By Nico Strydom
Social-media platforms have become part of people’s personal world, and also of their professional life.
Social media enables you to keep contact with family, friends and clients on a professional and personal level and to establish a brand for yourself. First, it is important to know why you are using social media. To create an online presence you must know what the advantages and disadvantages are.
From a professional point of view social media can help you build a network of knowledge, to stay informed of trends in your professional world and to market yourself as a thought leader in your profession.
It is also important to know the difference between the different types of social media and what they are used for. If it is all new to you, it would be better to first join the platforms so that you can get an idea of how they work and what you can do with them.
Once you are comfortable with social media, you should start building an online presence. It is, however, essential to act professionally on social media at all times. Decide on what you want to use social media for. Are you going to use it for personal purposes only, or to promote your career?
If you want to use social media only to stay in contact with family and friends, it does not, however, mean that you can say what you like. More and more employers use social media as a source to find out more about a potential employee. But you can set your social media in such a way that it is accessible only to people to whom you have granted access. Your friends and acquaintances can, however, make screen shots of your posts on social media, which could reach your employer and land you in the soup.
It is therefore essential to keep posts and all other interactions on social media professional. Make sure that you know your employer’s policy regarding social media. Your reputation is most important and can easily be destroyed in the social media.
Therefore, always think carefully before posting something on social media or reacting to it. It is important to watch your language and to monitor your privacy, and do not say anything negative about your employer on social media. Make, and react only to, posts that you would not mind sharing personally with your employer or clients.
Try to steer clear of emotional, religious and political remarks that you would otherwise not have made in the workplace. Make sure that your language is professional and upload only photos of yourself that can be regarded as professional. Distance yourself from unprofessional photos and only share links and other posts that are regarded as professional.
Take care not to become involved in inappropriate posts and remove yourself immediately if it happens. Stay away from contentious conversations and rather remove friends or acquaintances who can get you into trouble. Remember, everything you post online stays there for ever and even if you remove it, it never really goes away. Therefore, think twice before you post anything or react to something.
Walden University: https://www.waldenu.edu/programs/resource/how-to-use-social-media-professionally