Social branding: building my online personality

Not so long ago I wrote a blog called ‘ Social branding; who am I? Since then I have been working on creating and developing my online personality by sharing information, images that interest me and may possibly interest others. Along the way I’m making a few discoveries about myself, realising I know a bit more about digital marketing than I thought which is a boost for my self confidence. I’ve been working on my Twitter and LinkedIn profiles with a mixed bag of success, I’ll go into more detail below.

Twitter

I’m not embarrassed to say that in the past I wasn’t a Twitter person, since using it for work and attending some communication conferences I have got an insight to how I could effectively use this social network without sharing every aspect of life, nothing wrong in being selective.

  • Less is definitely more
  • Don’t go nuts with the hashtags
  • Be genuine and not so self centered.
  • Put some thought into the content I’m sharing, is it something my followers would be interested in.
  •  Don’t forget to have fun with it.
All sounds simple enough when you think about it
  • Put some effort into building your online persona,
  • Look for articles on your topic of interest
  • Like and share other people’s posts
  • Write and share your own words of wisdom, this part I sometimes struggle with, but something I am slowly but surely getting to grips with.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t

I’ll admit that I don’t always know what I’m doing, there is a lot of information online some of it can be conflicting and down right confusing. Eventually I will have a much more structured approach  but at the moment the mixture of structure and ‘winging it’ is paying off.

My number followers are increasing which is good though the numbers do tend to fluctuate.

Followers April-May

I noticed in one day my number of followers had fallen by 10, but by the end of the day I had regained the number of followers originally lost. As you can see I have been posting a lot of message related to technology. It’s linked to my new found interest of artificial intelligence, it’s something that both worries and fascinates me at the same time.

LinkedIn

I use this social network differently to Twitter. With Twitter I feel I have more freedom to post a mixture of posts that show my different interests from a digital communications point of view to baking and about the exercise classes I attend. LinkedIn has a more professional air and not really a place to post how I profusely glowed during a weekly Zumba class.

LinkedIn is a work in progress

I have updated my profile, even went as far as filling in the summary section about myself. If I keep going in the direction that I am it is only a matter of time that I too will be confidently sharing my own words of wisdom. No I just need to be a bit more active and get involved, comment on posts and join some of the groups.

The one things I have learnt and I would say is one of the most important pieces of advice given on this journey is that no matter what your topic of interest is, it is important to find your own voice, be yourself. Just because you can’t be seen doesn’t mean your followers won’t be able to see through the fakeness.

What I’ve learnt about creating online content so far

I’m not a social butterfly, I don’t thrive in a room full of strangers with ease. I am an introvert until I feel comfortable enough to allow my extrovert side to make an appearance. People who know me well enough may find this all hard to believe as they tend to worry when I am quiet! So you can imagine my own surprise that of all the jobs and potential career paths I could have fallen into and have a genuine eagerness to learn more about and some degree of success in is digital communications.

My current employment is in external communications; maintaining the company’s website and social media pages. I have been fortunate enough to have been allowed to explore the world of video, at the moment I have only dabbled in stop motion animation but will be using YouTube editing facilities in the near future. I have been to conferences to increase my understanding and learn from experts who were once in the same position as me; wondering where to start with a social media campaign, what content to share with the world, how to engage with people to create a strong following. Then there is the topic of branding, both for business and personal, that’s right people branding is not reserved just for businesses. Just by how I present myself online through the content I share, posts I comment on even this blog are all part of my brand.

Personal Brand

For the first time I took part (a little bit) on a Twitter chat hosted by Hootsuite called #HootChat. I was a bit apprehensive at first as many of the people also taking part sounded experienced and knew what they were talking about and knew each other, but we all have to start somewhere so in I jumped with my digital arm bands.

The questions put forward for discussion revolved around branding;

  • Do you have a brand?
  • How would you describe your brand?
  • How do you maintain your brand?

This got me thinking about myself and how would I answer these questions, in short the answer is I don’t know, I’m still figuring this out. What I have learnt so far is that I need to think about what is my online persona, is there something in particular I want to be known for?

Original tweet posted my Sarah Picard

Persona Tweet

I am sharing a lot of things around social media, mental health, blogging and artificial intelligence; this is a topic that has caught my eye lately. I want to try and remain a personable by sharing my interests and generally things that happen in my world.

MyTweet

Content is king

Whilst at the Engaging Digital Conference piece of advice given was when generating content think of it as storytelling. Engage, depending on the topic and your personality even entertain your followers through the power of your words. You want your content to encourage people to comment, share and like your posts.

