Gabriel García Márquez once said that everyone has a public life, a private life and a secret life. If the Colombian writer were still alive today he would add a fourth category: social media.
If someone is interested in your business. They will google it. If someone is interested in hiring you. They will google your name. If someone meets you at a party. They will probably google you too.
In today’s world, it is almost impossible not to use social media at some point. That is why it is increasingly important that you have, not only a significant presence but also an effective one.
I put together a simple guide to creating a winning social media profile.
Writing and Storytelling
Social media is all about writing and storytelling. And in truth, few people could really do it well. First, it is important to decide on what kind of image you want to project to the world. And that depends on what context your social media profile belongs to. For example, if you are working for a non-profit, it is important to give the impression that it is a forward-looking and worthwhile organization. If you operate a start-up, it is important to illustrate why your product or services set you apart from your competitor. The most important thing is to project a positive image at all times.
And if you are looking for a new job or looking to change careers, blogging is an excellent way to build a personal brand. I wrote an article about this very thing available here. Just briefly, there are just too many blogs, with many going inactive for long periods after a few months. Find a niche topic and write, write, write…
WordPress is the industry standard especially when it comes to blogging. It is easy to use and affordable. If you want to own a domain prices start at only $5 a month or $60 for the year. The more you are willing to pay the more access you get to plug-ins and templates.
I built a blog on Portuguese soccer using WordPress named Futebol Factory (pictured) which has received as much as 31,000 views in one year. No bad. Now, I have over a thousand followers on the corresponding Twitter account. And I get numerous requests to write and contribute to other websites.
Note, that every tweet, re-tweet, comment, photo or like, will be seen by the outside world. That is the first thing. Second, find your voice or purpose. It could be anything you are interested in or a subject related to your career. Also remember, photos, videos and graphics go a long way on Twitter these days. To build a following, follow like-minded people who share your interests and focus. Then, engage by liking and re-tweeting.
Much of what applies to Twitter could also be applied to Facebook, however is a far more important tool for businesses and non-profits. Not only is it used for promotion but it is also effective for generating sales and donations. More and more money is exchanging hands on Facebook and this is likely to continue.
World Vision USA (pictured) is a great example. They essentially use their Facebook page as a second website. Notice the prominent position of the donation button. On the left, is a list of relevant links. Plus, the page is full of articles, photos and videos that demonstrate the work the organization does. And it is updated daily.
Instagram is all about visuals. It might not be immediately obvious but visuals have the power to tell a story as well. And I hate to break it to you but your life is not that interesting. You are not likely to attract many followers unless you are famous person or are promoting a famous brand. There are just so many photos of people’s friends or food. It is best to settle on a theme of some kind like travel or interior design and make it your own.
Fashion blogger and entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni is a great example of someone who has used Instagram to promote herself and her business. She started on social media and built up her brand. Now, she is regularly featured on swell-known print publications and websites.
Photos, Graphics and Video
If you want to add photos to your posts Shutterstock offers you access to millions of photos for a cost. The quality of the photos are very good. Many organizations and companies use Shutterstock for their social media. If you are working with a small or no budget at all, Unsplash and Pixabay are free and they have a good collection of photos as well. Canva and Pablo are two tools that allow you to edit and add text to photos and they are relatively affordable options. Please do not copy and re-use images you find on the internet because chances are it belongs to someone else. For video, Periscope is a neat tool that allows you to use your phone to make simple videos.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Until recently, Adobe Creative Cloud was known as Creative Suite. It is an umbrella term for the creative software applications provided by Adobe. The most well-known and widely-used is Photoshop which of course allows people to edit their photos and other images. Illustrator is a tool for graphic design and illustration. InDesign is primarily used for page design and desktop publishing. Premiere and After Effects allow you to edit video and add special effects. There are some good tutorials on each program on Adobe’s website. Watch them and decide weather this is something you could use before you commit any money.
Google Analytics is a tool that tracks the usage data of a website. This is particularly useful for businesses that want to better understand their customers wants and needs. Besides the fundamentals like highest number of clicks and keywords, it also tracks bounce rates, links and engagement. The data could give you a better understanding of your website’s strengths and weaknesses.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This could simply be defined as the methods used to improve the visibility of your website or blog on search engines. It is a good idea to start with the essentials like keywords and headlines before moving onto title tags, meta descriptions and so on. It is not essential for every situation but it is certainly worth looking into if you are serious about promoting your site. It is an evolving field so it is a good idea to remain up to date on the latest news and trends. Search Engine Watch is probably the best website for SEO information.
SEO and Web Analytics
Useful Websites and Tools