There are plenty of non-believers out there when it comes to social media, but the usefulness of it simply cannot be denied any longer. It is a simple way to stay locally and globally connected with friends, family, potential business partners, companies, and customers. And not to mention the SEO power social media now has when it comes to Google rankings. Social media reaches far beyond just connecting. It has another, not so obvious use: credibility. This article is going to cover the initial essentials of properly filling out 3 popular, personal, credibility-building social media sites. No longer will any of you newcomers to social media need to ask, “Do I really need to fill that part out?”
When someone goes to Google your name or company and your social profile(s) show up, and they’re properly filled out with your name and other standard information of that sorts—that gives you some credibility to start. And let’s face it, if someone hears about your company (especially via the Internet) then one of the first things they might want to do is follow or ‘like’ your social page—if it’s not properly filled out, that’s the fastest way to lose an ‘about to be’ new follower. Having your profiles properly filled out gives you one less thing to worry about when it comes to your social media marketing strategy. Taking the time to do this when you create an account will help you to start getting noticed and being trusted, effortlessly (after the initial work).
In one of our previous articles, A Basic Guide to Social Media Header and Profile Image Dimensions, we discuss how it's believed to take only a tenth of a second for someone to form an impression of a stranger based on their face. So again, imagine how fast someone can form an impression off a quick glance at your social media profile. Credibility and social trust all start with a thoughtfully filled out social media profile, then you build on it, and can more firmly establish it from there with your content and personal interactions.
Profile Picture: Facebook is a bit more personal and fun than say, LinkedIn. Here you can get away using a photo that shows your personality or interests when it comes to a profile picture. Even a group photo or photo with a couple friends can be appropriate in this case. The one type of photo we would advise against is any ‘red-eye, funny lighting, crazy drinking photos’. You know the ones. Just use some common sense in this department.
Cover Photo: This is the perfect place to use a high-quality image of your favorite landscape photo, a group photo, your favorite piece of art, or a nice digital image. Whatever you do, you don’t want to leave this part blank. Even a solid image of your favorite color would do better than leaving it blank (which, in this case, means gray, as that’s the default). Bonus points if you can match the color scheme of your profile photo and cover image!
Real Name: Please, for the sake of all of us, use your real name. No one is going to be able to find you under a nickname used between you and 2 of your closest friends. If you receive a friend request from a name like “John BaconLoverSmith” you’re going to question whether or not you should accept it, and what kind of content is going to be showing up in your feed if you do. But that part aside, like we said, no one is going to be able to find you or know to search those specific words unless you tell them, and that wrecks the premise of this entirely.
Intro: Chose your words wisely. This part is a must for filling out appropriately. The whole world, friends or not friends, will be able to see this little blurb about you. Something along the lines of “Content marketer with a passion for cooking.” Or “WVU Alum with a degree in marketing. Loves watching movies and writing poetry.” ...you get the picture. A couple subtler, yet defining characteristics, or hobbies combined with your occupation, location, or alum status is a solid go-to for filling this out. Putting your favorite quote or life mantra wouldn’t be a bad choice either—as long as it’s appropriate, and you’re putting something here.
Feature Photos: This is a newer feature on Facebook. It’s the perfect place if you have chosen a more “you” centered photo as your profile picture, to select a few photos of you and your friends or family or you pursuing your hobbies. These show up under your intro as a little overview of your interests or eye for photography. Making little shortcuts for people to get a better feel for who you are and what you like can certainly come in handy.
Work, Schooling, and Current City: These three are personal. If you’re not comfortable putting them out there, then there’s a way to make it private and make it so that someone will have to hit an ‘ask’ button, that way you can choose whether to tell them or not. Having this as private is more legitimate than not having them filled out at all. Again, it’s just another way to be found and build a network of people with similarities. If you don’t choose to put your current job or current city, then we’d at least suggest putting your upper-level schooling. You might be surprised at the connections you make or opportunities that come from fellow alum.
Profile Photo: Extremely Important. In the ‘who to follow; section in the top right corner of Twitter, the only 3 things that appear are your profile photo, your name, and a follow button. This means that your profile photo is going to have to be good enough to entice someone to click on it and follow you—or at least want to view your profile and take a closer look before following you. This is where you’re going to hook your prospective follower. Your header photo will reel them in some more, then the actual content of your tweets should get them to click that blue follow button. We suggest a photo that is mainly your face because the image is smaller than most and doesn’t really enlarge.
Header Photo: As mentioned in the ‘Profile Photo’ section above, the header photo will be the second thing people see after clicking your profile photo and being taken to your profile. Here’s an opportunity to use a favorite landscape or art piece, or even better, something that relates to you. If it’s a more professional account, an image relating to your profession or explaining what your profession is would be ideal. Have some fun, but again, try to use a high-quality image.
About: Another important feature to fill out. If your profile and header photo doesn’t begin to tell the story of who you are – this is where you want to make it clear. Your profession, your hobbies, etc. are the types of things you want to put here (See Intro in the Facebook section above for examples).
Website Link: Because you can’t fit everything you might want to on Twitter, especially with the 140-character limit in tweets, this is important. If you have a company website or personal website or portfolio, link to that. If you have none of those, link to another social media platform that has more room for your story.
Tweets: This is where someone will really decide whether they’re going to follow you or not. You want to have entertaining, informative, and interactive tweets. No one has time to follow a robot or want to be overloaded with too many personal comments or invaluable/un-relatable content. You’ll need to find the perfect balance for a successful account. You might also need to decide what type of account you’re going to have, and focus on a certain industry or certain kind of information.
