FAQ: I’m not a blogger, how can I showcase my experience online?

Students often ask me how they can showcase themselves or their experience online without blogging. This is a great question, especially for those who aren’t writers, or perhaps don’t have the time and resources to sustain a blog. There are several great online tools out there that can help you represent yourself online without blogging, or even as a compliment to your blog if you have one. Here are a few of the more creative and unique ways to represent yourself outside of your traditional social media channels:


I stumbled across this awesome site after conversing with @adelynlee on Twitter. She has a great profile set up to compliment her online presence.



This free and easy to use site allows you to create a short summary of yourself and provide links to your other social media profiles.



Similar to the above site, Zerply creates a page that features information about you. “Zerply is a simple professional network focusing on your experience and talent while presenting you in the best possible way.”



“We create stunning video introductions and profiles for motivated job seekers looking to standout in today’s crowded job market.” If you’re looking for a truly untapped and unique way to profile yourself, ViewYou is it!



Pathbrite is a brilliant site that creates an online and visual portfolio of whatever content you choose to include.


Whether you use one of the above or one of the many other platforms created to help you showcase yourself online, you’re sure to make an impression, even if you don’t have a blog.

Do you use another platform to showcase yourself? Tell me about it in the comments!

Have Your Cake & Eat it Too: A Career in Social Media

A big part of learning is looking to others as an example. Today I have a post from Tiffany Harrison, the Outreach Manager at GoAbroad.com, to comment on the importance of social media, and what its like to work in social media:

As a student these days, understanding social media is essential. To say that it’s not is like saying a passport is just a suggestion for international travel. A bit of an understatement, right? Whether you use social media strictly for personal use or are hoping to make it a part of your career, how you brand yourself online will make all the difference in your endeavors.

Tiffany at NAFSAI understand how it feels to navigate the waters of an online presence: how much should you put out there, how much is TOO much, and what is going to set you apart from the crowd? By offering some insight into my own experiences with social media, it’s my hope that you’ll be able to gain some perspective.

I don’t claim to know everything; to say that is to ignore the fact that social media is an evolving technology. Rather, I understand what it takes to stand out on social media while being true to who you are, and cognizant of how the technology changes. After all, it’s what led me to my current role with GoAbroad.com. Instead of referring to the following advice as “best practices,” I think a better phrase is “model practices.” This should help you to keep in mind that every person’s journey is different from the next, and your own technique will adapt and change with your pursuits. Let’s dig in, shall we?

How Did You Get a Job in Social Media?

I came to my position as Outreach Manager for GoAbroad.com after meeting and getting to know my future supervisor via Twitter. At that point in time, I was trying to break into the international education industry – which can be extremely competitive, particularly if you’re like me and don’t have a Master’s Degree or five plus years of experience.

That’s where getting creative with how to stand out took hold: I started a blog that encompassed the things I was most passionate about, joined Twitter, and began getting to know new people. A word to the wise: if you aren’t already on Twitter, I highly recommend it. It’s a great place to meet people (possibly future employers!), as well as get your voice heard on a platform where you’re liable to connect with anyone.

Initially, I wasn’t even considering how it might become my next job when I met my supervisor. I’d found her because I enjoyed reading her blog and wanted to express my appreciation of it. Before I knew it, we were tweeting back and forth, she interviewed me for her blog, and a few months down the road I was being offered the job of a lifetime. Stranger things have happened, right?

The important thing to take away from this, is that YES, being yourself in an online forum can be extremely rewarding. Whether it leads to a job, a writing opportunity, or even a new friendship, maintaining transparency in how you present yourself can take you far. Added to that, getting creative with your use of social media will also open new doors. Examine how people are already doing things, and find a new angle. What speaks to you, and how can you add your voice to the conversation? Speak up and I assure you that people will start to listen.

What Do You Do Everyday?

As the Outreach Manager for GoAbroad.com, one of my major responsibilities is managing our online communities of over 50,000 world travelers. I also oversee the GoAbroad Blog, managing all of the content that we write and share. When I’m not scheduling Facebook posts or responding to Tweets, I’m sending out press releases, working with GoAbroad partners, or prepping for an upcoming university visit. It’s definitely a job that keeps me on my toes!

