Social media is ubiquitous, mainstream and evolving.
With well over 2 billion active users worldwide, social media connects us in previously unimaginable ways. Where the word “social” in social media once conjured thoughts of casual sharing among a small circle of friends, the meaning of the word has grown along with the popularity of social networks. The word now evokes broader thoughts of community, citizenry and “social” commentary.
Students are beginning to realize their social media activities extend beyond their circle of friends. They understand each and every post adds to their discoverable digital dossier and this digital portfolio will be assessed by colleges and employers. The initial reaction to this perceived invasion of privacy and need for online reputation management was predictable. Beginning with Snapchat, opportunistic entrepreneurs seized upon the demand to put the “cat back in the bag” by marketing “anti-social” media networks. The success of this fear based marketing effort is now evident in app stores where ephemerality and anonymity are all the rage.
Social media has delivered on the internet’s visionary promise of a “world wide web” by creating a data-rich virtual directory of people, groups and organizations, all tightly indexed by Google. As highlighted by the visionary work of Social Assurity, this massive directory is changing the ways we are being vetted and recruited for college, scholarships, work, and many other relationships. Anyone wanting to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital age must have a social media presence and, more importantly, that presence should not rely on nor be defined by any single social media platform.
We are perceived by others as the sum of our social media content found on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms. These mainstream and very public social media platforms present our accomplishments, interests, insights, values and character to others in rich and persuasive ways. Our virtual narrative is assembled from the full catalog of our social media activities and delivered to the world by Google.
LinkedIn might be known as the professional network, Facebook the personal network and Instagram the expressive network, but these marketing distinctions lose their meaning at the highest level. These social networks are stitched together by Google to holistically tell your story. Google effectively breaks down the barriers between social networks.
Rather than providing social media training specific to a single network, let’s take a step up and consider how you can maximize your social media index. Should someone search for you by name, chances are three of the top five search results generated by Google will be your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages. Will the combined content of these platforms reflect upon you in a consistent, reflective and compelling way and how can you tighten your virtual narrative?
Google has recently refreshed Google+ and, more importantly, promoted Google+ from an "additional Google service" to a "core service" for Google Apps for Work customers. Google now calls Google+ "a social network designed for business" and highlights how Google+ supports communications among employees and customers. There are over one billion monthly active Gmail users worldwide and every one of those users has an associated Google+ account. For those unfamiliar with Google+, all you really need to know is the power of its user profile page. A vast majority of Gmail users never touch their Google+ profile page but ignoring this feature now comes with consequences. Google+ has the potential of becoming the quintessential digital professional directory.
Imagine the power of a Google indexed directory that can lead people directly to your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook profile, your Twitter profile and even to your personal website. Google+ profiles provide users with the ability to list all of their social media links in one place. Google+ also offers up a very flexible template where you can write your personal narrative that can tie all of your interests, activities, and viewpoints together in one tight package. This virtual narrative can be keyword rich and can tell your story without the character limitations found on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Your Google+ profile can synthesize your collective social media activities and tie them into your professional and personal aspirations in one highly-indexed place.
The tools to leverage the productive value of social media college prep and for employability skills are at your fingertips. All you need to do is adjust your approach to social media to tap into the highly evolving digital world. Using Google+ as a master index to establish and control your virtual narrative is a great way to start.