How to get your personal social media presence right for professional gain

Steven Raeburn on the principles of social mediaSteven Raeburn on the principles of social media

According to the Government Office for Science report, Foresight Future identities - Changing identities in the UK, sixty percent of internet users are members of a social network. That is a jump from only 17 per cent in 2007, when desktop internet at work was fully established, but use of Twitter, LinkedIn and face book was less entrenched.

That figure alone tells you all you need to know about the direction of travel, and when you marry that up with the surge in 'second screening', which concludes that between 75 per cent and 85 per cent of TV viewers use other devices while watching, the value of an engaged, active social media presence for your business is clear to see. For the foreseeable future, until the market is saturated, the reality is that your clients will have 1 to 1 engagement with a screen.

The report concludes that the boundaries between social and work identities are becoming blurred. Maintaining a “business only” social media profile utilises only a small proportion of your online identity, and the new reality is that social media should not be looked on as a work activity; rather, it is just one more tool in your armoury of communication tools, on a par with face to face meetings, networking, emails, phone calls and any other profile raising event such as speaking at a conference, writing an article or being quoted in the press. Nobody else can assume responsibility for it other than yourself.

People are accustomed to switching seamlessly between the internet and the physical world, and use social media to conduct their lives in a way that dissolves the divide between online and offline identities, the report says, and those people are your clients, colleagues, peers and sources of business. If they are all communicating this way and you are not, you will soon be the last one standing in an empty room.

Some tips - what can you do?

If you haven’t already, create LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles.

-Create and expand your personal reputation
-Platform your skills to clients, current and future
-Be seen as the expert you are

How do you do it?

-Become a commentator
-Become the leading commentator in your area
-Update your website with articles, features and comment pieces you have written
-Write comments or features on any new cases you encounter
-Keep it updated with details of any professional events, conferences or addresses you are planning to attend
-Post any relevant professional views

Some principles to build and sustain an audience:

-Challenge, when appropriate
-Engage in crosstalk
-Exhibit your knowledge
-Strut your stuff.

Each interaction cascades online and exposes you, your brand and your insight to countless more people, including current and potential clients.

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