5 Ways to Get More Experience in Social Media

People ask me all the time how they can get experience working in social media, and while there are a variety of answers, I thought I’d offer up five ways that I would suggest gaining such experience.

Social Media Channels1. Set up your own accounts.

While I hope that this would be a given, I’m surprised at how many students want to work in social media, but don’t even have a personal Twitter account. Therefore, one of the best ways you can increase your knowledge of social media channels is to leverage them for yourself. Not only will you learn how to use each channel, and discover the unique features of each, but you can then position your own channels to market yourself for jobs. And coming from someone who has hired and recruited social media interns and community managers, having an impressive and professional online presence is very important. I’m not keen to hire you if I can’t even find you online.

2. Offer to manage accounts for a small business or student org.

This is actually how I started getting experience in social media. Find a family member or friend who has a small business, and volunteer to manage their social media presence. Don’t expect to be paid, just do your best to practice developing a strategy, maintaining their accounts, and measuring results. If you can’t find an opportunity, try to create one. Get involved with a student organization on campus, or perhaps an office on campus, that is struggling with their social media, and offer your help. Once you do this, make sure to showcase your experience on LinkedIn and get a recommendation from whoever you worked with.

3. Look for a social media internship.

With social media becoming more and more influential in the business world, thousands of companies are jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak, and seeking help with their social media. Larger companies are most often already in the game, and looking for seasoned social media professionals, but small businesses just need some help. Although many of these smaller internships are unpaid, there are many where you can work remotely, and require minimal hours per week. Look for one of these and apply! Here are some resources to look for internships:

4. Take advantage of unique opportunities.

HootCampusBesides a traditional internship, there are other unique opportunities that are popping up all over the web. One such opportunity is the HootSuite Campus Ambassador program. Once accepted in this program, you assume a role on your campus in which you help promote the many uses and functions of HootSuite and social media. Not only do you gain invaluable experience, but you also get to add a well-known and reputable company to your network and resume. Read more about my involvement with this program here: A Hoot-Tastic Opportunity.

5. Follow SocialMediaForStudents.com.

Ok, so this might seem like an obvious plug, but I’ve worked hard to include many helpful resources, tips, and interviews on this site to help students of social media learn how to develop their knowledge and skills. For example, make sure you check out the Social Media Marketing 101 page for ideas on how to navigate all of the information about social media, as well as the Important Links page for blogs and sites to follow. To make sure you stay on track, subscribe to SMFS by email through the field in the sidebar!

Do you have questions? Other tips to share? Please add them in the comments!

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Yes, You Need a LinkedIn Account!

LinkedInWith so many social networks to traverse today, why is it important for college students to be on yet another site? There are many benefits to being active on LinkedIn, but the most basic reason – to get a job and move out of your parent’s house! You do want to move out of your parent’s house, right?

Ok, let’s get started then.

Just as with the other social channels you have subscribed to, you will be required to fill out your personal profile. However, on this network, you want to be as honest, thorough and as complete as possible. Give as much information about your education, work experience, certifications, awards, etc. as you can muster up. A recently updated resume can be of great assistance during this process.

Here is a good resource to get started on LinkedIn: Tips to Help You Maximize Your Professional Profile

Speaking of an updated resume, you have one, right? Good, because you’ll want to upload that into LinkedIn for companies searching for prospective interns and employees. This will also be very helpful while you apply for all those job openings you discover!

Now that you have your profile and resume completed, it’s time to connect with the many professionals you already know. There are a couple of methods to go about finding these people. The easiest way is to allow LinkedIn to search your email contacts. Another way is to search for specific people manually. This may be necessary if you do not have everyone’s email stored in your contacts. You may also use a combination of both methods to connect with professionals presently in your life.

Student You may be asking yourself, “Where can I find professionals to connect with when I haven’t emerged into the workforce yet?” Don’t worry, here are few ideas to begin your search:

  • Classmates
  • Parents of your friends
  • Friends of your parents (that you also know)
  • Coaches, past and present
  • Teachers and Professors
  • Supervisors from Non-Profits where you have volunteered
  • Members of organizations in which you are involved, i.e. Churches, clubs, etc.
  • Past employers from high school jobs, summer jobs or part-time college positions

Now that you’ve started to build your network, you’re probably wondering, “What benefits does LinkedIn have to offer me?”

