|By Dan Gasser, Marketing Specialist at Eagle|
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In a couple previous posts we've provided tips to get started on LinkedIn and even how to leverage the social platform to grow your network and find opportunities. LinkedIn is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social media. According to a survey Eagle completed over the Winter of 2014, LinkedIn is the most used social network by independent contractors (94% say they're already on it), with Facebook (79%), Google+ (39%), and Twitter (32%) being the next most popular. So which social networks should you be using? More importantly, how can you use them to leverage your business?
Let's take a deeper look at the three noted above. There is no right or wrong in choosing the networks you wish to participate in, but whatever you decide, remember it should be all or nothing -- either commit to managing your profile on a social network or drop it completely.
Facebook is the world's largest and most popular social network. It's a great place to connect with friends, family, neighbours and people with the same general interests. You can share your life stories, relationships, pictures and comments about your personal opinions. Since most people like to keep business and pleasure separate, it's not always the place to connect with clients and colleagues.
That said, if you are on Facebook, you can still take some steps to enhance your professional image. First, join a few groups related to your expertise. Although people won't be there for official business, you'll still meet people with common interests and relationships may develop into more professional opportunities later. You can also follow specific people or companies. Different from actually becoming a friend, following people means their updates will show up in your newsfeed, but they can't see your secure profile and you can't see theirs.
Speaking of secure profiles, make sure your profile is secure. Go to your privacy settings and make sure you're comfortable with how they're set. Specifically, make it so only friends can see parts of your profile and status updates. Whether you want them to or not, recruiters and clients are going to look for you on Facebook. Ensure your profile picture is respectable (it doesn't have to be professional, but you should also avoid a beer bottle in your hand), and ensure that anything available is acceptable.
Google+ is Google's social network. It has many different pieces and brings together Google's many services, including Google Hangouts, Google Business, and YouTube (Note: According to the survey referenced above, 39% of independent contractors also use YouTube). Google+ is a post all on its own, so we will take a look at it in a future post.
To create a Google+ profile, you need to have a Google account. At one point, this meant a Gmail address, but now, you can create a Google account with any email address. If you're already using a service like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Analytics, or YouTube, you already have a Google Account.
Once your Google+ profile is set-up, find people you already know and add them to "circles". Circles are a simply way to organize the people you're following. For example, if you connect with many recruiters on Google+, you could add them all to a circle called "Recruiters". When you click on that circle, you'd only see updates from your recruiters -- it would be potentially a circle filled with new contract opportunities!
Google+ is also great for Hangouts, which is like your own personal chat room or user group. Create a hangout and invite specific people to join, then schedule times for all of you meet and discuss certain items. You can even use video hangouts to have a real-time face-to-face meeting as a group!
Among their many other features, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn all allow you to post status updates. Twitter only allows you to post status updates. A common misconception is that you can then only use Twitter to tell people what you had for breakfast and complain about your life. The truth is, as long as you can write your post in 140 characters, you can share it -- including articles! Twitter is a great way to share content with people, whether you create it or find it on another site.
To get started with Twitter, once you've create your account, search for people/organizations to follow. This can be as simple as searching people you know or typing an interest into the search bar. For example, if you search "social media", you will find people who tweet a lot about social media. If you go to a website you visit frequently, you can also find their Twitter handle to get their most recent updates. (To get updates from the Talent Development Centre, follow us at @eagleTalent)
When you start with Twitter, don't worry about tweeting anything immediately. Just follow as many people as you can and get an understanding of how they use Twitter. Eventually you'll get a feel of how the Twitterverse works and how you want to take advantage of it. From there start slowly, Tweeting your favourite articles and sharing your own insight and comments. Don't forget to retweet and engage with your followers and the people you're following!
That's our high-level look at the top social media platforms for independent contractors. Does it answer any of your questions? Is there anywhere you'd like to know more? Ask and we shall deliver! Leave us your suggestions in the comments below.