Be selective, just because you have a lot to say doesn’t mean it needs to be said all at once, one of the pieces of advice given at the #DigCommsConf by speaker Oli Lewington was to avoid ‘blasting people with your hose of content’, you want people to come back!

Hashtags are handy but you don’t want them to distract from your message. At the conference during her talk speaker Joanna Goodwin noted that from her experience less hashtags used is more.

Twitter_Hashtag

Try not to be a complete narcissist and think just because you wrote an excellent article that people will just gravitate towards you. Get involved, share other people’s posts, comment, like etc. I manage to share and like other people’s posts but haven’t been very vocal when it comes to commenting. This is something I will work on but the fact I’m thinking about my personal brand and being more active on Twitter and LinkedIn is a step in the right direction.

Video

‘Video will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2019, up from 64% in 2014, says technology giant Cisco. ‘

I still want to try my hand at creating and using more video in my posts. Video is a great way to tell a story and visually engages followers. I’m still a newbie and have been somewhat lazy in developing those skills myself, until then I will happily share other peoples videos.

Is LinkedIn becoming the Facebook for professionals?

The professional networking site has been removing and introducing new features to the site which are not being received by all users with welcomed arms, despite a growth in revenue the network has reported a net loss of $13.4 million.

LinkedIn is competing with the likes of Facebook and Twitter who like LinkedIn are constantly evolving to meet the changing requirements of their new and future users. Facebook and Twitter are diversifying from being just a place to socialise with friends, family to also being used as a social media marketing tool for both businesses and individuals. As LinkedIn’s competitors grow, to avoid being left behind LinkedIn is attempting to become a more socially friendly place. It isn’t to say that you cannot become friends with your LinkedIn contacts but the lines between all the social networks is becoming more blurry as they compete to maintain and increase users whilst also generating a profit.

Features

Polls

As part of its overhaul LinkedIn removed the polls feature in 2013. The use of polls was a good way to engage people’s opinions and encourage them to comment. LinkedIn are going that one step further by removing the ability to create a poll within a group, this will be removed this month.

At LinkedIn, we strive to provide a simple and efficient experience for members like you. So we continually evaluate how our current products and features are being used. This sometimes means we remove a feature so we can focus our resources on building the best products.

•The LinkedIn Polls app was retired on June 30, 2013.

•Note: A similar feature for polls in groups will also be retired effective May 15, 2014.

Endorsements

The site introduced their endorsement feature.

The idea sounds positive but it is becoming a case of you endorse me and I’ll endorse you. I’m not how seriously these are actually taken.

Site Wide Automatic Moderation

Many LinkedIn user’s will be now be aware of the sites Site Wide Automatic Moderation (SWAM). This is LinkedIn’s attempt to tackle the issue of spamming and abuse in groups. The initial idea behind this sounds promising until you have been SWAM’d. This feature allows anyone in the group to flag a post which then sends the original poster into moderation across all their groups. Users are not aware they have been SWAM’s until they try to post something to a group board and it is sent to moderation. Previously users were not able to find out which group had blocked or deleted them but now a blue box will appear in the group where it all began. SWAM’d users can be in a state of for an length of time, some have been unable to post to group boards for over a year whilst other it is a week.

Additional changes

LinkedIn are telling me when it is someone in my contacts birthday. I understand LinkedIn are trying to move in a different direction by encouraging users to be more engaging and social but I don’t see the need to say ‘Happy Birthday’, that type of thing I would save for a different social network.

I enjoy reading the various articles written by ‘experts’, it is not so much the topics of the articles that I have an issue with but it is other users’ behaviour when it comes to commenting. When posting something on a public site the writer is usually prepared to receive some criticism however for a group of people who are meant to be professional some of the comments I have read are rude and can result in off topic bashing. Instead of commenting on the points made in the article the main focus readers become grammar nazi’s or it turns into a personal attack on the writer. Surely LinkedIn should be tackling this type of behaviour?

The sites wants its users to engage with each other but risk a temporary suspension if someone does not agree with their opinions and flags their post. The site wants to be content driven but why write a well thought out article if readers are not willing to give constructive criticism? Change is not always a bad thing but is LinkedIn heading in the right direction with its current and future changes? LinkedIn like to think they are, not sure if their users would agree.

LinkedIn – Have you been SWAM’d?

What is SWAM?

SWAM is the acronym for Site Wide Auto Moderation, this is a policy that was introduced by LinkedIn last year without little announcement. The aim of the policy is control spammers posting in groups.

