Social media is a great way to stay connected with family and friends, and get connected with new ones and expand your long-term professional opportunities. Thus, here are 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Social Media:
1. Be Friendly, Look Around, and Stay Engaged. Do a little research and watch how people interact with others, then jump in and join the conversation! Comment on blogs, make @replies on Twitter, and introduce yourself to someone via Facebook. When you speak for the first time, say “Hi (insert first name)” and mention something that is an area of interest for them and highlight your mutual interests. Remember, most people’s favorite word is their own name and their favorite topic is themselves.
2. Choose Your Network and Friends Wisely. While it’s great to connect with people and actively engage with them, know that everyone isn’t going to be your friend, nor is their worth to your network the same. Don’t just add friends to have a huge friends/followers list. Work on having a connection with all those you’re connected to and make the investment in your network by choosing its members carefully.
3. Follow Up. Your word is your bond, even in social media. If you say you’re going to do something: Do it. If you can’t meet a deadline, make an appointment, or keep a prior commitment: Let people know that in advance. Also, if someone says they’ll get back to you, or that they’d like for you to get in touch with them at a later date: Send a reminder and follow-up to make sure you don’t get misplaced from someone’s busy schedule.
4. Apply the “Front Page of the Newspaper Test”. Though the concept of newspapers and the physical front pages of them are becoming an antiquated idea, the concept of “The Public Eye” is not. Though the throng of “reality TV shows” would have you believe otherwise, “all news isn’t good news”. Before you publish something online to a social media outlet, think “What would my mom/dad/loved one whose opinion I really respect think if they saw this?”. Also, it’s not a bad idea to ask: “What would this look like if it were broadcast to the world?”. If it’s something that can be taken out of context, or make you look bad to potential employers or clients, think again about posting it. Know that nothing is “private” if you put it out there, regardless of whatever “safety controls” that are offered on various social networks. If it’s there, it can be leaked, so if you don’t want EVERYONE to know something, don’t post it!
5. Google Yourself and Protect Your Reputation. Censor yourself (see #4) and edit as necessary. Consider the fact that everything you do, say, or upload to the internet can be archived and potentially displayed in perpetuity (i.e. forever), so remember that when you upload content and make comments. Google yourself once a month and see what others are finding out about you.
6. Take Control of Your Personal Brand. Purchase your name as a domain name now if it’s available, and stake your claim to your name on all the social media networks available. Get control of the information that’s on the web about you, and do that by strategically posting comments on blogs, engaging in online communities, and being mindful about what people can find out about you by doing a Google search. As time progresses and you work on making more of a name for yourself down the road, you’ll appreciate having been proactive about your personal brand and the image you project to the online world.
7. Promote Yourself and Others. Start a blog hosted on your domain name, and start building your personal brand early. Include a nice, smiling photo of yourself, and lots of information about who you are on the “About” page, in addition to what’s the best way for people to get in touch and connect with you. Do a Twitter Search for a topic of interest to you, and find like-minded people, join related online communities, and comment on their blogs. When you see something you like, promote it and tell everyone why you love it!
8. Get LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great resource and provides a vast professional network that can mean job opportunities, internships, mentoring, career advice, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Fill out your profile with “future-oriented language” highlighting how your past experience has prepared you for future successes. Join groups and send personal messages when you invite people to join your network. Show that you know a little about the person, and highlight some areas of interest you both share.
9. Be flexibly adaptable. As soon as you master a social media application, it will surely change, so continue learning and surveying the landscape for new developments in social media. Find out what others are using and why they like it, and always be willing to try new things.
10. Think Long-Term. College is 4-6 years of fun and learning, but don’t forget to keep your end goal of being prepared to handle all of the responsibilities of adult life in mind in all of the decisions you make. Make social media choices that you can look back on years from now with a fun and familiar grin, instead of a shameful chagrin.
Kindra Cotton Bio:
As a Serial Entrepreneur, Technology & Social Media Enthusiast, and Jill of All Trades (and a Master of Two), Kindra Cotton channels her energies into her small business consulting enterprises specializing in brand marketing, market research, and strategic information consultancy.
When not working on one of her many entrepreneurial business ventures, the transplanted Nashvillian uses her years of expertise with the Internet and web-based technologies to provide resources and advice for online marketers and people looking to promote their brand on the web as Nashville’s Online Marketing Examiner for Examiner.com.
In her spare time (what little there is), she is working to receive her Certification in Search Engine Marketing, and will soon venture into the Career Services field as a Federal Employment Career Transition Coach.