Social media as defined in the Oxford dictionary as cited in the ONE page of the University of Leicester website are websites and applications used for social networking. In order to gain better insights of the term, I went ahead to inquire what makes a social network. According to dictionary.com, social network can be “a network of friends, colleagues, and other personal contacts” or an “online community of people with a common interest who use a website or other technologies to communicate with each other and share information, resources, etc.” or “website or online service that facilitates this communication.” The words in bold fonts are so for emphasis. Perhaps, it might be safe to further define social media as an online community of people, friends, colleagues, personal contacts who use websites or other technologies to communicate and share information and other resources amongst each other or a website or online that facilitates this communication. It is interesting to note that at no point in the above descriptions was a business or organization mentioned. Why then did organizations, companies, governments, businesses and even religious organizations foray into social media?
IS SOCIAL MEDIA JUST SOCIAL?
The knowledge gathered during the Online Networking and Employability (ONE) awards noted that if the social media is effectively used, it amongst others:
- Afford better control over online presence
- Is a veritable networking tool
- A good platform for job hunting and recruitment
Based on the aforementioned, little wonder why many organizations take the social media very seriously as their online presence provides an appreciable quantum of goodwill. Hence, a firm control of it cannot be overemphasized. For example, PriceWaterhouseCoopers have formidable presence on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Guaranty Trust Bank, a Nigerian local bank has taken social media beyond mere interactions between acquaintances by their recent launch of social banking. Many banking transactions can now be carried out through the Facebook medium. Beyond networking, employers’ presence and recruitment drive using social media requires that users of social media develop effective online personal brands especially for career advancement, job-hunting amongst others. Below excerpt fully captures the neo-importance accorded the social media for recruitment drives. An example of a survey carried out on companies mentioned in the ONE Award program revealed that 45%, 80% and 50% of the companies use twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to find talents respectively.
To further underscore the importance of social media for career advancement, the Leicester ONE Awards further highlights seven key concepts (7Cs) to digital literacy which will positively influence our good use of the internet and social media especially for career advancement. It is believed that if these concepts are put to good use, we will be able to use the social media to its full potentials. It will also remind us that the social media is beyond a medium for interaction and making connection to just family and friends. “
- Changing – understand and adapt to new technologies for the purpose of career building.
- Collecting – the ability to source, manage and retrieve career information and resources.
- Critiquing – understand the nature of online career information and resources, and analyzing usefulness for your career.
- Connecting – build relationships and networks online that can support your career development.
- Communicating – interact effectively across a range of different platforms, to understand the genre and netiquette associated with different types of interaction and to use them appropriately within the context of career.
- Creating – create online content that effectively represents you and your career online
- Curating – store and retrieve online information and mange your digital footprint and online networks to support your career.”
I learned that while effective use of social media can enhance career advancement and employability, it would also appear to be a double-edged sword. A wrong or misused of this tool can say a lot about your personality and possibly impair or damage you chances of landing a job. The ONE award taught me about what to Do and what not to do with social media. Aptly stated below are the guiding principles as highlighted: Dos
- Do connect with colleagues as this will help your develop wider networks and share information.
- Do only post information you would be happy with an employer seeing
- Do follow employers you are interested in
- Do clean up your profile (remove any embarrassing and revealing pictures)
- Do manage your privacy settings (be aware of who can see your profile)
- Do create a full profile
- Do update your profiles when your information changes (new job, new name etc.)
- Don’t swear, make rude jokes or share inappropriate information
- Don’t moan on social media about your job/colleagues/organization
- Don’t try to follow or connect with anyone and everyone (be specific)
- Don’t harass people (if someone doesn’t respond to a message or post they are probably not interested in connecting with you. Don’t keep messaging, it will make them angry.
I have learned a lot through this program and thought it wise to share. It has availed me the opportunity to see my various mistakes and I am making efforts to correcting them. I have also seen the potential consequences of these erstwhile innocent errors and I am determined to clean up and correct many of my past mistakes. I hope to now be very mindful of my language, image, interactions, connections, discussions, posts, broadcasts, associations, followings and postings I put there in the cyberspace. I trust you will take a second look at yours too.
As a recap, ensure you are projecting the right image you would want your employers to see, research your employers and be current about industry trends and job opportunities, use your blog and other social media presence as career advancing and development tools, connect to people and organizations that will further your career and positively impact your digital footprint. Remember, your career and image are now at your fingertips, do well to put out the image you would want your employer or potential employers to see. Until the next time; find, aim and shoot at whatever life brings your way.