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Back to school: the basics of what it takes to succeed on social

I love the back-to-school season for many reasons. The feeling of fall right around the corner. The smell of new school supplies. The excitement from teachers and children. It brings back so many memories. I was one of those students who LOVED school.

This time of year, however, is also a great time to refocus on education in your professional life. From July through August, I reassess my personal and professional goals, make adjustments, and even course-correct if something hasn't gone quite right. However, I also make time to learn new skills or take classes and workshops.

If you're anything like me, you might also be looking for education. In that case, you've come to the right spot. For this blog post, I've done a quick roundup of your social media mid-year check-in.

It's time to go back to social media school and brush up on some basics that you might have forgotten.


1. Do you have a current avatar on all social media platforms?

An avatar is a small icon that represents you or your brand, otherwise known as your profile photo. Ideally, this would be consistent on each social media platform. The avatar serves a critical function: You want people to be able to "recognize" that it's you as soon as they see you pop up on their screen.

If you're a business, this means that your logo should be clearly visible. Some companies even create a custom logo, just for social media use.

If you're an individual, you should use a professional photo or an image of you by yourself that looks somewhat high-quality. And? Consider where you're sharing the photo. Selfies don't scream "professional" on platforms like LinkedIn.

2. Is your website connected or shown in the about section or bio of your profile?

Social media has the potential to drive traffic to your website, but only if you let it. You want to make the customer journey as seamless as possible. On social media, this means that a user should be able to click through your profile, about section or bio, and easily reach your website.

If you don't have a blog or a website, you can get creative with where you choose to link on your profiles. I've seen users link to GoFundMe pages or places where people can donate to non-profits that are important to them. You could also consider setting up something like About Me, simply so that you can have a little more real estate online. If that's not your thing, think about where you most prefer people to connect with you. If you want more Instagram followers, you can add your link to Instagram. And so forth.

Use your social media profiles to drive traffic where you want it to go.

3. Have you posted anything in the last couple of years that could get you fired or cause a scandal?

Back-to-school season symbolizes a "fresh start" in many respects. For social media platforms, this is the time of year in which I suggest Googling yourself or doing a manual search on social media channels for anything you've posted that might be... questionable.

There are even websites such as Will my tweets get me fired? that can help you find any previously posted material that's offensive or inappropriate.

In today's world, it isn't a matter of if something you post could cause backlash; it's WHEN. Manually searching for problematic posts means going on the offense, which is the best defense in a crisis.

4. Have you defined your online style?

This is a difficult concept for many left-brained people, so for the sake of clarity, I'm going to call "online style" your "personal brand." If you're a company, you have an idea of what your brand is about, but have you ever thought about your personal brand?

Your brand is your identifying mark.

Your personal brand is your identifying mark on social media and digital channels.

When someone sees a post of yours, is it absolutely clear that it came from your account? Is it something people who know you would see it and say, "oh, that is SO Maree (or whatever your name might be)."

There are many ways to define your online style. Think through how you would describe your personality. Make a list of values that are important to you. Take a look at other people in your industry for inspiration. Then, make sure what you post is consistent with that style.

For example, I tend to talk about social media, its uses, and insights on almost all of my social networks, so that's how people identify my brand. If I shifted quickly to another topic, however, it might throw my friends, fans, and followers for a loop.

5. Are you planning to share content?

Some people want to have social media accounts just to have them. When you Google their name, you see LinkedIn profiles, a Tweet or two or a link to their Facebook account. When you click through, however, it's like tumbleweeds in the Old West. Their profile and general online presence are very dry.

If you've thought about your personal brand, you're slightly ahead of the curve, but understand this: You have a personal brand whether you realize it or not. Even your absence or neglect of social media profiles says something about you.

Posting content to your pages is infinitely better than not. The absence of content allows others to formulate a narrative in their minds of whom they think you are. Is that something that's okay with you?

If not, I recommend getting on a regular schedule of sharing content. It can be weekly, bi-weekly, daily, etc.

6. What does success look like to you?

Ultimately, what you put into social media is what you're going to get out of social media. If you sow negativity or aggressiveness, you will reap negativity and aggressiveness.

If you sow value, you will receive value.

It's as simple as that.

Decide now what success on social media looks like to you and then reverse engineer what you should do to get there.

Unsure of how to start? Contact me here. I'd love to help you.

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