In Part 1 of our 'Getting In Gear' Series, we will explore the key questions & factors to consider when choosing where to build our social presence and exist online.
Where You Need To Be Online
With the waves and tides of different social media channels constantly shifting as they come to shore, the online networking ocean is becoming a vast and more complicated place to navigate every minute. The nature of technology is fast moving, and with that so too are the ways in which we interact and connect with others online.
Over recent years, a number of key, unique social media giants have established dominance over the market in their respective niches: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube, Pinterest, WhatsApp, WeChat, Baidu, Reddit, VK & more. Tech savvy and relationship driven young professionals are now tasked with managing their online identity across a multitude of channels and locations across the web, each with their own particular networks, content and opportunity. Depending on personal or professional relationship goals, those looking to connect with others who through social need to be able to discern which channels or social media sites are best suited to meeting their needs.
Who has the time to be everywhere online, all the time!?
Defining Your Networking Goals
As discussed in our recent post on defining your career goals, any element of effective personal branding or networking activity begins with identifying and understanding exactly what it is you want to achieve. Often the easiest way to define our goals is through a work-back approach; thinking ahead to what your life to look in 5-10 years and then breaking down the steps needed to get there.
Similarly, when it comes to networking goals, we need to understand to ask ourselves a number of key questions:
- Who are the people we would like to meet?
- What kinds of relationships do we want to build with them?
- Why build these relationships?
For example, a recent business school graduate may be interested in developing a career in high corporate finance. They would likely benefit and learn from building relationships with established professionals working in the financial sector, so focusing on sites where finance professionals are active such as LinkedIn and Twitter can create new opportunities for them to connect and learn from seasoned professionals in their industry. In contrast, an aspiring photographer or videographer may look to develop
Platform Selection Criteria
Once you have better defined the goals of your social networking activity, it's time to identify where and how you can connect with the people you most care about online. How can you decide on which social platforms to build your presence? To do this, try considering some of the sample questions listed below.
- Relevance to intended connections? Be they friends, family, colleagues, clients, acquaintances, celebrities and more, is the platform relevant to popular among the groups of people you want to reach?
- Personal or professional? Will you be using the social platform for personal or professional use? What types of relationships are you looking to build? You may want to understand how to most effectively manage your privacy settings online to ensure you don't inadvertently share those family photos online with your boss!
- Passive or active use? Do you intend on actively sharing content in order to build relationships, or are you more interested in quietly consuming content in the background? (Heard of the 90-9-1 Rule? Rest assured you're likely not not the only 'lurker' on social media!)
- Network size? Does the platform have a sufficient amount of members to warrant some of your time, or could you also access this many people in a similar way elsewhere? If the community you are trying to reach is small, aim for smaller online communities where your presence will be less diluted among the noise. If large, think of how you can most effectively access the full scale of this target network.
- Familiarity and confidence with the platform? Are you currently active and using the platform or would you need to create a new account? Starting a new social identity can be both daunting and exciting for some, but for those managing multiple profiles online, it is often best to focus on the ones we feel most comfortable with day to day.
- Need for privacy and control? Do you want to communicate in private/public fashion, or are you concerned with sharing your information online? If so, you should probably get to know the varying privacy settings and policies for each platform you plan to use and understand how to protect yourself in a way that suits you (we'll come back to this in future posts).
- Preferred content types? What types of content do you most prefer to consume and also share with others? Are you an avid reader/writer? If so, blogs and platforms for long-form content may be best suited, such as Medium or LinkedIn. If you are inclined to more visual content, sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook will be able to help you. Looking for short, specific updates on a certain topic and short on time? Twitter is your go-to option.
- Conversation/interaction types? What kind of conversations are you looking for with your target network? Do you to privately communicate through messaging/email etc. to share ideas, or are you more interested in communicate yo your network openly at scale? For those seeking 1-1 or more intimate conversations, ensure you select the platforms which provide you the privacy and tools to do so.
Social Platforms Breakdown
Now comes the moment of truth - where to build your social presence online? Once you've identified your networking goals and platform needs from the questions above, it's time to identify the platforms which will most help you in achieving your goals.
The social media landscape is huge and consistently changing, but with visual tools such as Brian Solis & JESS3's Conversation Prism, we can quickly get a snapshot view of the different categories and of platforms and tools available to us online.
With so many categories and ways to use each platform, let's have a quick look at some of the most popular channels to consider when building your social media presence suite, and why you should consider them.
Social Media Platforms
Facebook: This multi-functional social media giant is likely part of everyone's online social presence. With features for both individuals and organisations with either personal and professional networking ambitions, there's no surprise the platform now boasts over 2 billion monthly active users.
Twitter: Specialising in real-time events and news updates, the 140-character 'micro-blogging' site has developed a wide array of users around the world from celebrities to politicians to artists to regular joes. Particularly useful for those interested in the 'in-the-now', once you figure out how to use it.
LinkedIn: The world's largest professional network focusing on just that, professionals. LinkedIn's 500+ million members aren't interested in funny cat videos or your latest holiday photos - at least on LinkedIn they're not. Professionals are connecting themselves to economic opportunities to build the right skills, knowledge and connections to help grow their careers and do business.
Instagram: Designed as the mobile platform to help us capture and share the world's moments, Instagram pioneered much of today's mobile filters, square photo sizes & selfie culture. For the more visually it's hard to think of an easy to use photo platform for sharing part of your day-to-day life with the world.
Pinterest: The platform which redefined the meaning of 'pinned' content, Pinterest describes itself as an online "catalogue of ideas". Visually-oriented and creative, Pinterest can serve as a great platform for identifying new fashion, design and other creative trends through discovering new content right under your nose.
Snapchat: Having completely disrupted the art of video messaging, Snapchat has changed the way we view temporal or temporary content sharing. Although facing pressure from similar features being rolled out on larger platforms, Snapchat still holds a strong and active user base among millennial audiences.
VKontakte: A multi-functional social networking site similar to Facebook, VK is recognised as one of the most popular sites in the world, and Russia's most popular website. Although personal focused, VK is a must-have for anyone looking to grow their network within the Russian or eastern-European environment.
WhatsApp: Added in recent years to the extended Facebook family, WhatsApp has become one of the most popular messaging apps across multiple devices. Particularly popular for both professional and NSFW group conversations, WhatsApp has developed it's free platform as the green-standard in mobile web messaging.
Joining The Conversation!
Have a look again the Conversation Prism 5.0 and let us know some of the platforms you currently aren't suing which you think you should. We'd love to see where you can grow your online identities next!