Staying Active Online and Creating a Strong Presence for Yourself on Social Media

Staying Active Online by Caitlyn Putt on Canva

Hello again, dear readers.

To finish off my short series on tips and advice for University students, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog post to something that impacts our lives on a day-to-day basis.

Each and every one of us will have had some experience with social networking sites (SNS). There is no denying that as technology progresses, SNS are reshaping the way that we interact with each other and even the professions that we aspire to enter.

For me personally, I know that having a strong, online presence is key when you are working towards a career within the media sector.

However, when I first started my course, I wasn’t as active as I am now (hard to believe, I know). I had the basic social media accounts sure, but when it came to the ones that were going to assist me in creating an online portfolio, I had no clue where to begin. It wasn’t until I studied the unit Exploring Digital Media: Contexts of Online Participation at Deakin University that I became fully aware of the extent of social media’s power within the professional industry. With many thanks to two incredible teachers, my online persona progressed to the active one that it is today.*

Below, are some tips that I have found immensely helpful in developing a professional and active portfolio across various social networking platforms.

Google yourself 

I know- Googling oneself can first appear as a narcissistic, ego-tripping exercise. However, it is valuable to do it on two accounts.

Firstly, giving yourself a Google check-up allows you to see what information is already out there on the web about yourself, particularly information that has been passed on from your social media accounts. Those embarrassing MySpace mirror selfies that you posted a when you were a teen? Yep, those are very likely still within a simple Google search’s reach. Have you got your Facebook and Instagram account set to public? Chances are whatever you have posted on a public account will be visible to a search engine. (Actually, if you do have your account set to public, type your username into Google and then search Images. Spooked yet?)

If you do find material that you weren’t expecting to see and now you’re sitting there paranoid and determined to go off the grid, Ron Swanson-style, fret not! Finding embarrassing content, particularly anything you wouldn’t want a potential future employer to see is good incentive to review your social media privacy settings.

Secondly, Googling yourself will give you a clearer idea of what employers may see appear first when they search your name. Ideally, you will want to see professional networking sites such as your LinkedIn profile and Twitter handle listed on the first page of their search- indicating that you are an active networker who engages with social media on a professional level.

Create a LinkedIn profile 

LinkedIn is one of the key SNS for professionals. When I first began University, I was not aware of LinkedIn (or had only heard it mentioned briefly) and its potential to connect with future employers. A profile on this professional networking site allows you to list your key skills, education and past job titles, as well as connecting with work colleagues past and present, past tutors and lecturers and your peers. It’s pretty much a virtual resumé that will become highly beneficial as you near finishing your degree and seeking to gain practical experience within your respective industry.

Create a Twitter profile and tweet, tweet, TWEET! 

Twitter can be a very powerful social media platform, and particularly so for those aspiring to work in journalism, communications and public relations professions. Don’t be afraid to tweet and follow others who do what you wish to do someday. Follow your peers and stay connected with them with a regular tweet or direct message. Setting up a Twitter handle is easy peasy, but remembering to tweet regularly is a skill that is only learned through doing. An active user will be rewarded over time and has the greater potential to be noticed by their future employers. A passive user will be neglected and will receive less attention.

Create a blog

Creating a blog has been the best thing I could’ve done for myself as a writer. Despite the fact I initially started it for an assignment, actively using my blog as a writing space has been such an enriching experience. If you find that you are passionate about something, how about creating a blog and sharing your words with the world? Blogging actively aids writers, allowing them to experiment with online platforms- a crucial skill in a world where print is diminishing and multimedia is on the rise!

Experiment with new social networking sites and make some online media 

The most important advice I could dish to you, dear readers is this- just give it a go. Find a social networking site that you’re not on and sign up. Trial it. What’s the worst that could happen? Perhaps you won’t like it and will decide to close the account. That’s okay, some sites aren’t for everyone. After all, we learn best through trial and error.

Also, try and experiment with making your own media. Never created a video before? Why not have a go- perhaps you will be the next up-and-coming YouTube personality! One platform I had never used before, Canva has now become one of my most frequented websites for creating blog graphics. There are so many benefits from making and using your own media content. Most significantly, you will be minimising your chances of breaching copyright law and you will be showing future employers that you have initiative.

All the best with your social networking and remember to stay active!

Until next time,

– C

* Many thanks to the amazing Emma Whatman and Dr Adam Brown who convinced me to get out there and trial new media and social networking sites. If any of my readers are thinking of taking any media and communication electives at Deakin, make sure you check-out ALC203 and ALC205. I promise you won’t be disappointed!