The policy gives moderators the power to block, delete or moderate posts of certain members of their group. You would think this would only apply to said person’s ability to post in that particular group? Wrong! That person’s ability to post in other groups is automatically affected, sometimes the moderators of your other groups are not even aware that some posts are going to their groups moderation queue.

My Situation

I have been a user of LinkedIn since 2009 and have not ever had a problem until a week ago when I discovered I had been SWAM’d! I didn’t know what this was  until I did a bit of investigating with the aid of Google.

I hadn’t been blocked or deleted from a specific group as I was still able to see all of them. I contacted LinkedIn support who were of little help, they were not able to tell me which group had flagged my posts and advised I contact the moderators of all the groups I was a member of to ask them to take me off their moderation list. I did this with no reply from any of them, I was assuming that these moderators actually read their emails and ‘moderated’ their groups. I sent a follow up, more detailed email to a few of the moderators explaining the situation I was in with no response.

All this time I am still getting emails from LinkedIn to trial their paid membership free for a month. I was not interested in taking LinkedIn up on their offer then and am most definitely not interested now.

LinkedIn SWAM Group

In order to gain further knowledge regarding this policy I joined the LinkedIn group SWAM (Site Wide Auto Moderation) Support – A SPAM Free Group. There I found others who are going through the same scenario.

From the group I found out that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the moderator who can flog your posts up, it can be anybody in that group! I also discovered this policy was being unfairly used by other LinkedIn members to get back at members of a group for minor reasons such as not agreeing with their opinions.

LinkedIn has given power to almost anyone to flag a post whether it is considered spam or not affecting that person’s permission level in every group they are a member of, it is done anonymously so it is only through contacting group members, moderators and playing Sherlock Holmes yourself you may or may not discover who flagged your posts or which group you have been blocked and deleted from to begin with.

Even if the initial group does reinstated your access it does not cross over to all the groups. Each group moderator has to physically take you of their moderation list. This is a lot of headache for all those concerned. This was when you were able to contact the moderators. In order to ‘persuade’ LinkedIn members to upgrade their membership unless the moderator is a 1st contact you are no longer able to message them.

I understand the reason for the policy what I do have issue with is the fact that been flagged in one group affects your permission status to post in other groups. It is anonymous so you initially you had no idea you had been SWAM’d. Before a person’s posting permissions for a group are altered that groups moderator should contact said person to inform them that their post that is breaching the rules before sending all their posts to moderation. The other concern is that not all moderators as active within their groups so your post ends up in limbo, running the risk of possibly not even being posted.

Updates

LinkedIn now place a blue box in the group that initially flagged your posts to begin with to let you know which group start the SWAM process.

The latest update regarding SWAM from LinkedIn is that those who have been SWAM’d will be in the moderation stage temporarily, in the majority of cases moderation will be resolved within a few weeks. This doesn’t help many of us who feel they may have been unfairly targeted but it is a step in the right direction. It is a sign that LinkedIn are taking notice of their members.

LinkedIn have already reported financial losses, I doubt the drama surrounding SWAM is going to help their future profits.

PS

I checked this morning and it would appear can post to my groups again. Though it does mean I will be revising my groups.

Through being SWAM’d I have decided to revise the groups I am a part of. It is the not knowing why my posts and who flagged my posts up when I had not done anything different.

New Year New Start!

The employment market is as unpredictable now as it was in 2102. That doesn’t mean you should wait for your dream job, it isn’t going to fall into your lap by magic. It’s time to take action and update your job search techniques.

  • Decide what type of job your strengths are best suited for.
  • Create a Resume tailored to this particular role, highlighting your strengths.
    Think about the type of jobs you are applying for. If your Resume is focusing on your IT knowledge and experience, and you apply for a finance role, the probability of your Resume being placed in the ‘yes’ pile, let alone you being called in for an interview, are small.
    A recruiter will decide in a matter of seconds if you are suitable for a position.
  • Network effectively.
    Connect with people you know. Take advantage of their contacts and engage with them.
    Follow up connections with an email, meet contacts face to face, attend networking events.
    You will hear more on the networking grapevine about who is hiring. Just because a company hasn’t externally advertised a position doesn’t always mean they are not hiring.
  • Clean up your online profiles.
    Does your LinkedIn picture reflect your level of professionalism?
    Does your Facebook contain one too many pictures of you ‘enjoying’ yourself on a night out?
    Then you know what to do. Something small as changing your profile picture can make all the difference.
    Utilize your online profiles to your advantage, link them to your website, blog, link to other social networks.
    Don’t let your online profile overshadow your suitability for a role.
  • Have a skills gap?
    Consider learning a qualification or taking a short course.
  • Be patient.
    Finding the right job will not happen overnight. Every improvement you make will benefit you in the long term. Start searching now.

