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It’s a common misconception that professional development comes from what formal education we have, what degrees we hold and what training programs we have completed. Unbeknownst to the masses, a large proportion of our success actual derives from our personal networks, in particular, our social media profiles. These are more commonly referred to as personal learning networks (PLNs), and once you take control of them, you can boost yourself to new levels of success you may not have thought was possible.
Today, we’ll explore how to take back control of your social media presence, transforming it into a tool you can use to boost your professional development.
Be Aware of Your PLN
Some of us may already have medium to large size PLNs; we simply don’t know it yet. At its core, a PLN is a network of relationships. Within this network, many individuals are involved in sharing, recognising and understanding information on both a personal and a professional level. In the past, these interactions used to be refined to face-to-face interactions. However, nowadays, any one of the five main social media platforms can be used to communicate with these individuals no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
For a basic example, imagine one of your friends or colleagues shares a post that describes a new marketing strategy. You may engage with that post, sharing it with your followers within your professional networks, for example, LinkedIn. Your version of the post then starts to receive likes, comments and shares, proving that it’s a popular subject. You may then aim to bring this topic to your business, describing the idea to your peers and how it can benefit your company. You organise a meeting, and the project moves forward from there. This is the simplest way in which a PLN operates. For more information on the definition of PLNs, refer to Teach Hub’s Professional Development section.
Expanding Your PLN
The first thing you’ll want to do while taking control of your PLN is to expand and refine your network. You may be following several pages or groups from years ago that are no longer relevant to your interests. If you see these pop up on your feed, unfollow them to clean up the clutter. Alternatively, you could go through your followers in one day, clearing out everything that no longer appeals to you.
From here, you can start building your network. This means following the leaders of your industry and the groups and pages that will give you the information you’re looking for directly, leaving minimal room for misinterpretation or ‘Chinese whispers’. If you’re in the marketing industry, look for the authoritative figures in your field. These can include companies that conduct market surveys and studies as well as the leading employees of the global companies. For up to date information on the happenings behind the scenes of the biggest social media platforms, Social Media Today is a comprehensive resource to keep you up to date.
Also note that platforms such as Twitter enable you to create lists of followers so you can group certain pages up into different topics, enabling you to access the precise information you want when you require it.
Ensuring You Post Regularly
As you start to build up your following and become an authoritative figure for your followers, it’s important that you post regularly so people don’t get bored or believe you’re inactive. Unfortunately, once a week probably isn’t enough, and you’ll want to be looking more at 3-4 times a week, sometimes more, depending on your industry. Take note of how often the accounts you follow post and try and align with them. If you simply don’t have the time to create the content yourself, consider seeking the assistance of websites such as UK Top Writers who can create content on your behalf.
One of the most important aspects of social media is keeping up appearances. This means keeping your profile up to date at all times. Some things to consider include your profile picture, your biography or profile description and your methods of contact.
Perfect Your Content
No matter who you are or what you’re posting, there are a couple of guidelines you can use to ensure that your posts are as effective as possible. As you can imagine, this varies from platform to platform, but the core guidelines remain the same. This includes keeping your posts short, precise and to the point as well as remembering to include relevant images in your posts. Statistically, posts with images have a much higher engagement and click-through rate, so it’s worth investing your time. If you don’t have the time to organise and perfect your content, custom writing services are always on hand to provide you with this professional service.
Never Stop Learning
As with any kind of process or project, there’s inevitably going to be a learning curve. Some posts you upload may not have the desired effect nor the engagement rates that you first anticipated. This doesn’t matter. Learn from your mistakes and use the built-in analytical tools to monitor your posts so you can see what works and what doesn’t.
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About the Author
Rachel Summers is a freelance writer whose passion is helping students get the most out of their learning journey. She started out as a writer and journalist in the newspaper industry, before breaking out to go freelance and follow her own passions. Her writing is designed to help you get the most out of college.