Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Using social media as job search and career development business analysis resources 12: thinking through your planned online professional image and message 3

This is my twelfth installment to a series on the points of intersection between business intelligence and its gathering, and social media and related interactive online channels as sources of actionable information and insight, as they can be applied to job search and career development (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 397 and following for Parts 1-11.)

I began explicitly discussing the intentionally professionally oriented messages that we can and often do present about ourselves in Part 10 and Part 11 of this series, focusing in on our online profiles as offered through sites such as LinkedIn in Part 10, and on online groups and related information sharing resources in Part 11. I continue Part 11’s discussion of the wider potential reach that we can develop in professionally marketing ourselves through social media resources here. And I begin this by repeating a crucially important point that I have made many times, including in Part 11 of this series, and an orienting point of detail that at least should be obvious to any reader of this posting:

• Do your necessary due diligence research to identify which online social media resources, the people who you need to connect with online prefer and use. And focus on those channels when you reach out to them through social media with a goal of enhancing your jobs and career efforts.
• And keep abreast of new channels and tools for connecting into the social media conversation as new resources keep coming out and new features and enhancements are continuously being added to web sites and other resources already available for this.
• And I also add that sometimes, as in the case of LinkedIn’s now former Questions and Answers platform, tools and resources already on a site can go away too – including ones that you have actively participated in. So it is just as important to know of that type of change too, and to know when you have to look for new channels that support types of social media interaction that you prefer, as new options arise and older ones drop away.

I am writing here of a dynamically changing social media context and of the ongoing need to remain up to date on what is out there and on what is being used and by whom and for what. With that in mind, I turn to the topics of this posting, as summarized at the end of Part 11:

• I am going to turn in my next series installment to consider the long and the short of professional image and information sharing: blogs and Twitter (and other short message sharing sites like it.)
• And I will also discuss how sites like YouTube and other visually oriented sites can be used, and for online video resumes and for much more. And I will discuss how social media channels can be used coordinately to tell a more effective message and to share it more widely.

And I acknowledge there that the above bullet points are incomplete for what could very significantly be included. Those points leave out file sharing sites, user-contributor publically shared wikis and a great many other resources and resource types, at least as far as being specifically identified for inclusion here in this discussion. Throw a wide net in identifying the range and scope of types of resources that offer social media connectivity opportunity, and that might offer value to you from participating in. And throw a fine meshed net in identifying the best (for you) specific resources in this pool of information sharing opportunity. I will only discuss a few specific example resources here, as I attempt to outline and discuss more general principles.

And I begin with blogs and Twitter, and first off with blogs and blogging.

• I have already at least briefly discussed blogs, and other people’s blogs in particular in this series when focusing in on what we can learn about businesses through social media, and as we conduct our jobs and careers development due diligence research (see this series, Parts 1-8, and see in particular its Part 3.) That discussion addressed reading and following other people’s blogs but not necessarily interactively connecting back to them. Most blogs actively support reader feedback features too, where blog visitors can submit comments and other relevant feedback to specific postings, click to indicate that they like specific postings, subscribe to those blogs and otherwise connect back to their authors and identifiably so, pose questions and more. Blogging starts out one-way, but this channel essentially always supports two-way, interactive exchanges too.
• Follow other professionals’ blogs and certainly ones that offer content that you would see as valuable for you to know about, and when and as appropriate connect back to these writers to start conversations and to develop networking relationships.
• And at least consider whether blogging might be a good networking and social media sharing resource for you to more actively contribute to as well, as a blog writer.

Let’s consider some of the issues and implications that arise there, and by considering a brief starter list of due diligence details and questions. The first is one of why you would blog:

• What would you seek to accomplish through this effort?

Many people, and particularly small business owners find occasional blogging of use in marketing what their business offers, by highlighting their and their business’ expertise in areas where they can and do offer marketable products or services. And blogging can effectively publically display a professional’s experience and expertise and in ways that can offer value in their jobs and careers efforts.

A second area of consideration that needs to be thought through here is that of timing and duration. When you start a blog you in effect take on an open ended obligation to follow through on it and certainly if this effort is to sustainably offer you value as an ongoing jobs and career enhancing resource.

• How often can/should you write and post?
• And how long are you planning on doing so? Do you have a fixed goal here that would be completed in a time-limited manner, or are you leaving your endpoint for adding to your blog open?
• And to turn back to the first of these questions and my use of the wording “can/should”: is there a likely mismatch between what you realistically can do as to how often you post, and what you think you should do and either for how often you write or how consistently you space your postings apart on the calendar? If so, or if such a mismatch develops you probably need to reconsider how often you try posting, how lengthy your postings should be, or both.