Following/Followers: Follow other reputable Twitter users. If someone still isn’t sure if they’re going to follow you after evaluating everything else above they might take a look at whom you follow. If it’s a lot of robots, fake accounts, or accounts trying to sell something, then they’re most likely not going to want to follow you. Also, by following accounts like that, those types of accounts will automatically follow you. Those are useless followers. They’re not going to get you anywhere as far as attracting followers or clientele. Your goal is to get quality interactive followers for a credible useful account. It’s also important to remember that when starting out, if another credible person follows you and you like their content, follow them back! The easiest way to lose followers starting out is not following the credible, relatable accounts back.
Profile Photo: This is your first impression on LinkedIn, so you’re going to want to have one—and more importantly than that, you’re going to want it to be your professional side. Facebook is where you can take your fun photos; LinkedIn is a professional networking social site. This is for work and work-related opportunities only. A professional-looking photo is a must. We suggest a photo in a nice top where your face in the main focus—think something like a school photo, except more grown up. Think of LinkedIn as the email you have your close friends proofread before sending to a future employer, while Facebook is the email you send to your close friends asking them to proofread that might not start with a capital letter or have punctuation.
Cover Photo: Maybe not as important as the other two social sites mentioned, but important nonetheless. This is where you can try and squeeze in some personality. A nice photo of where you work or the city your office is located in would be perfect here. This would also be a good place for an image that might graphically explain or relate to your profession.
Real Name: If you are ever to use your real name on a social media site, this is the one to use it on. Think of it as if you were filling out information on a job application. You want people to be able to easily find you after connecting in person. And again, this is a professional network. A real name is a professional name.
Headline: This is what people will see along with your name and profile photo. Here’s your chance to interest them enough to click on you. This is where you want to have your current profession, the profession you are seeking, or a list of things that you specialize in. We advise against quotes. Ask yourself, “What is best going to let people know what I am experienced in?”
Location: It’s more important to fill this out on LinkedIn than on any other social site. This is how you are going to find professionals in your area, or the area you are trying to relocate to. This is an important part of narrowing down and finding matches for job searches, and the right people to connect with.
Industry: This is significant too, as it’s another LinkedIn feature that will better match you to jobs you might be interested in and again, the right people to connect with.
Summary: This will be the first substantial amount of information someone will read once they make it to your profile. This is where you’ll want to write an overview of your experience or insert something more along the lines of a personal statement. LinkedIn is sort of set up like a digital resume, except you get more room than one piece of paper. Cover the broader more important points of your experience and focus more on a little bit of personality in this section. You’ll have plenty of room to go into detail about your experiences in the experience section.
Experience: This is where you can get into the nitty-gritty of your experience; it’s where you’ll list all of your previous jobs and current job(s). Make sure you take advantage of the space allotted and give as much detail as possible about each job. Some resumes now even mention their LinkedIn profiles so people can read on if they’re interested (and to save space on the resume). Resumes nowadays should be summarized versions of one’s LinkedIn page. We suggest breaking down the information that details your position into bullet points, or smaller paragraphs so that it’s easier to read and pick important information out.
Skills & Endorsements: Make it easier for people who know you and your work and want to endorse you. When you fill this section out, it lets people know what you’re good at. Things like Social Media Strategy, Inbound Marketing, Adobe Photoshop, Public Speaking, etc. There is a limit to how many you can add, so choose carefully. These are important because it goes beyond you just saying you’re experienced in something; it allows others to give you credibility by endorsing the skills listed. It’s a double-win to have this section filled out.
Education: The point of LinkedIn is to showcase your experience and skills. We all know, though, that in today’s world, higher education (well, having it), is important. If you’re only a few years out of college, don’t forget to put your GPA if it’s impressive. You never know what alumni are out there who would be keener on opening up doors to someone who shares their alma mater and did well there.
Certifications: Stand out by filling this out! It doesn’t necessarily have to be work-related certification—adding scuba diving can show the world that you have a completely different set of skills that could be of use. This is where you want to put if you’re AdWords certified or HubSpot certified, or any other special classes you may have taken that show you’re willing to put in the work to be that much better.
Honors & Awards: This is another important place to stand out. What better way to make someone believe you do great work than by showing them you’ve won an award or two for it? And for those of you who are fresh out of college, again—don’t feel silly putting Summa Cum Laude or Cum Laude on there as an honor—not everyone makes it out of college with that title; you worked hard for it, and it should appear on your profile if it was earned.
Projects, Volunteers, Additional Info. Languages, Groups, Following, Publications, Causes you care about, Patents, Courses, Test Scores, Organizations, and Volunteering Opportunities: Everything we mentioned above we would consider the basics. These other sections mentioned are extras. You have to remember that as you’re adding more and more things you need to make sure they’re ordered on your profile where the most important are at the top, and then you rank down from there. These are also sections that can be added or removed from your profile as you evolve and grow in your career. If you’re already well established in your career, you may not want your SAT score on your profile. However, to a college student or recent graduate aiming for graduate school—something like that makes more sense. The more information you have about yourself, the better your profile will be. However, as mentioned before, make it easy for the people looking at your profile—give them the most important things first.
Share an update/Write an article: Most people tend to share an update at some point after creating their account. ‘Write an article’, though, is a feature that often gets overlooked on LinkedIn, and it’s a way to really up your chances of getting seen and establishing authority. Take the time to come up with a few article ideas around your profession—it can be opinion-oriented, entertaining, or educational. And you don’t necessarily have to be posting on a regular basis. A couple articles here and there will really make your profile shine.
Take the time to fill out each of these sections on the social media profiles mentioned above, and you will be well on your way to social success. Even people who tweet thoughtfully, or take the time to personally write a great message might raise some eyebrows if their profile isn’t filled out to its fullest potential. Make the best impression you can the first time around. You’ll thank us later.
Can-Do Ideas is a Digital Marketing agency specializing in Inbound Marketing and Inbound Sales. We are located in New York City and Connecticut.