Deepen Your Social Media Substance

Deepen Your Social Media Substance

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by Chris Barton, President & Founder

Throughout Philadelphia and the broader Delaware Valley you cannot turn a corner without a career coach, recruiter or public relations expert explaining how important it is to improve your social media presence.  They will commonly add on the value of tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs in creating an “expert presence” on the internet.  It seems these days that the “secret sauce” for an award-winning job search recipe is creating an on-line persona that gets you to the top of Google search rankings. Good.  Problem solved.  Not so fast grasshopper! Spit-shined shoes, a good hair cut, a great blog and solid LinkedIn page will only get you so far.

You know those folks that evaluate used cars for a living?  You drive your used car into the dealership hoping to get top value as a trade-in on a new model.  The used car manager looks over your car from top to bottom.  He gets underneath the hood, opens the trunk, lifts up the seats and looks around the seals of the glass.  When he comes back to the showroom to return your keys he has a painfully long conversation with the salesperson.

Now it’s the moment of truth! The salesperson returns to the desk where you have been patiently waiting and says, “I am sorry I don’t believe we’ll be interested in purchasing your vehicle.” Upon further inspection the used car manager found something wrong. The car looked polished, clean and well maintained but the overspray on the back left quarter panel revealed your secret!  The vehicle has had some body work from an accident.

The purpose of the used car metaphor is to illustrate the concept and critical nature of true substance in our social media presence.  Exaggerated accomplishments, masked employment gaps, and flowery on-line recommendations are common place among many professional users of social media.  How many negative references have you seen on a LinkedIn profile? Exactly! Zero. Nada. In response, the skepticism of decision makers is on the rise.  This is due in no small part to professional brands that have been over marketed and hyper-exposed.

It is true that you need to be found online.  It is also more imperative than ever that you are able to support your advertised accomplishments and track record with specific actions, situations and results.  A good way to conduct a review of your social media substance is to prepare a situational story for every accomplishment that you have listed.  If you can’t support what is advertised with a meaty story, get it off your profile.

Second, make sure the applications, tools and presentations displayed on your accounts reflect a consistent, accurate message.  The worst thing you could do would be to display contradictions within an on-line profile. People just love to use that reading list application these days on LinkedIn.  You may want to have actually read the book before you put it up there!

Third, don’t go over the top. Too much emphasis on how “fabulous” you are can end up being misconstrued as arrogance or blatant embellishment. Finally, review your on-line brand for the words I, me, my, mine.  First person language is a dead giveaway for ambitions that run shallow.