You can also view this article on JobServe.com.

What’s mine is yours?

Can copyright infringement be effectively monitored in the social media world?

Remember Napster, the music file sharing website that broke music copyright infringement laws and was court ordered to shut down in 2001? The world of Napster was only uncovered when musicians discovered their unreleased songs were in circulation. This led to musicians & record companies’ discovering catalogues of their music being shared and stating loss of sales and profits subsequently leading to legal action being taken.

In the world of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the increasingly popular online pin board- Pinterest where data is shared by the masses can copyright laws be easily enforced?

Pinterest has come under scrutiny as the site is heavily image based. There are concerns users may risk being sued for copyright infringement for images they have pinned without the original owners permission. ‘Pinterest also introduced the “no-pin tag” — meaning those who wanted to stay off the site had a simple but firm way of letting pinners know.’

Twitter has recently introduced a new policy to leave placeholder messages in place of a removed twitter message that has received a complaint from a copyright holder. Prior to this policy twitter messages were removed with no explanation.

Back in 2011 Facebook was brought into the spotlight for their aggressive stance on copyright infringement. If a third party claimed a page infringed on their copyright instead of further investigating the complaint and verifying the email address the complaint was made from, Facebook’s solution was to simply remove the page. This policy has left room for third parties to falsely accuse pages of copyright infringement resulting in innocent Facebook pages being removed.

Written in an article by www.infowars.com in October 2012, Facebook are now censoring political posts as ‘hate speech’.  Reading this article did make me think just how closely our movements, opinions etc are being monitored Big Brother. See what you think after reading this article.

If a user posts an image without permission of the original user but gives credit to them and links to their website (if they have one) with no monetary gain is this still infringement? Depending on its popularity the owner of the image will benefit from the extra attention. This would still be considered an infringement of copyright even when all those concerned are benefitting.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink the current copyright laws as the boundaries can get a bit blurry.

References

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/pinterest-addresses-copyright-concerns/2012/03/15/gIQAijAFES_story.html

http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2012/11/02/pinterest-problem-users-may-run-into-copyright-issues/

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/internet/3408979/twitter-leaves-placeholder-message-for-copyright-violations/

http://www.insidefacebook.com/2011/04/28/copyright-law-infringement/

http://www.facebook.com/legal/terms

http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/5-social-media-legal-land-mines

How social are we really?

It was while I was writing the blog ‘Facebook – What is going on?’ it crossed my mind that social media used to have an element of fun to it especially if you are using it solely for social purposes but even then you’re worried about how you look in your photos and what people are saying about you even if it is only a select few who will be viewing your posts. Why should we lose the ‘fun’ aspect when using social media for business?

Nowadays social media has become a marketing tool to advertise a product or company with little attention being paid to the social aspect, it seems to be slightly overrun with statistics and different tools to measure the efforts of your social media campaign.

I admit I have been guilty of this with regards to JobServe’s social media pages but decided to change my approach and give the whole be social and interact with JobServe’s followers a try. It is taking time as the followers were not used to being asked to give their opinion on a topic or vote on a poll. However with JobServe’s Facebook page the effort it paying off with new followers joining each day and people daring to comment on posts.

I have noticed though followers also do not necessarily want to interact themselves unless it is to complain or highlight a problem. JobServe’s LinkedIn group is still in its infancy stage and is taking time to encourage people to comment on posts but I am optimistic that in time the group will pick up momentum and encourage followers to share and discuss the issues they face when searching for the right job / candidate.

What do you all think?

Interviews Part 3 – Questions to ask

You’ve got the outfit and are at the interview. So far all is going well. You think the interview is drawing to an end, then the interviewer asks the question you have been dreading – ‘Do you have any questions?’.

How many of us have made the mistake of answering with ‘no’?

Really you should take this opportunity to interview the employer.

We’ve selected some questions we think you could ask in this situation.

