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As an educator I’m always on the lookout for things that will help my students be successful. I think it’s vital that they develop a strong social media presence, given that they’re pursuing Internet Marketing degrees, though I believe the same also holds true for students in other disciplines.
Why All The Fuss About Social Media?
Obviously, the easiest way for graduates who want to become Social Media Managers to prove their abilities is through their own social networks. But beyond even that obvious example, employers are increasingly relying on social media as an integral part of the hiring process – both in finding potential new employees and evaluating their suitability for the job.
Employers are using sites like Marketing Pilgrim to find potential candidates, and they’re also using social channels like the Facebook Marketplace and the specialized recruiting tools on LinkedIn.
Once potential employees are identified, companies can use social media to learn more about the candidates, highly valuable information that was difficult to obtain pre-social media. In fact, Career Builder says that 80% of potential employers will do an online search using a candidate’s name to find information. And what they’re finding apparently isn’t always positive; 43% of employers say they have rejected a candidate based on something they found online.
|Marketing Pilgrim’s Social Channel is proudly sponsored by Full Sail University, where you can earn your Masters of Science Degree in Internet Marketing in less than 2 years. Visit FullSail.edu for more information.|
Starting Tips for Using Social Media as a Student
Students sometimes think they don’t need to be ‘in’ social networks as professionals because they haven’t yet begun their career. In fact, it’s advisable even for those just starting their educational journey to start social profiles as a way to begin building their online reputation – and as a learning tool.
Here are my basic suggestions to students:
- Set up a LinkedIn account. Because LinkedIn is generally considered to be more professional than other social sites, it’s a good place to begin establishing connections with others in your industry, as shown in this overview of using LinkedIn as a student. (Bonus tip for students – use the Reading List by Amazon to share books you’re currently reading for your classes.)
- Most students have a Facebook account, and many have set the privacy settings to prevent anyone other than friends from seeing posts, which is good. However, since potential employers may be searching for profiles, a better strategy is to learn to control individual pieces of content. This way, you can share more personal information with those closest to you, but still have something for a recruiter to see.
- Twitter is a great place to build connections with (and learn from) industry leaders. It is also perhaps the easiest place to learn by example what people find important.
Obviously, having the profiles is just a start. You must actively participate to build up a base of content from which potential employers can begin to learn about you. However, there are a few important factors to consider first:
- Start with a strategy. How do you want to be perceived? Do you want to share some work-appropriate personal information (aka be ‘profersonal’ per Jason Seiden) or be only professional? Your online reputation is what others think of you. It will be built, at least in part, by what you’re sharing and promoting online.
- Follow the leaders. The best way to learn how leaders in your field share on social media is to connect with them and watch. See what they post, share and promote, and try to understand why.
- Be consistent. A strong personal brand establishes you as a credible professional. Creating a strong brand requires that you be fairly consistent across different platforms so that it’s easy for people to identify you.
- Don’t be a stalker – for long. It’s perfectly fine to take some time to establish the ground rules of different social networks, but at some point you must actually contribute to make it work for you.
My final word of advice to students is simply this: Learn to use social media effectively to further your ability to reach your goals.
Rob Croll is Department Chair for the Internet Marketing Bachelor’s degree program at Full Sail University, and the Course Director for Search Engine Optimization there. He also owns Marlannah Digital Marketing, a consulting firm that works with small- to medium-sized businesses and non-profits. Rob was named one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter and has had numerous articles published both online and in print on a variety of Internet marketing topics. You can follow Rob on Twitter @rcroll.