This week's topic was titled "Social Media and your Career". In 2016 the two terms almost go hand in hand as we are well and truly living in the digital age. It has never been more applicable and to most employers, a necessity, to be involved to some extent with social media.
According to Social Media Statistics Australia, the number of Australian users on Facebook in Feb 2015 was 13,800,00, the number of Unique Australian Views on YouTube was 13,500,000; WordPress.com was 6,1000,000; Tumblr was 4,700,00; and Instagram was 4,000,000. These Statistics are Australian only - the reach that Social Media platforms have worldwide are staggering. Anecdotally, my first grad-job after uni; my direct sales manager told me that the HR team vetted me via my FaceBook profile before they even picked up the phone to ask me for an interview, and that this was a typical process for them when hiring. An article published by Forbes wrote "The Facebook page is the first interview; if you don’t like a person there, you probably won’t like working with them."
OK, so why is social media important? Well the numbers don't lie: most businesses have an identity online, as do most people and that information is easily accessible by anybody who has an internet connection. What better way to compare both businesses and employees than by browsing their personal webpages? The benefits to social media are numerous, but the article specifies the ways in which to leverage these platforms, assuming the benefits are understood.
The first point is that students should start utilising the various forms of social media now, and not wait until they've graduated to start creating profiles. This is because social media, like in real life, is an always evolving, growing process. It's important to start developing relationships with people in the industry now so that they have time to mature so that by the time you do graduate, you have at least the semblance of a industry network in your desired field. To reiterate the first point I made - the numbers don't lie and it's a fact that there are online connections to every industry in business. It's simply a matter of connecting with them. An article published by Business Insider wrote "LinkedIn is a formidable professional networking platform as well as a powerful job board and search engine. The fact that a full 94% of recruiters use social media, in particular LinkedIn, to fill open positions should get you excited."
Of course this can be a daunting process - there are dozens of social media platforms ranging from FaceBook and Twitter, to YouTube and LinkedIn, and more are appearing every other week. The article addresses the issue as to 'where to start' by suggesting that we choose 3 objectives that are relevant to us and our career right now - yes these will change by the time we graduate, but we'l cross that bridge when we get to it. By identifying 3 objectives we can help narrow down the social media platforms we should engage with.
For instance, I wish to better my drawing skills, build a larger portfolio and increase my skill set specifically in 3D art. In order to achieve these objectives, I can use the following social media: I can use YouTube as a means to subscribe to a number of established and talented artists who can help me better my drawing skills by way of instructional videos and tutorials. I can use Instagram to follow other artists from different disciplines so that I can be inspired by their work daily and in doing so generate new ideas to help me increase my own portfolio. I can use LinkedIn to follow game development companies and track their articles to see what resources I should be looking into in order to build upon my 3D skill set.
The third point that the article speaks of is to engage with other people within the industry of your choosing. This is especially important as it goes hand in hand with the first point made of starting to build your network now. By interacting with people in the industry you are creating a foot print. You're shaking hands and having conversations - this way you are now visible in that space. People will remember you for good or for bad as long as you make that effort and an impression. This then becomes a vital tool once you've graduated and you start looking for work because you can go straight to those same people who are already in the industry and leverage those relationships to further your career. Of course it's never a good idea to simply ask these people for a job, but by keeping in touch, over time, you'll naturally speak of your desire and if an opportunity arises for work, one of those contacts may very well approach you with an offer.
Having an online presence opens you up to a new type of harassment and is the fourth point in the article. Anonymity allows people a mask behind which they feel obliged to attack other people. Unfortunately this is quite prevalent on social media and cannot be avoided however it's not always bad. The article makes mention that other people online tend to forgive and support those starting out, but turn on a dime when threatened by a persons success. Again, this is typical human nature - the internet just makes it that much easier for people to be critical. Dealing with this type of criticism will depend on the person, but it's best to simply ignore the naysayers and embrace those who support you whenever possible. An article published by ABC touches on 5 Ways to handle and prevent online harassment. There are plenty of tools online to help mitigate the nastiness which may inevitably rear its head. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/We_Find_Them/ways-handle-prevent-cyber-harassment/story?id=15973742abcnews.go.com/Technology/We_Find_Them/ways-handle-prevent-cyber-harassment/story?id=15973742
Finally we talk about increasing outreach and keeping those who are invested in you with the use of newsletters. Newsletters are a long standing method of updating groups of people at once - my old primary school and high school used to send these out each week in order to update my parents on what was happening with the school, highlighting student achievements and notifying them of anything urgent, events, fairs etc. Even online newsletters are used by most companies as a means to achieve the same purpose and one you have set up an online presence there's nothing stopping you from sending out your own newsletters; in fact, you should! Even if you don't have a 'company', you yourself are a brand and can promote to your followers what you are up to. Keep people engaged by notifying them of current projects, projected work, collaborations or even simply journal your career. It's a simply form of engagement and can only serve to assist your online image.
To summarize - it's important that we all take the time to invest in social media - especially those of us in the creative industry and that's because our work is typically viewed or heard online. Having a social media presence, especially a large one allows people who like what you do, to follow you and support you. Additionally, by having multiple accounts, you cater to all the potential followers who only subscribe to a certain type of social media. begin sooner rather than later and constantly update your platforms - it's a cumulative payoff which bears fruits down the track - trust me, I know first hand. Look where I've written this blog...