  • Is this a new position or will I be replacing someone?
    If this is a new role, you are interested in finding out if this is a long term position or one that is likely to be terminated within a short period of time. It will also give you an idea of how the department is expecting to grow and how your role will fit in.
  • What training and progression opportunities are there within the company?
    You want to know how the company supports and encourages their employees to continue to develop their skills and progress within the company.
  • Where have successful employees previously in this position progressed to within the company?
    This relates to the previous question. This question will give you the opportunity to see how the company encourages personal development and do not prevent employees from working their way up the career ladder.
  • How will you be assessed in your job? Will there be regular one-to-one reviews?
    Regular reviews will show that the employer is interested in your progression and how you are finding the job.
  • How would you describe the ideal employee for this position?
    You will find out what type of person the interviewer is looking for and if you are suitable.
  • What is the culture of the work place?
    This will help you decide if you are a suitable match for the company.
  • Could you be shown around the department?
    You would have the opportunity to not only see where you would possibly be working but also see the people you would be working with.This would also be encouraging regarding how successful your interview has been.
  • What would be a typical working day in this role?
    You will be able to find out if the interviewer knows the role.You will be able to find out what it is you will be expected to do.
  • Will there be a probation period?
    This gives you and the employer the opportunity to decide if the job is right for you and vice versa.
  • Could you tell me a bit more about the role?
    Sometimes there is more to the job than what is simply mentioned in the job advert. The interviewer will be able to go into more detail.
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?
    This shows you are keen to take the job.You will know when you are likely to receive a response regarding your interview.

Every interview is different so think about what type of questions would be appropriate to ask.

References:
http://questionstoaskduringaninterview.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/prepare-questions-to-ask-the-employer-during-the-interview/
http://saraharg.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/15-great-interview-questions-to-ask-employers/
http://www.myambition.com/2011/07/10-questions-to-ask-at-interview/

You can also view the article on www.jobserve.com 

Are You Sabotaging Your Job Search?

Get to Work

Given continued unemployment and an unstable economic recovery, you would expect job seekers to be doing everything possible to put their best foot forward in their job searches.  In a competitive market they need to differentiate themselves from the many others seeking the same positions.

Imagine my surprise when I posted an open position in my department and began to review the mountain of applications I received.  More than half of the applicants were immediately eliminated from consideration.  They were making basic errors to sabotage their own job search efforts.

Don’t Follow Directions —If you can’t follow the directions in the hiring process, what makes an employer believe you will be able to follow directions on the job?  If it asks you to attach a resume, do it.  If it asks for references, provide them.  Demonstrate that you are prepared and capable of following directions.

Make Errors — As…

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Using social media to find employment

You’ve created a social profile and cleaned up your existing ones. Added a picture, included relevant keywords even created an online resume.

Now you sit back and wait for the jobs to fly in right? Wrong.

That is only the beginning; you have laid the social foundations now you have to build on them using social media as a marketing tool to sell yourself, you are the brand.

Not all social networks will be right for you, so decide which image you are going for and adapt your profile to suit its social environment. Each social network has a different ‘feel’.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site.

Facebook is relaxed, fun way to engage with people. It originally started out as a way to bring friends and family together.

Twitter is a casual environment to engage with others. Comments are made then are easily forgotten.

These are the main three networking sites, though you shouldn’t discount the likes of Pinterest and Google+.

Your resume will highlight your skills and experience but it won’t effectively display your personality and how you interact with others.

Social media encourages and an area you should concentrate on is networking and engaging with potential employers, colleagues and companies.

LinkedIn

You can create your LinkedIn profile highlighting your education and employment experience.

Request recommendations from previous work colleagues and employers.

Join groups, engage and create discussions.

Connect with people you know and companies you are interested in. Gradually you will be able to connect with someone in the company you are interested in working for.

Instead of going through a third party many companies will use LinkedIn to post their latest vacancies.

LinkedIn enables you to include a links to your blog, Twitter, Facebook and any additional websites you may have created.

Facebook / Pinterest

LinkedIn is restricted to text whereas images are fast becoming an alternative method to display information, hence the increasing popularity of Pinterest.

Depending on the industry you are looking to break into, use Facebook and/or Pinterest to create an online portfolio & resume.

As part of their social media campaigns most companies now have their own business social media pages.  Follow the companies you are interested, engage with them, take part in polls, comment on status updates etc.

Keep your profiles updated, steadily you will build up a following where others will want to share your work. This will take time and effort, choose to neglect your social branding and you will easily be forgotten.

Jackalope Jobs

Using more than one profile to find employment? Then there are websites such as Jackalope Jobs that ‘…utilize your online social circles to lead you to gainful employment: Jackalope Jobs.

Jackalope Jobs focuses on job seekers like you, helping you gain an edge on the competition by sorting through your social networks and pinpointing valuable connections. The way the site works is simple: You log in with LinkedIn, Facebook or Plaxo, and Jackalope Jobs imports all of your contacts, credentials and connections.

Social media will not replace traditional methods of finding employment but in my opinion should be used together with the end result being you find your ideal job.