsure of how it may be received by the public. Try to stay away from anything controversial. You don’t know the beliefs and values of recruiters who may be looking at your profile, so don’t say anything that could potentially offend them. Refrain from posting about politics, religion or anything illegal. “Posting while emotional” is another trap some fall into. We all say things we regret when angry or upset, but don’t share it with your entire online community.

Manage Your Friends and Followers
We’ve all heard it before, but don’t accept friend or follower requests from people you don’t know. Know who you are connected to and what you’re sharing with them. You can classify your friends into groups and share content that is specifically for them. As you get older, you might want to go through and manage your friends and followers to make sure they’re still relevant connections.

It’s important to keep yourself professional, but that doesn’t mean you need to sound like a robot in the process. Be yourself! Employers want to see your personality and the positive accomplishments you’ve had. Sprucing up your social media profiles may seem like a daunting task, and it may take you a few days to look through all those pictures from your college years, but it will be well worth it when your profiles are recruiter ready.

Why You Should Become a Blogger

So, you want to break into the field of digital media? It can take time, but a great way to gain experience while still in school or working in another field is to start blogging. Choose a specific topic to write about, but try to not keep it too narrow. Maybe you will write about a hobby or passion you have, or maybe it will be a blog about trends in social media, anything that excites you. Once you decide on a category, the next step is to chose a platform.

Photo Credit: CollegeDegrees360

There are many free platforms you can choose like WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr. WordPress and Blogger are more traditional styles while Tumblr is more visually oriented. If your hobby is an outdoor hobby that can be accompanied my many photos, you may to use Tumblr. If your topic is more professionally orientated, Blogger or WordPress may be a better choice.

After that it is time to build up a community on Twitter. If you are not already on Twitter, set up an account. If you are, start following similar users and start reading their blogs, commenting, and retweeting and replying to their tweets. Think of similar bloggers as your allies, not your competition they may be your only audience for a while. Many seasoned Twitter experts  advocate for using your own name and having your profile picture be of yourself. It makes it more personal that way, people will be more likely to engage with a person, rather than an icon image.

Getting an audience takes patience and time, but does pay off. The trick is to publish often and regularly. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Once you are established, guest posts are a great way to get more exposure. I was lucky enough to land a guest post on a popular blog with a large readership and my post was re-syndicated on the PR Daily. This would have never happened if I published the same piece on my own blog.

So go ahead, let the world hear your voice speak with authority on a topic you know about. You may enjoy it even more than you though, and it might even land you a job.

When Networking: Think Locally!

Photo Credit: Graves Neal de Armond

When networking for a social media job, it is important to remember to not only “think globally”. I had been networking on Twitter for years and made many valuable connections, but most of them were living in different states and sometimes different countries than me. I also only met about a dozen of them IRL at a Tweetup in Salt Lake City, but it was for fun, not to further my career!

I started to see the error in my way and began attending local chapter meetings of the Social Media Club of Detroit (SMCD). It was there I met the person who does the social for Pure Michigan, who became a great mentor for me. He kept suggesting I attend an ongoing business networking lunch called LA2M, which was in my hometown Ann Arbor.  I always seemed to have a conflict on the day it was held, so I let months pass by without going.

Finally, one Wednesday my plans were expectantly cancelled so I took the opportunity to check it out. Wow. I was so glad I did. After listening to the speaker talk about mobile apps and eating a delicious lunch, I was able to talk to a lot of interesting people.

However, I have to say, the very best part was my chance to meet Derek Mehraban, the founder of LA2M and CEO of Ingenex. We chatted about my going to school for my Master’s in Public Relations and he mentioned he was looking for interns. I sat down for an interview with him the very next day, and was hired on the spot! He seemed impressed by my portfolio, but admitted it was like I had just fallen from the sky, he had no idea I existed until the day before even though I had built up a pretty substantial social media presence.  Again, my folly was focusing on a global level and overlooking the people that were doing what I was doing in my own town.

I also can’t stress enough the importance of networking with people face to face. Twitter is great, but nothing tops a personal connection with people in your industry, especially if you are job seeker. Job fairs, networking meetings, business workshops and seminars are all a great way to meet local people, in person. So make it a goal of yours to check out local networking opportunities, you may get a job out it.

Marketing via Instagram

Personally, I love reading how brands interact with their customers, and there’s tons of ways to do so with all of the social networks people are on these days, but one I never would have thought of?

