By Isabelle Smith
Social Media is becoming an increasingly relevant form of business communication and marketing, especially within the recruitment industry. It is great tool for advertising your agency, sourcing new clients/ candidates and promoting your successes. And the best thing? It’s free. The problem is the separation of professional and personal – or lack thereof. It is common practice nowadays for companies to look at the digital footprint of the person they are dealing with, whether this be a recruiter looking at a candidate, a new client looking at a recruiter or even a supplier looking at the buyer. This is especially important if you are a new start up agency as you want to be introducing and establishing yourself to both potential clients and suppliers in the best possible light.
Your social media presence allows people to see who you are outside of the professional information that you have provided them, but you may not want them to be able to see this side of you – chances are you haven’t told your colleagues and clients about that one dodgy weekend in Magaluf, but if your Facebook is plastered with photos…
Of course, the line of professionalism changes with each different social media platform. For example, lot of the content included on your Facebook page shouldn’t really be posted on your LinkedIn Page. We’ve put together a quick guide for remaining as professional as possible on social media:-
- A PICTURE TELLS A THOUSAND WORDSIt is important to be careful with what images you are posting online. LinkedIn is an entirely professional site, wholly aimed at linking businesses and colleagues alike. In this case, your profile picture should be completely appropriate and professional as you are representing yourself as a part of your company. This doesn’t necessarily mean forking out for a selection of headshots; it can be as easy as using your phone camera and a blank background. Even better would be a photograph including your agency’s logo. Whilst Facebook is a social media site, it is likely one of the first places that a potential supplier or employer would look in order to find out a bit more about the person they are dealing with. It is important to think about how professionally attractive you look to a potential business partner when dancing on the bar after a few too many on a Saturday night – this is probably a good laugh for your friends but isn’t something that you want your colleagues, bosses or potential clients to see. Ideally you should keep your entire profile as private as possible so that you can still use your social media personally and not worry about your new client seeing more of you than is considered appropriate.
- WOULD YOU REALLY TELL YOUR BOSS THAT?One of the biggest social media mistakes that we are seeing at the moment is people writing about work online. Not everyone loves their jobs, but posting that information onto a social media platform is never the answer. Even if you aren’t friends with work colleagues on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, it doesn’t mean that they can’t see this information. What used to be six degrees of separation is now closer to three, so you never know whose girlfriend’s uncle’s cousin happens to be connected with you on various social media platforms. The only cases where talking about work online could be acceptable would be congratulating a colleague or client for an accomplishment, but even in those situations it is important to make sure you are keeping it professional. The bottom line is if you wouldn’t be happy to say it to your boss, don’t say it on social media. You should also be aware about posting negative comments/ remarks about previous employers/ colleagues, or even service providers within your industry.
- CONTROVERSY KILLED THE CATIt is good practice to remain neutral on social media when sharing links/pages/ articles that may be considered inappropriate or sensitive. If you are choosing to share content publicly, make sure it is working to your advantage and isn’t tarnishing your reputation, or the reputation of the company you work for. It’s also important to remember that you cannot control the tone in which online comments/ statuses etc..are read in; with no tone of voice or facial expressions to accompany the comment, what you are saying can translate into a rude, inappropriate remark. You cannot control the way in which people are receiving your online presence and once again, you never know who is looking. Unfortunately, you also cannot regulate how your online presence is being received, and who it is being seen by so it is essential that you aren’t liking or passing comment on any controversial, defamatory or other legally dubious statements, photos or content. Keep your online presence appropriate and impartial.
- LIAR LIARBelieve it or not, your social media profiles have now become almost equally as important as your CV and references. Just as you wouldn’t lie on your CV, you shouldn’t lie on any social media either, especially LinkedIn. The information that you provide/ post about your employment history should be kept consistent with your CV; of course the information you are including can be refined and adapted depending on which platform you are posting it on, but there shouldn’t be any major differences. It’s also not a good idea to brag on social media about professional accomplishments if you haven’t got the accreditations to back it up. Make sure your profiles aren’t selling you short. LinkedIn is a great platform for endorsements and real world recommendations from former colleagues or business partners, so use these to your advantage.
- PROTECT YOUR PRIVACYIn short, the best way to ensure that you aren’t running into any problems resulting from your digital footprint is to keep all of your personal profiles as private and secure as possible. Having your profiles locked down and fairly invisible may seem too extreme, but you can never be too careful and if it’s the difference between creating a partnership with a valuable client and making placements, or being discarded due to unprofessional online behaviour. These days, it is becoming increasingly common to use an alias for your social media profiles – a first name and middle name rather than surname, for example. This is a really good way to disguise and distinguish your personal life from your professional persona. It’s likely that if someone is looking at you online, they will start with your LinkedIn and then move to alternative, more personal social media pages so if you can separate them from the outset, you are already one step ahead.
It is absolutely your prerogative to display whatever you would like on your personal social media accounts, providing that either there is no trace back to your agency or what you are posting is appropriate and non-threatening to your business. It is also important to consider who you are connected with across all platforms of social media, because ultimately you can never be certain who is looking at your pages. It’s not all doom and gloom though – when used appropriately, social media is a significant and cost effective way to gain brand exposure for your agency, and ultimately help to grow your business and land those all-important placements.