Take Your LinkedIn Profile from Average to All-Star!

“I don’t know what I’m doing on LinkedIn.” I hear this all the time, and it’s often voiced with either resignation or frustration. People tend to look at LinkedIn as a necessary evil, so linkedin questionsthey throw a few random resume bits up and call it a day. This is a mistake! A 2014 round-up found that 94% of recruiters are on LinkedIn but only 36% of candidates are, 73% of Millenials found their last job through social media and 89% of recruiters have hired someone through LinkedIn.

Before you consider connecting with those recruiters though, you need to have a completed, All-Star level profile, and these tips will help you get there:

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It’s Elementary, Dear Twitter Users!

twitter-chats-360This month, Twitter celebrated its 9th birthday. With 288 million active users, and 500 million tweets sent daily, it is firmly in the social media mainstream. Despite its popularity, I still often chat with friends and clients who feel they don’t know what they’re doing on Twitter, or are afraid of “tweeting wrong.” Twitter can be a lot of fun and can help you personally and professionally if done right. Whether you’re tweeting as a brand, or as yourself, here are 9 basic tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the platform while avoiding unfortunate faux pas!

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“Whatcha gonna do when they tweet for you?” Prince George County Police Dept & the Perils Live Tweeting

After reading Lance Ulanoff’s piece about live tweeting in Mashable yesterday, I decided to address one questionPGPD live tweet announcement he did not: are there times when it’s best to not live tweet an event? While researching the question, I stumbled upon a “Not-The-Onion” level of craziness from the United States in early May. Apparently, the Prince George County Police Department (PGPD) media relations team decided it would be a great idea to live-Tweet a prostitution sting in Maryland, and, that it would be even better to announce the event in advance. To make matters worse, their blog announcement stated that they would target “those soliciting prostitutes” but their accompanying image, which was subsequently removed from their website, showed a woman being led away in plastic handcuffs. The backlash on Twitter and in the news media was swift and harsh. These tweets, featured in a Vox piece, capture the sentiment well: Continue reading

Three Reasons not to Hire a Social Media Intern (And Five Tips if you Hire One Anyway)

Credit: Stuart Pilbrow

Credit: Stuart Pilbrow

It’s the beginning of July, and, judging by the number of ads I’m seeing, it’s time to talk about social media interns. For the purpose of this piece, an intern is defined as “a student or recent graduate who works for a [fixed] period of time at a job in order to get experience.” Hiring interns can be beneficial to both companies and student employees, but, in order to maximize the benefits of the arrangement, the tasks and responsibilities given to them must be appropriate. Too often we hear about interns being hired to learn new skills only to find their days actually being filled with cleaning, fetching coffee or other menial tasks that don’t add value to their resumes. However, when it comes to social media, employers still often take things to the opposite extreme, giving interns free rein to create and/or post on a company’s social media accounts, despite many articles and blog posts warning them not to.

To review what has been said in similar posts elsewhere, hiring a social media intern is a bad idea for three reasons:

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Do We Need Social Media “Experts?”

In November, Workopolis published Thinkopolis: 2013 Year in Review + A Look Ahead to 2014. In it they included a list of “Vanishing Vocations” that won’t exist in ten years. Much to my surprise, Social Media Expert topped the list, beating out Taxi Dispatcher, Postal Worker, Retail Cashier, and Word Processor / Typist in the race to redundancy.  Workopolis reasons that:

“Soon a generation of young professionals who’ve grown up with Twitter and Facebook as part of their daily lives will be entering the job market. With this glut of savvy young online communicators looking for work, social media skills will just become expected communication competencies, like reading and writing, rather than unique areas of expertise. This will end the need for social media experts.”

What is most unfortunate about this is not just that it is wrong, but that it has been quoted repeatedly, everywhere.

Before I get to Workopolis’ misconceptions, I must do the obligatory kvetching about the term “expert.” If the Workopolis team had done their homework, they’d know it’s a meaningless term in social media, and, what’s more, it does not describe a role someone would have in a company. Do they mean Consultant? Community Manager? Digital Strategist? Anyone who knows what a hashtag is? But I digress…

The main problem here is the same problem I often see when people discuss the future of social media management: They confuse basic skills with talent and expertise. Just because everyone knows how to write, we don’t assume all employees have the talent to write effective press releases. And just because anyone with a smart phone can take pictures or make videos, we don’t assume there is no need for professional photographers or filmmakers. The same holds true for social media.

The "Expert" at Work?When I started making my lateral move from television to social media, I assumed it would be easy. I’m on Facebook and I tweet occasionally. What’s there to know? Turns out, quite a lot. There are issues of content creation, posting strategy, running effective contests, engaging with customers, interpreting metrics, and keeping up with trends and platform changes. Having personal accounts where you discuss weekend plans with friends does not teach you these things, nor will everyone who tries to learn excel at it. What’s more, most employees will not have the time to take this on in addition to their other duties.

Unfortunately, Workopolis also fell for the myth that young people will somehow be automatically good at techie tasks. During my year as the Social Media Manager at Students Offering Support (SOS) Head Office, I had the privilege of working with many amazing university students who were in charge of the social media accounts at their schools’ chapters. And while I never had to coach anyone on the mechanics of making a post, I did have to provide guidance about appropriate and effective content, the importance of consistent branding, and posting strategies. Just like everyone else, the young need talent and experience to make their basic social media skills useful in the workplace.

So, if Workopolis is wrong, what is the future of the Social Media “Expert”? At last year’s CM1 conference, someone said that what makes the field so exciting is that it’s new and really, no one knows for sure what will happen. What it means to be an “expert” will certainly change. The proliferation of basic social media skills means that no longer will anyone with a Facebook page be able to make a living teaching executives the rudimentary how-to’s. Being an “expert” will require more in-depth knowledge about strategy, analytics and content creation. Smaller companies may indeed figure out how to make social media more of a team effort, which will result in more hybrid roles of Social Media/PR or Social Media/Marketing. But whatever the future holds, it seems clear that while platforms come and go, social media is here to stay, and so is the social media “expert.”