Social media is a staple skill that all media professionals need to master if they want to be successful in their careers. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all valuable platforms for journalists and those in the media industry when it comes to informing the public. Additionally, social media helps professionals across all careers build their personal brands, follow trends, connect with audiences and drive traffic and attention to their work.
For this week’s blog post, I decided to discuss these ideas with one of the masters of social media today. Sree Sreenivasan is currently the Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. I first saw him speak at the New York Times Travel Show in January 2015, and his ideas and lessons about social media have stuck with me since. In a phone interview last week, Sreenivasan gave me even more advice on how professionals can use social media to be successful in their careers.
Use social media to find new ideas and sources, and to follow trends.
According to Sreenivasan, successful journalists and those in the media industry use social media before, during and after events and breaking news. “They use it to find ideas, sources and trends,” says Sreenivasan. “It’s absolutely critical for media professionals and journalists.”
First, follow important pages on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with news and trending topics. Both of these social sites have specific areas that highlight the most popular topics being discussed every day.
Second, engage with these outlets that are relaying these ideas and trends. By engaging with them, journalists can potentially find sources for their own reporting. According to Sreenivasan, engagement could mean retweeing those top people and favoriting their tweets. On Facebook, add comments, share links and tag pages and profiles in statuses to incorporate others into the discussion.
Use social media to create and enhance your brand.
“Think of your own social media as an extension of yourself and your career,” says Sreenivasan. No matter your profession, your social media profile and the content you share should reflect your career, your ideas and who you are as a professional.
According to Sreenivasan, a few easy ways to do this is to have a recognizable, recent photo. Next, he says to have a social media bio that is edited and polished so that it represents the best, most current you. (A.k.a. don’t say you work for company A, when you actually work for company B now – keep it up to date). Then, your username should be clear and as close to your real name as possible. Lastly, be transparent about what you’re doing and what content you’re sharing. Specify this in your bio so your followers know what to expect.
Use social media to drive traffic and attention to your work.
Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are great for sharing your personal articles and achievements, and informing your audience about the work you are doing in your career. But be strategic with the amount of self-promotion you do.
“Don’t just promote yourself,” says Sreenivisan. “One in every five items [you share] should be about you. Then you’ll be fine.” Sreenivasan suggests targeting a few topics to discuss, comment and post about. For example, my personal Twitter account (@HilareyAnn) is all about career success, as you’ll easily see by the hashtags I use and content I share often. Additionally, my bio explains that I am a career enthusiast. I strategically pick what I want to share and tweet out to my audience, and Sreenivasan says that is important.
“You should spend about three to six minutes on every tweet,” he said. “Think about each tweet and how people will think of you.”
Use social media to connect on a deeper level with your audience.
Your audience is an important part of your success not only on social media, but in your career, too. Sreenivasan suggests building your community before using them as sources of information for something related to your work.
“Nurture your community,” he says. “You can’t just announce that you need their help. You need to work at it over time.” And when you do engage with your audience on a deeper level, you’ll make connections that will last into the future. It’s about building relationships and partnerships that are mutually beneficial.
Overall, social media is an important part of being successful in one’s career today. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or another platform, use it wisely and think in terms of your career at all times.
“It’s about intentionality, specificity and clarity,” says Sreenivasan. “Many journalists do one or two of these things, but few do all four. Successful media professionals do all four of these across all platforms and smarter media professionals use them for work.”