Make all that time spent on Instagram work for you.
Funny memes, beauty tutorials and home décor inspiration—social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are addictive spaces for sharing all kinds of content. And for savvy self-promoters, they're also tools for creating a memorable personal brand, networking with other professionals and improving job prospects. Use these tips to help your career flourish.
1. Discover your niche
What do you have to offer? Think about exactly what makes you unique—from your skill set to your interests—and tailor your social posts to highlight those things. "In my case, I talk about confidence coaching, being an entrepreneur and the dynamics of being a self-employed person," says Rebecca Perrin, a life coach and digital expert. She also shares her personal life. "People hire employees and contractors they like and increasingly they'll look to Instagram to see if they like you," she says. "They'll look at your feed and say, 'She has a dog that's the same breed as mine' or 'We both travelled to Tulum last year.'" Perrin suggests sharing 60 percent business-related information and 40 percent personal deets.
2. Plan ahead
Sure, social media may look spontaneous, but true mavens actually plan their content ahead of time so it flows. Sara Koonar, co-founder of Platform Media and Management, which specializes in influencer management, branded content and social media strategy, loves the Planoly app because she can pre-schedule her posts and see the overall look of her account. "I think of my social feed like a mini magazine," she says. She breaks up her content so that she never ends up with similar posts next to each other and she evenly covers her areas of interest—her dog, work, restaurants, fashion and more.
Perrin also recommends using software like Canva to create custom dimensions for your feed and Instagram stories and choose brand colours, fonts, logos and graphics. Again, this level of planning takes extra time but is worth the effort. "Things like memes and quotes do really well to reinforce your messaging," she says. "I also use VSCO for putting filters on photos and making sure everything looks nice and seamless."
3. Build your community—and engage with it
Networking is a powerful tool in real life, and the same goes for the world of social media. Make friends and professional contacts by liking and commenting on photos and sending messages—and be sure to respond when other people do the same.
For those with a small following, there are a few tricks that will attract like-minded people. "If you want somebody to follow you, like two of their photos and comment on one," says Perrin. "That's a good way of raising your hand and getting them to notice you." She also recommends the strategic implementation of hashtags to help other users find your content. "Your most impactful hashtag, the one with the most followers, should be your first hashtag," she says. "And your least competitive hashtag, the one that doesn't have as many people playing in that space, should be your last hashtag." Check out this video by Natalie Ellis of BossBabe for more info:
4. If you're looking for work, say so
Don't be shy! Let your community know if you're on the hunt for new opportunities. "Generally, Canadians are very conservative; it's not in our nature to ask for work," says Perrin. "But my advice—especially on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn—is to be transparent and write a call to action." If you need a job or are hoping for new freelance contracts or specific experiences, write a brief post that lists your interests and skills and directs people to message you with leads. You can even end your post with a specific question that you want people to answer.
5. Remember: You don't have to share everything
"I think the number one question people ask me is how much should I share?" says Koonar. The answer? It's totally up to you. But know that it's possible to create the appearance of transparency without giving away all the dirty details of your life. "If you were to look at my social media, you'd think you know everything," she says. "I share my business, my dog and my nephews. But there is a lot that I don't share, too." You're allowed to keep your romantic relationships, your kids or your messy house private if you choose—especially if you're trying to curate a certain image of yourself.
6. Beware of posting sensitive content
What you share is up to you, but religious or political opinions, nude photos, snotty tweets and angry rants can live forever through the magic of screen capping—and a potential employer might see certain content as a red flag. "I'm always shocked when I see people driving while recording Instagram stories, or post themselves sick after a night of drinking," says Koonar. "An employer might look at it and think, 'Is this someone I want representing my company?'" The same goes for angry or malicious content. "If something happened in your personal life or at work, jumping on Twitter to gossip about it or throw someone under the bus may get people worried about working with you in the future," she says.
With these tips from Koonar and Perrin, the world of social media is your oyster! Take some time to craft your personal brand, then get out there and show people what you're made of.