Tiffany HarrisonThe wide-reaching scope of GoAbroad’s communities used to scare me when I first started with social media brand management. The learning curve was steep, the digital landscape was (and is) apt to change at the drop of a hat, and I was anxious about saying or doing the wrong thing for our audience.

I still have these moments on occasion, but you learn as you go. It also helps to have supportive colleagues who act like guiding lights throughout the learning process. If you’re eager to work in social media management, you have to be ready to take risks. Not every campaign will be successful, and you’ll have audience members who don’t always agree with you. It can be unnerving, but it’s also what makes working with social media so dynamic.

How Important is Maintaining an Online Persona?

It’s essential. And not just “I have a Facebook account, so I understand social media” kind of essential. It takes more energy and work than that. The way that I see it is if you want someone to find you (employers, college recruiters, fellow bloggers, etc.) give them something to find in the first place.

One of my first journalism teachers in college once told me it’s better to have some kind of “digital footprint,” as opposed to none at all. As I’ve grown and delved more into social media, I continue to adhere to this. People are going to search for you online either way. Better to give them something worthwhile to find, and you’ll already be one step ahead of the competition.

It doesn’t have to be complicated either: Find time to update your LinkedIn profile, use a tool like HootSuite to manage your tweets, start your own blog, or guest author for sites you already enjoy reading. The opportunities are endless.

What Advice Do You Have for Others That Want to Work in Social Media?

Read and keep reading. As I mentioned earlier, social media is constantly evolving and it’s important to stay up to date with trends. It’s the only way you’re going to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening and what opportunities are upcoming.

Combined with this, I suggest taking advantage of internships that allow you to get firsthand experience with social media. One of my internships out of college had me collecting press clips, building editorial lists, and mining for online content that would suit our clients. Sure, it wasn’t my dream job but it taught me how to get creative with my approach to writing for an online audience and understanding what resonates. I also got to work with people who had a broad knowledge base, making for a great learning experience. From there, you can only keep growing.

It’s safe to say that social media isn’t going anywhere, and nor should it! There are more and more opportunities to get involved with it on a professional level and you owe it to yourself to grab hold of them with both hands. You just might surprise yourself at how good it tastes to have your cake and eat it too.

Tiffany HarrisonTiffany Harrison @ttmharrison

Hailing from the Northern California Foothills, Tiffany Harrison holds a BA in Journalism Public Relations from California State University Chico. She first ignited her passion for meaningful travel by living abroad in Scotland, before then working in public relations in San Francisco. Tiffany now cultivates her skills with GoAbroad.com as the Outreach Manager. She is an avid tea-drinker who lives by the words of Jane Austen and considers her passport a map to discovering the world. Connect with Tiffany on her blog, What Would Jane Do?

FAQ: Should I let employers see my social media channels?

This week’s FAQ seems an appropriate follow up question to my earlier post about what you should and shouldn’t do while representing yourself online. Should you let employers see your social media channels? You might think it’s none of their business, that you’ll share some but not others, or just don’t know. Here are some things to consider in order to help you answer the question:

Social media is a good way to showcase yourself.

Using your social media channels to create an online persona that potential and current employers can interact with is important in this day and age. As I’ve mentioned before, if you’re looking to work anywhere near social media or online marketing, you BETTER have an online presence that displays your experience in a positive way!

Social Media Love

If you have nothing to hide, why not?

There is a lot of controversy out there about whether or not your potential employer should have the “right” to see your social media profiles in, before, or after an interview. However, as I read the stories I can’t help but wonder, if you have nothing to hide, why wouldn’t you let an employer see you on social media? Now, I do know that there are exceptions to the rule, but really, I WANT my boss to see that I’m rocking it on Twitter, or that my Pinterest account is driving traffic to my blog. Facebook is admittedly a little trickier; however, think about this: do you want to work for an employer that would judge you for having a great time at dinner with your friends Friday night?

Not doing so could cost you the job.

Again, I realize that this may not hold true for every field out there, but in general, if you keep all your social media channels private you might not get the job. Think about it…if the other candidates are tweeting about information related to the industry, have an awesome Pathbrite portfolio, or even public Facebook posts sharing articles that would interest a recruiter/employer, and you don’t, do you think you’ll get the job?

I’ll let you be the judge. Ultimately, it is your decision whether to share or not, but hopefully this gets you thinking about why it’s probably a really good idea.