Here’s a list of some ways college students can use LinkedIn to market themselves for internships, employment, partnerships or lead opportunities:

  • Follow companies that you are interested in to keep up-to-date with the latest news, and more importantly – position openings
  • Follow specific leaders in your industry to listen and learn from them
  • Be found by companies searching for people with your education, experience and knowledge
  • If you plan on becoming an entrepreneur, LinkedIn is in a very valuable lead generation tool
  • Get referrals from connections you have worked with or volunteered with
  • Post updates to your page of interesting articles, presentations, infographics, etc. to be seen by your network daily
  • Comment on others’ posts to create conversations
  • Join industry related groups to stay informed on the latest trends
  • If you write a blog, include a link to it in your profile to showcase your knowledge
  • Continue to grow your professional network with the world outside of your present circles – you never know what the future holds for you!

These are just a few good reasons why college students should join LinkedIn sooner rather than later. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for using LinkedIn, please add them by commenting below.

Therese MatthysTherese Matthys  @ThereseMatthys

Therese has more than 10 years of experience in marketing. She co-founded two non-profit organizations, implementing many diverse marketing approaches. She is also a HootSuite Certified Professional providing social media marketing strategies and coaching for businesses and individuals to navigate through this digital world we are living in.

Atlas Sliced

Atlas Sliced Interview: Sharing Social Media Tips with the World

Last week I had the honor of being featured in Slice #61 on Atlas Sliced, the web’s only travel show that offers advice for those looking to work and live abroad. In the interview, Alexa Hart, founder of Atlas Sliced, asks me questions about why social media is important, as well as how it can help you in your career, and even help you go abroad. Watch the full episode below to get some tips on using social media to promote yourself positively and professionally.

EPISODE SLICE #61: Using Your Travels & Social Media to Create a Positive Online Persona


A big shout-out and thank you to Alexa for having me on the show! Be sure to check out Atlas Sliced on Facebook & Twitter.

DOs and DON’Ts for Representing Yourself Online

DOs&DONTsA couple years ago I wrote a post about Facebook etiquette, and how you should polish your online persona just as much as you do your resume. Today, I’d like to elaborate a bit on the DOs and DON’Ts for ANY social media channel you might use to make up your online persona. Before we dive into it though, I’d like to reiterate why it is so important in the first place.

First, people (and employers!) WILL look for you online. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Now, ask yourself, what will they find? Will they be impressed or put off? Second, even before having an online presence that represents you positively, it’s important to have a presence in the first place. I recommend that everyone have an online presence to showcase your knowledge and skills, but if you are in marketing or business, you MUST have an online presence. Think about it, if you’re applying for a position that includes social media or online marketing and you don’t even have a Twitter account, do you think they’ll hire you? Probably not.

So, now that we’re clear that you should have an online persona, and that it’s important that it is positive, let’s look at some DOs and DON’Ts for today’s top channels:

Facebook

Facebook DODON’T share information or post pictures that would make someone’s nose wrinkle. For example, posting a picture of you drinking a beer when you were 18, writing a status about the color of your latest (fill in the blank), or ranting and raging about your ex is just NOT appropriate. Seriously, use your judgement! Oh, and talking about how much time you have left before you serve your jail time is also not appealing.

DO use Facebook to share what you’re interested in and connect with family and friends. We are all human, and we like to socialize, hence the immense popularity of Facebook. Feel free to post a picture of you eating dinner with your family or share an article about something you like. Just be you – a positive and happy you.

Twitter

DON’T use profanity or be a spammer. People also don’t really want to know that you failed your chemistry exam or how bloated you feel. Tweets were not designed for the world to hear about your ailments or how much you hate this or that. And, like I said, don’t be a spammer – don’t assume the default Twitter egg is a perfectly good profile picture, or that tweeting mystery links to strangers is okay.

DO share your knowledge and post interesting articles. Start conversations with like-minded professionals. RT a valuable infographic or blog post (make sure you read it first!). Twitter can be a powerful networking tool and a good way to help you share information related to your expertise.

Twitter DOLinkedIn

DON’T leave your profile outdated. If you’re profile still says you’re working at the cafe you waited tables at in high school, you definitely need to make some revisions. You also shouldn’t have a profile picture of you in your swimsuit. LinkedIn is a professional network!

DO showcase your work and take advantage of LinkedIn features. LinkedIn is your online resume – make sure to tell people what you do or did in a particular position, and try to get recommendations for them too. Add pictures, videos, or slideshares that relate to your experience (this is one of LinkedIn’s new and awesome features). Visuals can compliment your experience in many ways.

LinkedIn DO

In the end, it comes down to presenting yourself in a way that you wouldn’t want to hide from anyone, whether it be your grandmother or a potential employer. Present yourself and communicate in a way that you would face-to-face, and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.

Do you have more DOs and DON’Ts to add? Post them in the comments!