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October 15, 2014 / achanguris

Taking Social Media from Personal Interest to Professional Endeavor

I’ll confess: I’m an over-preparer.

When I was invited to be a guest on Carrie Kerpen’s All the Social Ladies podcast I received a list of possible questions, so I sat down and wrote responses to each of them. One question we didn’t get to cover went a little something like this:

What advice would you give to a young woman just about to get into the social media field?

Ah, where to begin?

First, I’d highly recommend getting your personal social media profiles in order. If you expect a brand to trust you with its social media handles, you’d better be able to show you know what you’re doing on your personal accounts.

I’m not just talking about getting rid of those keg stand photos on Facebook or the tweets from your last visit to Victoria’s Secret (true story). I mean using your personal accounts to help others, to engage and demonstrate you know social media isn’t all about YOU. It can be as simple as sharing interesting links with your followers through your own tweets or retweets (or posts/shares/etc.).

Second, if you’re not writing on a regular basis (online – I’m not talking term papers), start now. It doesn’t even need to be public, really. Write blog posts about a topic you love, then write a few tweets and Facebook posts you could use to drive traffic to the blog. If you make it public you can test the tweets and posts to see what approaches convert more readers, but even if it’s private you’re practicing your writing skills and developing a portfolio you can share with potential employers.

All the Social Ladies Quote 2

Third, don’t wait for an opportunity to find you; go get it. Try volunteering for a local non-profit that could use some help with their social media efforts. Whether you learned the ins and outs of social media in a classroom or by trial and error in the real world, show what you know in a meaningful, professional way.

Fourth, get and stay plugged in to the ways social media is growing and changing. This field shifts constantly, from new rules on established channels (like those ever-present algorithm changes on Facebook) to new channels that pop up (and might be a great opportunity if your audience is there). You’ll never really know it all, but don’t use that as an excuse.

I use Twitter to keep up with the constant change. I follow some smart, helpful industry leaders along with aggregators like Mashable and Social Media Examiner I also follow some great Twitter chats like #hcsm, #blogchat and #getrealchat (I’m often a lurker). Those chats have connected me with peers who’ve helped me along the way, whether they realize it or not.

Lastly, challenge yourself. Don’t just laugh or be aghast at the social media crisis du jour, ask yourself how you’d handle it. Before complain about how awful the service is at your cell phone company/cable retailer/restaurant/etc., ask yourself how you’d respond to a critical post if you were the person responsible for that corporate account (yes, there are people behind those accounts). When you see a new social channel or a change to an established one, ask yourself what kind of business should be jumping on board or how you’d recommend a business adjust to the latest change. Be able to support your argument with sound logic.

Overall, the best way to learn how to be a social media professional is to get your hands dirty and do it. There’s no one stopping you. Start now.


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