If you decide that blog posting would make sense for you to pursue, let’s turn next to the questions of where to post, and more specifically to the issues of blog content ownership and editorial oversight.

• I write this blog on WordPress: a blogging platform that offers hosting services for its blog authors but that does not claim ownership or editorial oversight control over what is posted there, as long as content meets basic standards (e.g. does not include hate speech or is not used to conduct criminal activity.) This means writers to this type of site can exercise their own editorial oversight and can post content essentially entirely at their own discretion as to topic and opinion expressed.
• An alternative to this is to post a blog through a site such as the Huffington Post. This type of venue offers much greater overall visibility for a blog owner/writer, but these more formally organized and branded sites do actively impose editorial oversight and on both what is allowed to appear there and on how it is written. I have friends who write to this specific site who have to post their more political content elsewhere due to these editorial restrictions, though they do post to Huffington for content that fits into their stated and agree to topic area and that the overall site editors there would agree to having included.
• And to take this one step further, I would cite corporate-based employee blogging channels such as IBM developerWorks, where employees of those specific businesses can write and post content related to their professional activities and their areas of professional interest, but as part of a larger business owned marketing effort. This type of platform can offer enhanced online visibility and certainly when the site owning company has a reputation and the visibility of an IBM, but the general rule is that these businesses both strictly editorially control what is written and by whom, and they own the content so posted too.
• If you are considering blogging as a component of your online professionally facing presence, an early step in that decision making exercise should be to think through and research where best to post your content for these and related issues.

Next come issues of branding and appearance on the front end and usability and ease of use on the back end for writing, editing and updating postings. This means considering factors such as:

• Site appearance and branding and how much you can customize appearance for your specific blog,
• What types of content you can add to a blog categorically (e.g. embedded video clips, still photos and so on as well as basic text), and
• The quality and usability of the tools you would use.

Look for opportunities to network with and learn from the experience of people already blogging on sites and platforms that you might consider using too, and do some due diligence research on writer user experience that can be gained from online groups, and question and answer sharing sites too.

And as a final point of consideration and discussion, at least for this list, let’s consider marketing. Blog sites such as WordPress offer tools and resources that their bloggers can use in their own marketing campaigns, and both for increasing their blog visibility online and for using their blog as a tool for marketing their professional capabilities. This often includes tools that can be used to help make postings more visible on search engines, but that is only one part of this.

This type of self-marketing is also generally available for those who blog through more site-controlled channels, though their overall site-based reputations and their online market visibility can significantly add to a blogger’s more individual marketing effectiveness here too.

I am writing here of tradeoffs as much as anything else, and of making decisions up-front that might have long-term consequences. If I were to generalize this to consider online social media participation as a whole here, doing this right in meeting your own current and emerging needs calls for planning and due diligence, and is or at least should be as much a strategic exercise as an operational one.

I am going to switch from the (at least potentially) long of this and blogging, to the (absolutely required) short of it and Twitter and related social media channels next, just starting that line of discussion here. I will continue that discussion in my next series installment, and widen it to include a fuller and more diverse range of social media channels and how they can all be used coordinately and synergistically in conveying a more effective overall message. And after that I will continue developing and discussing the points of my Part 9 to-address list, as at least partly expanded in Part 10.

And with that noted, I end this posting with some opening thoughts regarding short message social media. And I begin that by offering as background references, links to two of my earliest postings here:

Problems and Opportunities in Up to 140 Characters – Twitter and business networking (written long) and
Haiku Marketing – tweeting and re-tweeting for viral marketing reach and impact.

When you write a blog posting, you can add as much as you deem necessary in order to tell a complete enough story to meet your needs. And if you have more to say than you would consider effective in just one posting, you can write connected series of them as I have throughout this blog, and in my case with many series extending into near book length discussions. You have that flexibility. But when you use short message service-limited channels such as Twitter with its 140 characters plus spaces maximum message length, your primary focus has to be on conveying a single essential message as briefly and succinctly as possible – while making that message memorable enough so that readers will want to be able to connect to you through it. I will discuss this and its consequences, and use of channels such as Twitter in your professional marketing in my next series installment, before continuing on as just noted above to complete my discussion of what you post thought social media to create an effective jobs and careers supportive marketing message.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. And you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its continuation page too. And I am also adding this specific installment to this series to my Blogs and Marketing directory too.

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