Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Using social media to strengthen your digital footprint

Why personal branding is important?

According to Olins (2003), a brand is:
"a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a company, product or service."

Chris Brogan (www.chrisbrogan.com) notes that a strong personal brand is a mix of reputation, trust, attention, and execution:

"A personal brand gives you the ability to stand out in a sea of similar products. In essence, you’re marketing yourself as something different than the rest of the pack."

According to Harries and Rae (2011) job seekers should:
1. remove pictures, content and links that can send the wrong message to potential
2. update social networking profiles regularly to highlight their latest accomplishments;
3. consider blocking comments to avoid questionable posts;
4. avoid joining groups whose names could turn off potential employers; and
5. consider setting their profile to private so only designated friends can view it.

The next question that someone can normally ask is the tools that a job-seeker can use in order to develop its personal brand. The most important ones are listed below:

  • A blog is different from a website because it is interactive, written in a ‘‘conversational voice’’ and frequently updated. It is potentially an effective form of viral marketing if others pass on or link back to the author’s posts in significant numbers. Blogs enable a personal brand to be enhanced by articulating knowledge on specialist matters pertaining to the industry concerned, and provide opportunities for the individual’s ‘‘story’’ to be told in a compelling and innovative way. A ‘‘network effect’’ can be created if other bloggers link to a post on the blog, or if comments are made on someone else’s blog, leading to an enhanced presence on major search engines over time. Seth Godin (www.sethgodin.com) usefully describes blogs as ‘‘Google magnets’’ for this reason (Harris and Rae, 2011).
  • By actively updating a LinkedIn profile, the likelihood that people will see that profile displayed when they are searching the site for someone to hire or do business with is increased. The regular addition of new contacts and updating of profile content also adds to an individual’s ‘‘Google Juice’’, because LinkedIn allows profile information to be made available for search engines to index and the site is highly ranked by Google. To strengthen the visibility of a profile in search engines, use it in various places online. For example, when commenting on a blog, include a link to the LinkedIn profile in the signature, then if people like what has been said, they can click through to find out more. Rather than take a risk on a total stranger, most people prefer to work with people who their friends know and trust. In order to progress job applications to interview stage, a ‘‘complete’’ LinkedIn profile is now becoming a prerequisite for many recruiters in order to progress an application to the interview stage. A ‘‘complete’’ profile displays a minimum of three testimonials from past employers, and includes full details of the person’s employment, affiliations and educational background. Including appropriate keywords in the profile can also increase the chance of being found by recruiters who are searching for likely applicants in that area of interest (Harris and Rae, 2011).
  • Twitter is the service that allows people to keep abreast of trends and stay in touch with their contacts with a level of immediacy, regularity and intimacy that would be hard to replicate in the offline world. For employers, Twitter is another channel which connects current and potential employees with the business and helps to build loyalty. Effective Twitter usage necessarily involves an investment in time and attention so it is important to be selective in both the quality and quantity of people followed. In terms of building a personal brand, Twitter can help establish someone as a well connected, knowledgeable and approachable personality, and allow them to interact with other like-minded people, as well as keep them informed of specific job vacancies that may be flagged up by their contacts (Harris and Rae, 2011).

Facebook useful applications:
BranchOut is a Facebook app for career networking. Your LinkedIn profile can be imported to BranchOut, so you have a professional profile on Facebook. You can browse your friends on Facebook to see where they have worked. You can browse and share jobs that people within your career network have posted. If you're hiring, you can post jobs for free  ().
Business Cards 
Business Cards allows users to network better on Facebook. You can personalize your card and attach it to your Facebook messages. This application is much like the signature common in email messages. Users can enter information they want to appear on their virtual business card.
CareerBuilder Facebook App
Users can have updated job and internship postings delivered directly from CareerBuilder to their profiles. Information such as location and career interest is used to send you the most relevant job profiles. You can follow a link directly from the job listing to apply for it. Users have the option to search by keyword, location and category ().
Professional Profile
Similar to the standard Facebook profile, this app allows users to create a professional one, where they become part of a network. Users can post resumes and recommendations that they can import from Linkedin accounts. They can also browse other user profiles and see resumes that were made public. Users simply upload their resumes to begin using professional Profile.
My LinkedIn Profile
This application makes it easy to promote your LinkedIn account with a badge on your Facebook profile. Users insert their LinkedIn profiles hyperlink and Facebook takes care of the rest  ().

All in all the importance on strengthening our digital footprint can be summed up in this short video:

During this second activity of Leicester Award I have understood the importance of social media in job-seeking activities. What is more, I have learned that creating a strong digital footprint, that can provide basic information about myself to future employers can work to my advantage. I have decided to create and keep an updated LinkedIn profile and to keep most of my social media profiles private. What is more, I will keep writing on this blog even after finishing the Leicester Award in order to provide potential employers with information about my experiences, activities and latest accomplishments. The amount of employers currently using social media and the internet in order to get an idea about a potential employee is huge, so I should use it for my advantage.

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