Developing a good presence on social media can help your social network and also develop your career. However, before you dive in there are a few pointers which can help you make the most of your time.
1 Know your audience
Who do you need to reach you to help you do your job? For example, if you’re a corporate partnership fundraiser you might need to reach CSR directors incorporates. Start following them to see what content they engage with. Are they interested in certain topics? Do videos and photos, statistics or certain news stories pique their interest?
2 Choose your channels
There are a lot of social networks out there and it’s easy to spend a huge amount of time signing up for different ones, creating numerous profiles and chasing followers. The golden rule is to be selective. So if you find that the CSR directors you need to reach are mainly on LinkedIn then that is where you should focus on building your network. Twitter and LinkedIn are especially good places to build relationships with journalists.
3 Build an effective profile
Keep it brief
The description of what your organisation does should be brief and to the point
Lead with your expertise
You want people to know you’re leaders in your field. How can you demonstrate this?
Use a strong photo
Get a decent, professional looking profile picture.
4 Be inquisitive
Build your network by following key stakeholders who can help you. Use Twitter lists to group people talking about the same topic and to build your own network of reference. If you see other interesting lists build your network by subscribing to it.
5 Contribute to the social networking community
Social networking demands that you respond, share, like or comment on what you read, watch and hear. The two-way process of sharing, liking, responding and commenting means you can build up a dialogue with your followers and respond to their needs.
In order to maximise your presence on a social networking website, you have to contribute frequently and regularly to the community. That means keeping your profile up to date, sharing relevant information, posting comments on other people’s posts and intervening in debates as they emerge. This doesn’t need to take up a lot of time. Even 5-10 minutes a day should help.
6 Timing is everything
Social networking is a fast-moving, time-consuming medium. The most effective social networkers respond and comment quickly on announcements and events relevant to them. It’s no good posting an insightful comment on a particular blog two months after the blog has been posted. Things move on.
Set up alerts. Follow hashtags. Keep your social media dashboard (e.g. Hootsuite) open at all times. Keep an eye on ‘trending topics’ and key policy and media debates as they emerge. Make comments on them if they’re relevant to your agenda or might be of interest to your followers. If you’re one of the first to respond, then you can direct the discussion – and you may find people start responding directly to you and commenting on your posts.
7 Don’t overshare
There is a temptation with social networking sites to post a lot of information and to appear ‘busy’. Whilst it is crucial to keep your profile refreshed and to be active in the network, there is nothing more irritating than organisations or individuals posting too much information – often on topics that are of no interest to their audiences. Remember that everything you share is in the public domain.