Top 10 Social Media Mistakes

Professionals at all steps in their career are leveraging social media to develop their professional profiles. This unfortunately doesn’t mean that everyone has a critical literacy on how their behaviors on social media can reflect poorly on them when they try to network or apply for a job.

 It’s never too late to start implementing good habits, and that means eliminating bad habits from your social media presence. Here are ten common mistakes professionals make on social media that you can stop doing to immediately improve the quality of your professional social media presence. 

1. Posting Irresponsible or Poor-Quality Content

Recruiters search social media to immediately get a sense of a candidate’s behavior. Typically, you have two options. First, professionally maintain your personal social media accounts at all times. That means, at minimum, to present yourself in the best light possible for employers. Second, if you have an extremely personal social media account, clean it or lock it as private, and set up an additional professional account.  

The concern isn’t simply that you’ve posted incriminating or just unprofessional information. Job recruiters might not necessarily care that you posted drunk pictures of yourself ten years ago. But they do care that, in the present, you don’t have the wherewithal to remove these photos from public view. Likewise, if you post controversial opinions or engage in highly charged, polarizing debates, it may turn off recruiters who want to promote a harmonious work environment.

2. Never Updating Your Profiles…

If you do have a professional social media account, it doesn’t help if you never update it. We are all guilty of this, of course, and in certain jobs this isn’t much of an issue. But in terms of networking, some people don’t want to form a relationship with someone who isn’t active in the field. And that doesn’t include additional problems with professional profiles that do not include current employment information or updated skills and endorsements.

 ...Or, Updating Too Much

On the flip side of that coin, if you do nothing but post content on your social media all day, it's likely that you aren’t really being productive elsewhere. Don’t send the signal that you spend 95% of your day working on social media unless you’re job specifically involves doing just that. And, of course, avoid presenting repetitive daily information with no filter or sense of audience.

3. Providing Incoherent Branding

One of the biggest benefits of building a social media presence is controlling the presentation of your brand. Developing a personal brand is your chance to show off who you are as a professional, what you have accomplished, and what you want to achieve. Messaging, content, and look are all important for presenting a professional package.

But if your Facebook is all business, and your Twitter is all football or nightlife, then the chances that people interested in networking actually coming across your profile reduces. If you are going to have professional social media, then make sure that you are presenting your best on all your channels.

4. Lacking Professional Focus

Some people mix personal and professional topics on their social media channels, and that is fantastic for industries where the personal and the professional don’t necessarily clash (or, in some cases, where they actually enhance one another). Your social media doesn’t have to be all business (and it shouldn’t!) but try to create some separation between your personal life and your professional life if they are radically different.  

When these aspects are more distinct, you can focus your professional branding into a more coherent message based on your goals and your industry. You also reduce the chances of sending mixed messages by making your professional platform a personal or political one.

5. Engaging in Poor Networking

Social media was custom built for networking. Some platforms work much better for this (LinkedIn, Facebook) if you understand the norms and rules of the platform. 

For example, one thing to understand is that “networking” is not “connecting with hundreds of people that you don’t know”. It is reaching out to people who share goals and interests, and with whom you can have a productive, mutually beneficial, and friendly relationship. 

When you network, find people that work in your industry (or really, people who do things you find interesting). Reach out to them, send them a message, offer advice or ask a question. Offer something of value, and show that you are interested in a relationship. LinkedIn in particular promotes strategic networking, as frequent, unwanted connecting can result in restrictions to your account.

 It also helps if your content generation and branding is on point: potential networks can see that you are the real deal, and not someone just trying to get something from them. 

6. Posting the Same Content on Multiple Platforms

One of the biggest benefits of building a social media presence is controlling the presentation of your brand. Developing a personal brand is your chance to show off who you are as a professional, what you have accomplished, and what you want to achieve. Messaging, content, and look are all important for presenting a professional package.

But if your Facebook is all business, and your Twitter is all football or nightlife, then the chances that people interested in networking actually coming across your profile reduces. If you are going to have professional social media, then make sure that you are presenting your best on all your channels.

7. Lacking Professional Focus

Some people mix personal and professional topics on their social media channels, and that is fantastic for industries where the personal and the professional don’t necessarily clash (or, in some cases, where they actually enhance one another). Your social media doesn’t have to be all business (and it shouldn’t!) but try to create some separation between your personal life and your professional life if they are radically different. 

When these aspects are more distinct, you can focus your professional branding into a more coherent message based on your goals and your industry. You also reduce the chances of sending mixed messages by making your professional platform a personal or political one.

8. Engaging in Poor Networking

Social media was custom built for networking. Some platforms work much better for this (LinkedIn, Facebook) if you understand the norms and rules of the platform.  

For example, one thing to understand is that “networking” is not “connecting with hundreds of people that you don’t know”. It is reaching out to people who share goals and interests, and with whom you can have a productive, mutually beneficial, and friendly relationship. 

When you network, find people that work in your industry (or really, people who do things you find interesting). Reach out to them, send them a message, offer advice or ask a question. Offer something of value, and show that you are interested in a relationship. LinkedIn in particular promotes strategic networking, as frequent, unwanted connecting can result in restrictions to your account.

It also helps if your content generation and branding is on point: potential networks can see that you are the real deal, and not someone just trying to get something from them. 

9. Posting the Same Content on Multiple Platforms

If you run a blog, it is OK to post a link across your social media channels. If you write a short response to something, or share an interesting link, it is most definitely not OK to spam it across those channels. “Spam” is the correct word here, because anyone who follows you on multiple social media sites will get spammed with the same content multiple times a day, most likely to their irritation. Pay attention to your audience on each channel and share accordingly.

10. Exhibiting Antisocial Behavior

It is called social media for a reason.  

This means two things. First, make connections. Offer value. Provide insight, commentary, and help. Be a good community member.

Second, don’t engage in online debates or harassment. Don’t “troll”. Don’t make connections to random people that don’t know you and don’t work in your field to inflate your network. 

Third, exhibit traits that don’t contribute to working with others. You may not bother anyone posting long walls of negative text criticizing everything under the sun, but potential co-workers don’t want to work with people like that.

Like real life, always be friendly, and always be polite, and always contribute.

Not Building a Linking Strategy

Maintaining a coherent brand is great, but it doesn’t matter if people can’t find your platform outside of a single media channel. If you run a blog, a reader should be able to find a link to the blog across all your social media. Your website and LinkedIn should also link to all social media (including your blog, or any long-form writing you do on Medium or similar outlets).

And, when you create content or comment on someone else’s content, always mention and link to that content. Make sure that you share links with other content creators as you engage them. It’s great help for the people reading, and it gives a little SEO love to those creators who might also need the spotlight.

Making it All About You

The biggest misunderstanding of social media is that it is all about us. Think of social media as a digital conversation. If you aren’t talking with people, sharing ideas, and contributing to other people’s wants or needs, you are not properly maintaining good social media practices. 

Write about your own experience, but direct professional insight outwards. Provide helpful information. Develop relationships with others based on community and assistance, rather than reporting on your own life. 

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