Kat Boogaard

Dear Kat: How to Leverage Social Media to Boost Your Professional Reputation

Blog Post created by Kat Boogaard on May 5, 2017

Social media. You know it’s a big deal. In fact, 69% of the population uses some form of social media today.


But, beyond sharing photos from your latest vacation or keeping up with what your out-of-state relatives are up to, there are plenty of ways to leverage social media to not only share personal updates—but also to boost your professional reputation.


That’s what today’s “Dear Kat” question touches on:


“Dear Kat, I love social media. But, I really only use it personally. I know plenty of people use it to further their careers, but I feel really uncertain about how to do that. It seems like such a fine line to walk! Do you have any tips?”


I’ll admit that social media can present some murky waters to navigate. Today, our work lives and personal lives are more integrated than ever—and your social accounts are just the icing on that  cake! You want to send the right message about who you are as a professional, without coming across as too stiff or inauthentic.


Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to use social media to elevate your professional reputation—while still being yourself.


1. Think Beyond LinkedIn

Despite the fact that the lines have become blurred between our personal and professional lives, many people still try to compartmentalize their social media usage.


It goes like this: LinkedIn is for professional use and every other network should be personal. But, believe me when I tell you that definitely isn’t the case.


I love LinkedIn, but Twitter is often much more helpful to me when it comes to networking. Instagram has helped me grow a devoted following for my own website and blog posts—even though I still share plenty of personal snapshots of my rescued terrier mutt.


If you’re aiming to leverage social media as a tool in your career, don’t limit yourself to thinking that means you only need to step up your game on LinkedIn. There are plenty of ways to use the other networks as well!


2. Follow Influencers

Next up, you want to fill your feed with relevant, interesting, and engaging updates that you might want to share with your own audience (more on that a little later!).


The best place to start is by seeking out various influencers on your social media platforms. Maybe you want to follow that author you admire on Instagram or LinkedIn. Or, perhaps you want to follow that speaker, leader, or business owner on Twitter.


Of course, you can continue to engage and interact with your family, friends, and the people you know personally. But, pepper a few career or industry-relevant professionals in there too! That will give you plenty of content that you can share to boost your own reputation.


3. Share Their Updates

Speaking of sharing content, this is a great place to start if you’re just dipping your toes into the water of using social media as part of your professional brand.


Generating your own content or coming up with your own things to say can feel overwhelming (and maybe even a little unnatural!) at first. This is why you’ll be glad that you followed those influencers—you can simply share, repost, or retweet the things that they’re posting.


Do that, and your own social account will be the perfect blend of some personal touches, while also including some professional updates—so, can rest assured that you look both career-driven and well-balanced.


Need an example? Check out this snippet from my own Twitter profile. There’s an article I retweeted (and coincidentally also wrote) about freelancing—a topic that’s obviously near and dear to me—for an industry blog. But, right below it, there’s a more humorous personal tweet about my experience in my first spin class (which, yes, really was that dreadful).


Remember, using social media as a tool for your professional identity doesn’t mean you need to be strictly business. It’s called social media—which means people still want to get a feel for your personality.


4. Join Groups

Another reason it’s called social media? Because it’s very purpose is to connect you with people.


One of the best ways to do that is by joining in on groups or relevant discussions. Join a LinkedIn or Facebook group. Use a related hashtag when posting on Instagram. Find an industry Twitter chat and chime in with your two cents!


Despite the name social media, it can often seem like you’re throwing your carefully crafted updates into a giant black hole—the internet can feel almost overwhelmingly anonymous.


So, by making the effort to participate in groups and conversations about topics you care about, you’re sure to use social media for its intended purpose—relationship building—while connecting with like-minded (and even not-so-like-minded!) people.


When you think about using social media professionally, it’s easy to just think about beefing up your LinkedIn presence. However, all of your accounts can be a great benefit to your professional reputation.


I’ll admit that it can feel challenging to walk that tightrope between keeping things professional—but still personal and friendly—on social media. But, I promise that it’s not nearly as tough as you think!


Implement these strategies, and you’re sure to leverage social media to elevate your professional reputation—without coming off as overly stiff, formal, and impersonal.