You probably know what Instagram is, but if not, it is a photo-sharing mobile app that allows you to put vintage filters and effects on your photos. You can follow others, gain followers, “like” photos, and even hashtag them, making them searchable, just like hashtagging tweets. There are a few companies that are capitalizing on the uniqueness and flexibility of Instagram and using it for their marketing and branding, but letting users make it their own.

Tiffany & Co.
Last year, Tiffany’s launched an Instagram campaign that has the bonus of gaining three new filters for following them – Tiffany’s blue, peach, and black and white. This campaign also calls for users to post pictures of themselves with their significant other, tagged with the hashtag #TrueLovePictures.  Tiffany & Co has also set up a website that gives a live-updating website called True Love in Pictures that shows a selection of pictures from Instagram. Not only is this allowing Tiffany & Co. fans to take part in the experience, but it always gives them relevant content.

Comodo
A Latin American restaurant in NYC’s Soho, Comodo, has made the dining experience a social one, too, by inviting diners to take photos of their meals (as Instagrammers are wont to do) and tag it with #ComodoMenu, allowing their guests to “see” dishes and help them decide what they want, and seeing what their friends recommend.

There are a few other companies taking the relatively untouched marketing territory of Instagram, but a social media agency could do a lot to engage fans of a brand by making it interactive and letting fans engage creatively like this.

Peter Gabriel Remakes “Sledgehammer”… via Facebook

Peter Gabriel’s video for his hit song “Sledgehammer” came out in 1986, but to this date, MTV says it is the most-played video on the station, and was awarded the #4 slot in their list of “100 Greatest Music Videos of All Time”, in addition to winning tons of other awards and accolades.

Now, Peter Gabriel is remaking it – this time, with the help of Facebook. A tab on Gabriel’s Facebook fan page allows users to choose a scene, upload a video, or vote on existing entries. The idea is rather fascinating, especially given how big this video was (and is, I suppose!).

The contest is called “Grab Your Sledgehammer”, and is being done to celebrate the release of the 25th anniversary edition of Gabriel’s So album.

Personally, I love when artists allow for this kind of fan engagement, much with Ellie Goulding’s G+ Hangout album signing. This not only allows for artists to interact with fans easily, but will also introduce a younger generation of fans to artists like Peter Gabriel (and Genesis, by extension). Plus, it’s fun! It allows your fans to show their creativity and encourages them to interact with an entity or brand. These are the kind of campaigns that social media marketing companies should be striving to build! They’re interactive and fun to do, and people seem to get a lot out of the ability to be creative.

 

He Already Brought Sexy Back… Now He’s Bringing Back MySpace Too?

MySpace has long been outdated by newer social networks like the ever-dominating Facebook and Twitter. But a newly released video shows that Justin Timberlake has different plans for the forgotten website.

In 2011, Specific Media and Timberlake bought MySpace for $35 million. With a new design (similar to Pinterest), MySpace is almost unrecognizable from the site it once was. White backgrounds and horizontal scrolling give the website the facelift it sorely needed.

Also, instead of battling the social media giants, MySpace works with them. You can update Twitter or Facebook, find your friends from those networks and bring over videos and photos, all on the new MySpace.

Music also continues to be a huge part of the MySpace network, built with radio and playlist sharing. It returns to the original website goals of connecting artists with their fans.

When he purchased the failing website, Timberlake was quoted, saying: “There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. MySpace has the potential to be that place” (ABC News).

While a noble goal, the real question will be: can it work? Can MySpace make a comeback? Will people return to the social network they already left behind, especially with so many other new networks to join?

Its a question every social media agency will want the answer to. Will MySpace join Facebook and Twitter in the social media campaigns or will it just become the musical connection that Timberlake dreams it could be? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see….

Ellie Goulding Hosts Album Signing via Google+

I always like finding unconventional uses for social media, and British singer/songwriter Ellie Goulding wins the award for the day: today, she’ll become the first musician to host an album signing in a Google+ hangout.

From what I gather, there will be a form to “gain entry” to the event, and signed albums will be distributed to fans via snail mail. Admittedly, I was never much of a Google+ user, and Google’s effort to de-throne Facebook as the king of social media largely failed and Google+ looks more or less like a ghost town (seriously, when was the last time I logged in? Forever ago?), the “hangout” group video chat feature was one of the better things to come out of it, and I think Ellie has found an extremely creative use for it.

