Ah, Spring: the birds sing, flowers bloom, and your social presence glistens. Wait, what’s that you say? You haven’t touched your account settings or updated your network in eons? If this is the case, then the following three steps will help you identify your goals for your social presence, holes in your professional profile, and who to unfollow.
Step 1: Scour the Internet
Begin your social Spring cleaning with a search for yourself. Use Google, Bing, or a combination of a few different search engines. Then, take a step back and imagine that you are an employer, a recent acquaintance, a news reporter, and a stalker. For each situation, think about each person’s purpose and how your content should appear in search results.
- Can an employer view your professional accomplishments, such as a portfolio, published papers, or past projects?
- Can a new acquaintance find out more about your hobbies and interests?
- Can a reporter easily get in touch with you?
- Can a stalker find your address, your vacation plans, and your photo albums?
Some of these scenarios will not be relevant for every user. Rather, these scenarios offer a way to evaluate your social presence from many angles. Once you have identified how you want to be found, who you want to find you, and what information you want people to know, you can get down to the business of cleaning.
Step 2: Polish your profile
Unlike the dynamic and real-time content that you share, create, and consume on social media sites, your profile page content remains static for the most part. This is fine if you nothing about you has changed, and social networks require different amounts of what I call “profile polishing.” Maintaining your Twitter profile requires very little effort while a LinkedIn profile necessitates more maintenance.
Twitter encourages minimal profile data by limiting profile features to include your name, location, image, a brief, 160-character bio, and a web link. Thus, you probably won’t need to update your Twitter profile often or at all. With Twitter, there is a greater need to manage your community participation and content consumption. I will touch on these ideas in Step 3.
LinkedIn is a different story. Whether your LinkedIn network consists of a few connections or thousands, you should update your profile as you grow professionally. How else will your coworkers from your days in high finance know that you left the fast lane to open up a flip-flop shop in the Bahamas?
From a job promotion to a slideshow presentation, additional information that you share on your profile gives potential employers and coworkers a better understanding of your work history, style, and goals. Here are a few questions to help you get started with updating your LinkedIn profile:
- Does your profile provide an overview of your work experience and accomplishments?
- Does your profile include a recent photo?
- Does your profile contain a recommendation for your past work?
- Does your profile contain examples of your published work, presentations, or projects?
If you’re lucky enough to be on the hiring side, these questions also apply to you. Prospective employees will review your profile to evaluate your experiences, management style, and vision.
Step 3: Take out the Twitter trash
If your news feed on Twitter presents you with more of the mundane than interesting, then it’s time to take out the trash. On Twitter, review the list of people that you follow, and ask yourself: Why do I follow this user? If you can’t answer that question, then it is probably worth your time to unfollow that user. You shouldn’t have to sift and search your Twitter feed for worthwhile reading: it should be in the feed.
Although it has become a Twitter courtesy to follow back your followers, you should not feel obligated to do so. Follow users whose content adds value to your social experience. Make it a policy to block spam accounts.
Conclusion: Hide the rest under your bed
Well, my extended metaphor is nearly complete, so I hope your social profile is sparkling. Some of these steps, such as maintaining your LinkedIn profile, can take time. Searching yourself requires ongoing checks or tracking tools like Google Alerts. For now, do what you can to spruce up your social media accounts. Then, go ahead and hide some things under your bed, grab a cold one, and check the news feed.
[Image credit: “Flowers 2.” Accessed on May 14, 2011, at http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1160312]