When it comes to professional social media platforms, LinkedIn is probably the first one that springs to mind for most people. And while LinkedIn can be a valuable platform to advance your career, it isn’t the only one. And expanding your online presence onto other platforms can come with some serious professional perks.
Being active on various social media platforms means that you have more opportunities to develop industry knowledge, network and maybe even discover your next job. In this article, we’ll expand on the benefits of using social media for your career, share which platforms are the best for professionals, and provide some useful social media tips for using these platforms to your advantage.
There are over 4 billion social media users worldwide — that is over half the global population. And the sheer number of individuals active on social media is a testament to the integral role that social networks play in today’s world. This rings particularly true for Generation Z and Millennials, the digital natives who hardly know a world without social media, whether it’s connecting with friends or watching funny cat videos.
Social media is widely accessible and allows people to connect in ways that were previously unimaginable. No matter where you live in the world, you have the opportunity to expand your professional network and connect with professionals around the world.
There are a lot of social media platforms out there. And some are better equipped than others for building a professional online presence. However, even social media platforms that aren’t exclusively oriented towards professionals could still have some benefits for your career.
So, to help you determine which platforms you should be active on, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 below.
No list of professional social media platforms would be complete without LinkedIn. With over 645 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s leading professional networking platform. Since its mission is to connect professionals, the platform provides ample opportunities to network, find jobs, build your brand and even to upskill. It’s an all-in-one platform that is invaluable for professionals at any stage in their career.
With Twitter’s ease of use and ability to quickly join relevant conversations and communities, it is no wonder it’s one of the world’s top social media platforms. With the launch of Twitter for Professionals in 2021, Twitter now provides a way for users to clearly define themselves as a professional. This way, users can better utilize the platform to meet their professional goals, such as growing an audience, networking and contributing thought leadership.
Facebook is not only one of the veterans in social media but also the most widely used social network globally. With 2.93 billion active users, it would be remiss to not leverage this platform to grow your professional presence. Since 2021, Facebook has even enabled users to switch their profiles to professional mode. This way, you can benefit from professional tools that can help you grow a following, whether as a business owner or to build your personal brand.
Meetup differs from other social media platforms in that its main purpose is to enable users to organize in-person and virtual events, rather than connect primarily within the tool. And for this reason, it’s such a beneficial platform. With Meetup, professionals can find networking opportunities and industry events where they can meet professionals in real life, rather than only on the platform.
As the largest market in Europe, Germany attracts professionals from all over the world. So, it’s no surprise that the German-oriented professional social media platform Xing is so popular. With over 10 million users in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Xing has much to offer for professionals looking to network or find a new opportunity.
Although Instagram is primarily a photo and video sharing app, it can be a great resource for professionals. This is particularly true for professionals in visually creative industries, such as graphic design or illustration. However, even if you aren’t in a creative industry, Instagram allows you to connect with people and content creators from nearly every field and sector.
In recent years, TikTok has begun to shed its reputation as a platform that is strictly for Gen Z to share their dance moves and pranks. In fact, it’s now even being regarded as a serious professional tool — and for good reason. TikTok even has a community of “CareerTok” videos that specifically cover professional topics, such as interview advice and résumé tips.
When most people think of Slack, internal communication with colleagues is probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, Slack isn’t only an internal instant messenger tool. It can also be used as a professional social media platform for networking. Through joining and creating Slack Communities, you have the opportunity to network with likeminded professionals all over the world.
With over a billion monthly visitors, Reddit is not only one of the largest online forums but also a helpful professional resource. This is because Reddit includes thousands of communities, known as “subreddits”, that cater to specific topics or interests. Since many of these subreddits are career-related, professionals can use these to find answers to any and all questions they may have.
If you’re a professional seeking to share your expertise, communicate ideas, or even establish yourself as an industry thought leader, Medium is a great resource. As an online publishing platform that allows all users to share their articles for free, it’s great for amateur writers or emerging thought leaders to develop a professional presence.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the top professional social media platforms, we’ll dive into how you can best use them to your advantage. Below are five tips for using social media professionally.
1. Be professional
Even if you’re using a social media platform that isn’t explicitly for professional purposes, it’s vital to remain professional while using it. This means you should avoid profanity or colloquialisms, and engage with others in a civil and respectful manner. If you wouldn’t speak to a coworker a certain way in the break room, then you shouldn’t speak to someone in your feed that way either.
It’s important to keep in mind that even though you’re using a digital medium, you’re still interacting with real people. So, make sure that your interactions are always kind, respectful and civil.
2. Use discretion
When sharing content on social media, it’s important to always keep in mind that what you share can be seen by the world. So, make sure to not post any confidential information or anything that could damage your reputation.
A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t want you your boss, HR department or potential future employers to see a post or comment, then it’s best to not share it.
3. Engage with others
It can be difficult to get out of your comfort zone on social media and engage with others. However, if you just read other users’ content from the sidelines and don’t actively engage, you aren’t experiencing the full benefits from networking on professional social media platforms.
Sharing posts and commenting on other users’ content is a great way to start engaging on social media. And who knows? Maybe it could lead to lasting professional connections.
4. Complete your profile
There’s a myriad of reasons why it’s vital to make sure your social media profiles are professional, complete and optimized. For one, it makes it easier for recruiters, potential employers or other users to find you.
It also makes you appear more dedicated and professional. So, make sure to really showcase your achievements and professional experience in your profile in order to put your best foot forward.
5. Post relevant content
When using social media for professional reasons, you’ll want to make sure the content is relevant to your target audience: recruiters, employers, industry experts or fellow jobseekers. So even if your cat photos garner a high amount of likes on your personal social media profiles, it doesn’t mean they’re appropriate when using social media professionally.
Some examples of appropriate content are industry news or articles, positive posts about your company, and career advice or information from your field of expertise.
When used effectively, social media platforms can be wonderful resources for boosting your career. Social media enables you to stay informed on industry trends, network with others and even discover new job opportunities.
But in order to reap these professional benefits, it’s important to use social media appropriately. Therefore, below is some advice to keep in mind when using social media professionally:
- Always conduct yourself in a professional manner and be aware that anything you share can be seen by the world.
- Social media is for, well, being social. So, make sure to engage with others to widen your professional network.
- Ensure all content you post is related to professional topics, such as career advice or industry news.
By applying the tips above, you can better leverage all the advantages that social media can have for your career. From networking to discovering jobs, social media is a truly invaluable resource for professionals at any stage.
Which social media apps do you use for your professional goals? Got any other tips you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments section below.
Originally published on April 18, 2017.