An independent contractor's online presence is a valuable way to improve your professional image, gain attention from recruiters and clients, and ultimately get more work. Strengthening this snapshot of yourself, especially on social media, is an opportunity to demonstrate that you are up-to-speed with the latest, relevant trends in your field, something particularly important to organizations who require competitive IT teams. It is also what will take a recruiter from "This person could be qualified, I'll try calling them" to "I need to meet this professional so I can present them to my clients".
Knowing that you need to improve your online image and social media presence is one thing, but doing it can be an entirely different challenge. As with any strategy in business, you need to start with a plan and, once it's carried out, measure the results to ensure it's working. What exactly should you track to ensure you're taking the right steps on your social networks?
Tracking Your Social Followers
The first and obvious number people like to follow when evaluating their social success is the number of people who follow them -- friends on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn or followers on Twitter. It is an easy item to watch and see trends if you're successful, but in reality, does not give a proper snapshot of your success. Take a look at your list of followers. How many of them are going to help you get a job? Are they even in your industry... or your country? Having a lot of followers makes us feel good about ourselves, but it doesn't necessarily mean your network is valuable. Tracking your social followers is often referred to as tracking a "vanity metric".
Tracking Your Engagement on Social Media
The real metric you want to track is engagement. This includes clicks, likes, shares and comments on the posts you share. It is how you know if your network is finding value in what you post, or if you're just sharing a bunch of spammy articles that become clutter in a news feed. These could be considered misleading vanity metrics if the engagement is from irrelevant people; but at the same time, even a share from somebody who is separate from your profession may get shared again and seen by your future client. Overall, engagement is what you want to strive for.
Engagement is also more than just the clicks, likes, shares and comments. More valuable are the conversations that may result from your social presence. When evaluating your success, ask yourself if anybody struck up a conversation based on something you shared. Or did a connection contact you out of the blue for some sort of advice?
Another tool to understand engagement is a combination of a personal website and Google Analytics. When sharing a detailed opinion, why not make it a blog post and link to a website that also has your resume? You can then use Google Analytics to understand how many people are visiting your page and where they're coming from.
Improving your Social Media Engagement
If you start tracking your engagement and realize it is not very positive, nor is it showing signs of improvement, there are a few simple tasks you can try:
Engage as well. Like every conversation in life, social media is a two-way street. Remember to respond to comments and engage with other people's posts.
Track what was successful. Review the posts that saw the most engagement and identify trends in topics or the time of day it was shared. Continue to build from that momentum with similar posts.
Encourage people to follow you. Add a link to your social profiles everywhere, including signature blocks, business cards and resumes. Just remember to leave off the networks where you don't always portray a professional image or you share political posts (ex. Facebook and Pinterest).
Over the last decade, businesses, governments, and charities have proven over and over that a successful social media presence results in major success. Many independent IT contractors have also jumped on board and no longer need to search for work, the work finds them. When you will begin?