 

Ellie Goulding is no stranger to social media network-based interaction, either. The music video for her song “Anything Can Happen” was made with fan-submitted Instagram photos.

Both the Google+-based hangout and the crowdsourced music video are extremely clever uses of a social media platform, and exactly the kind of fan unconventional, fan-driven interaction that more social media marketing companies should be striving to drive! I’m not personally an Ellie Goulding fan, but much like composer Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir, it is something a broad range of people can participate in without having to travel anywhere, and something that people can point to and say “Yeah, I did that. And it was awesome.

Social Media Makes Customer Service Better

Something I found out firsthand this past week is confirmed by a press release last week via Garntner, a British technology research firm. Companies that don’t use social media to connect their customer base is the modern-day equivalent of ignoring customers’ phone calls!

 

 

“The dissatisfaction stemming from failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15 percent increase in churn rate for existing customers,” said Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

This issue will matter more to businesses the more widely-adopted social media and internet marketing becomes, as it is an fast, flexible way of reaching out to customers with concerns and advertising products.

The reason behind this? Businesses are more successful when they reach out to their customers in the channel they would like to be reached in, and more and more people are choosing to use social media for much more than talking to friends. Take, for instance, a company like Comcast. After a frustrating round of phone calls when my Internet was just about (it was really slow!) down, I decided to reach out through their customer service twitter, @ComcastCares. It was very friendly and fast, and got my issue taken care of roughly two days before the customer support phone number told me it would, and it was certainly a good demonstrator of the power of a good social media agency.

Chirpify to Expand Twitter

As Twitter quickly grows everyday, more and more opportunities slowly arise for Twitter to expand its domain. That is exactly what the latest startup, Chirpify, is doing by teaming up with PayPal. Chirpify will allow users to purchase anything from companies that also use Chirpify from their Twitter-enabled smartphones. In addition to shopping, users can transfer money to other users in a peer-to-peer transaction as long as both are using Chirpify. Beyond what is already done, Chirpify and future applications will only expand and demand more from social media marketing agencies as a necessity, not just an afterthought.

There are high hopes for Chirpify given the combination of a majority of cell phone sales being smartphones and people becoming more comfortable shopping through the internet. If Chirpify takes off, it would become the first major add-on to Twitter to expand it’s reaches as a social networking tool. With social networking sites quickly trying to expand their reaches by diversifying, it’s plausible they will eventually morph into near-identical entities. Seeing as how for example Facebook has its marketplace, which seems on par with Chirpify. If that were to happen, what would happen to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook? Would they possibly merge into one giant site? All we can do is wait and see.

Google+ Project: The Future of Social Networking?

Search engine giant Google launched their very own social networking service on Tuesday. The Google+ Project attempts to take a bite out of, and possibly rip the head off of menacing social networking superstar Facebook. Parasitic social networking sites are rapidly invading Google’s territory, as Facebook and Twitter absorb the traffic once reserved for Google. Social networks cripple Google’s infrastructure by depriving important information from the systems used to enhance Web search and Google AdWords.

Google+ Project surpasses any other social networking attempt made by the company in the past. Standard social sharing is taken to the next level, converting the typical social networking mass communication model into a more personalized small group, real-life communication experience.Users can create separate communication groups between friends, family, acquaintances, ex-boyfriends, frenemies, roommates, running buddies, co-workers, etc., into “Circles.” Circles is a Google+ Project feature uses a drag and drop method and simplifies standard practices used on other social networks to dividing friends, foes and co-workers into individual sharing networks.

The iPhone and Android mobile applications for Google+ are very similar to the web version of Google+, making sharing and communicating easy and fluid. Users won’t have to use four different applications to share information or chat with friends in different ways. The magnitude of Google’s Web and mobile presence is enough to make smaller start-ups and mobile developers quiver in their boots. Add the element of social sharing into the mix and Google could potentially destroy its social networking competitors.

Fusing together content sharing, group video chat, video and photo sharing and a mobile app is an impressive start for Google’s social networking future. Google+ Project combines Internet social sharing habits into one centralized place where messages can be controlled and disseminated in real-life fashion. Google+ Project is still in its field trial period and more innovations and changes are expected. It will be interesting to see if Google’s search engine marketing skills will match their social media marketing abilities.

New York Times: Another Try by Google to Take On Facebook

The Google+ Project