What’s your opinion? Tell me in the comments!

How to Set Up Social Media Icons on WordPress.com

Free Social Media IconsYou know how I’m always saying we all, regardless of our experience, have something to learn…well, I’m serious. This post is exhibit A. When I first re-launched SMFS, I knew I wanted to have social media icons that linked to the respective networks I have set up. I was shocked when the widgets menu didn’t have one, and was frustrated that I might not be able to have icons at the top of my site – something that I am always strongly recommending for clients. Thankfully, I figured out how to set it up using the “Text” widget. Here’s how to set up social media icons on WordPress.com:

Step 1: Find the social media icons you want to use.

Do a Google search for “free social media icons” and browse different icon images. Once you find some that you like, download the image files and save them to your computer.

Step 2: Upload the icon images to a post draft on your blog.

I found it easier to upload each icon individually, in the order that I want them to appear, and selecting “None” for alignment. In this stage you can also assign each image a unique URL, i.e. for the Facebook icon, set it to link to your Facebook profile or page.

Upload to Post Draft

Step 3: Switch to text view in your post draft and copy the code.

Literally just select all and copy the code. You could also make sure to save your draft at this point.

Copy Code

Step 4: Go to widgets menu and insert a “text” widget into your sidebar.

Once you add the text widget to your sidebar, paste the code you copied into the text field of the widget. Click “save.”

Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 1.34.04 PM

Step 5: Go to your homepage and refresh.

Voila! You now have social media icons that link to your channels on your WordPress.com site.

Social Media Icons

Did you get lost along the way? Are you unsure of how to complete one of these steps? Ask me in the comments!

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 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.


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!

FAQ: How can someone work in social media?

Working on social media

Me, working on social media!

Periodically, I will select a frequently asked question (FAQ) about social media or online marketing, and make my very best attempt at providing a thoughtful and helpful answer. Make sure to share your FAQs with me via the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter (use hashtag #SM4students).

This FAQ came from my mom (shameless shoutout!). She explained that when she tries to tell her friends and colleagues what I do, she often gets blank stares or confused expressions, or perhaps a, “What? How do you work in social media!?” I realized that I too often have to explain myself when people realize that I get paid to tweet. While the perception might be that I am getting paid to click “Post” on Facebook, the reality is that there is much more to it. So, I’ll try to explain the answer to the question, “How can someone work in social media?” by describing some of the most common social media job descriptions.

Common Types of Social Media Jobs

1. Online Community (or Marketing) Manager – Community managers are most often responsible for monitoring social media networks on behalf of a business or brand. They listen to the community or audience and help translate engagement, questions, comments, etc. into ideas for future strategies, campaigns, and content. It is important for community managers to be able to represent the business in a positive light, as well as proactively respond to negative comments or responses. This requires an intelligent understanding of the brand’s voice, how the business traditionally interacts with customers, and who the target market or markets include, not to mention an intimate working knowledge of all the top social media networks.

2. Social Media Strategist – A person in this role is responsible for working with the marketing team to think up unique and creative campaigns to unleash online. They will also look at which social media channels are most appropriate for the business to have a presence, and which are likely to yield the best benefits. A social media strategist might also be the person responsible for analyzing the results of any social media campaigns through growth metrics, website traffic, or lead conversions.

3. Content Creator or Copywriter – As they say, “Content is King,” and a social media copywriter is responsible for making sure that a business’ content is fresh, creative, appropriate, and written/built to engage their social media community. Honestly, this can be a full time job depending on the size and scope of the organization.

4. Multi-tasking Social Media GeniusOkay, so I made up this job title, but I thought it worth mentioning since it’s pretty much what I do. Since the social media industry is still in its infancy, many social media jobs have different responsibilities attached than what I’ve mentioned and/or there is one to two people that do all of the above as one role. For example, my job includes posting, monitoring, responding, scheduling, listening, strategy and campaign development, content gathering and creation, analysis and reporting, consulting, training…and the list could go on!

Beyond these common positions, there are also many opportunities for Social Media Directors, Coordinators, Managers, etc. – all of which vary in responsibility. And on top of all that, almost every marketing position, and definitely every online marketing position requires knowledge of how to use social media to market a brand (not just how to use your personal Facebook profile to see what your friends are doing Friday night!).

Where are the social media jobs? How much do they pay? Check out this great infographic from Onward Search for some insight:

Social Media Jobs and Salaries Guide
© 2012 Onward Search

Did I answer the question or am I missing something? Let me know in the comments!

What is your definition of social media?

Social Media cloudAs I continue to write “lessons” about social media, I am more and more interested in what students actually want to know about social media.  While continuing to work on my thesis, I have conducted some in-depth interviews to try to answer the question, “What do you want to learn about social media?”

I have learned that many students are unclear about what social media means to them, therefore what they want to learn about it is a bit cloudy.  So, the question became “What is your definition of social media?”

The answers varied, and I realized that perhaps I should attempt to define social media.  First, here are some common definitions I’ve found on the web:

The term Social Media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue (Wikipedia).

Merriam-Webster defines Social Media as forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).

Although I easily found these definitions with a Google search, it is clear that the definition of social media is still evolving.  However, I made the mistake of assuming that everyone was at least familiar with some form of the above definitions.  In actuality, many students think of social media as much more than what might otherwise be referred to as “social networks,” such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

When I hear the term social media, I immediately think of social networks.  Do I have tunnel vision?  Is social media more than social networks and how we use them?  Over the last couple of weeks I have had to second-guess my definition.  Does social media have to be technology based?

Perhaps a more broad definition could be: “Social Media is media, electronically based or otherwise, that enables users to communicate in an interactive and highly social capacity.”

What do you think?  What is your definition of social media?

Lesson 3: Social Media is Always Evolving

subcribe feature on FacebookWhether we like it or not, social media is constantly evolving.  Although there are small changes happening on many social media platforms, the platform that is currently consuming headlines is Facebook.  As I am sure many of you have already noticed, Facebook has recently made some major changes in the way it’s social network functions.

Arguably the most influential change is the ability to “subscribe” to Facebook Users’ updates.  Not only can you now subscribe to people who you aren’t friends with, you can also choose what updates you are subscribed to from your friends.  In addition, there are more options concerning what you see in your news feed – you have the option to hide stories, change your subscription, or unsubscribe altogether.  You can read more about this feature here: Introducing the Subscribe Button.

What is more important about these changes is the implications it has on social media marketing.  Now users can still like your page, but choose not to see any of your updates in their news feed.  What does this mean?  You have to be even more diligent about what you’re posting, when you’re posting, and how often you are posting.  Here are some resources for learning how to go about posting to Facebook:

Moral of the story?  Make sure you stay up-to-date on the evolution of social media – and be aware of how it affects your social media marketing strategy.

Anything you’d like to add?  Share it in the comments!

Lesson 2: Facebook Etiquette

As my senior year begins at Colorado State University, it is more evident than ever that everyone is gearing up for the all-important, yet alarmingly nerve-racking, job search. The next few months are filled with resume workshops, mock interviews, and networking events – but nobody is paying any attention to their online persona.

It should be stressed – your online persona a.k.a. social media must be polished just as much when embarking on a job search! Companies are no longer oblivious to the amount of information they can find out about a person on Facebook – and they know just about every college student has a Facebook page. What does this mean? Your future employer is checking you out online – looking at your pictures, reading comments, etc. – and if you have a whole album of your drinking photos or are chatting it up on your wall about how you played hooky last Friday, you better bet you won’t get that callback!

Wondering what to do now? Check out this great article, “Essential Social Media Etiquette for College Students: Six Tips.” This should get you started on revamping your Facebook page into something that represents you positively and professionally.

Do you have any more great Facebook tips you’d like to share?

Becoming a Certified HootSuite Professional

Certified HootSuite ProfessionalIf you haven’t heard of HootSuite, it is a brilliant social media dashboard that makes managing social media accounts a breeze.   As a HootSuite Pro account holder, I am able to add unlimited social media accounts and streams to one dashboard for easy and controlled management. For Community Management, HootSuite is a life saver.

Having used HootSuite for quite some time now I decided it would only be fitting to become a Certified HootSuite Professional.  In order to do so, one must enroll themselves in HootSuite University – a series of online tutorials and webinars that walk you through the many uses of the HootSuite Dashboard.  After completing the required courses for certification, you are awarded a certification and badge.

I am proud to have completed my certification today – so of course I am showing off my new badge!