My journey with social media platforms is one I have struggled for weeks to put down on paper. Since deciding to write a piece on social media use, I have interviewed colleagues, peers and friends on their take on social media platforms. I have received various views, some quite different from my perceived value of this changemaker. One of the outcomes of the interview for me is clarity regarding why I am writing this particular piece. However, today I am sharing how I have used these platforms as positive tools contrary to all that backlash and negative sentiments out there. I have highlighted four ways they have served me personally:
1. Recruitment: helped me get a job!
The LinkedIn platform has become a recruitment tool for me in the past. I would go on LinkedIn to check candidates’ profiles before I interview them or generally look up people’s work experience in the industry or sector before meetings. In the past, I have been approached by headhunters on the platform and have even recommended candidates for them to reach out on LinkedIn. Last year, I was pleasantly surprised when I was also headhunted on the platform and got to work with my dream organization.
The value of LinkedIn for me is the fact that it helps our traditional static Curriculum Vitae. With LinkedIn, one can show career progression in a more innovative and creative way using content. Also recruiters get to see a candidate’s personality, evolution, attitudes and skills. For users that create content and engage on LinkedIn, it not only gives them visibility but allows them show thought leadership in those topics or areas they are skilled or talented in.
2. Networking with LinkedIn to feature on podcasts!
For me, social media platforms have become a tool for networking, especially LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. In 2020, because of the pandemic and subsequent work-from-home for most professionals, most of my networking was done on social media. I would reach out to people on LinkedIn and we would follow that up with a video call on Zoom, Microsoft teams, WhatsApp etc. I was able to expand my professional network and connect with clients using this. It was a bit odd initially having virtual coffees as a means of connecting, but with the convenience that comes with having this from the comfort of your home – no travel required, I was able to engage with various people around the globe. This was instrumental in pushing my book which was published last year on various podcasts globally. I met most of these podcasters on LinkedIn or Podcast sites.
3. E-Commerce: helped me remodel my home.
I had neglected the enormous value I got from shopping on social media platforms until I realized that eighty percent of the vendors I engaged for renovating my home in 2018 were all sourced from instagram. Some of them were small enterprises with no website, just social media presence. One positive attribute of Instagram is that it is very visual, allowing me to review their past work; looking beyond well-edited pictures to raw-cut videos that showed the making of the products, to online customer reviews and complaints. This is a valuable tool for small enterprises who are not skilled at managing websites but are able to operate a smart phone to post pictures of their products.This can be a good way to support your local businesses.
4. Personal branding: visibility at no cost.
I am from a generation where some of my peers find social media distracting or obnoxious. Some find the inability to control their data unacceptable, while others find it unhealthy or self-aggrandizing to share aspects of their life before the public.
While I understand this school of thought, I recognize the power of these platforms as a means of bringing visibility to impactful work and position one’s self intentionally, especially for women in the workplace who shy away from sharing their successes or lack the visibility to drive their careers in the right direction. This can be another way to ensure your brand speaks for itself.
Quoting Gary Vaynerchuk of Vaynermedia, “Social media is the evolution of the internet; a version of the internet in the form we have it today. Just like Radio was to Television, Social media is to traditional media and the internet; the future, a progression of some sort.”
I believe social media is a tool, just like a knife in your kitchen. Depending on the intentions (or the hands the tool finds itself in), it can be a tool for good or a destructive instrument. In the hands of a thief that breaks into my kitchen, that knife becomes a deadly weapon. But in my hands, the knife is an effective tool for making a great family meal because I will be using it to chop onions and other vegetables.
So, my great advice is to define your intentions for these platforms. What do you want to achieve with these platforms? Visibility, entertainment, networking? That will probably also guide the amount of valuable time you spend on them. Decide on your strategy for the platform so you can drive and manage your time on them. Decide if you want to be a generator of content or a consumer or both. You need to be clear about what kind of content you will stand for or consume. I let my values drive me when it comes to content generation or consumption. At the end of the day the algorithms are mostly studying your footprint online to decide what you get to see more often.
I am not oblivious to the negative sentiments out there about social media. Just this month, one of the big topics has been the power of the tech giants when it comes to freedom of speech and censorship. We all witnessed in awe as some of the social media organizations kicked off the United States president from their platforms because of hate speech or incitement of violence. In various quarters, some have postulated that the big tech companies like the social media platforms are all about “Surveillance Capitalism.” In many ways the ability of big tech companies to control people’s data and use their collected data for profit cannot be denied. In most of these arguments, I find some truth of a much bigger global issue amplified by the evolution and prominence of big tech companies or social media platforms. For some time now, the challenge has been how best to regulate social media platforms, what content can be shared, by whom, and when to be responsible for misuse of data on these platforms. However we have agency and with time all stakeholders will hopefully address these concerns.
This month I will be sharing the next phase of my career. One key message is that I got that job on LinkedIn. In September 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, I was contacted by a headhunter on LinkedIn after apparently checking my LinkedIn profile. After a couple of phone calls with him where he explained to me about the job opening and the role, he caught my attention. I sent through my CV and we started the recruitment process. I did all the required interviews via video calls and finally landed a new job in an industry I always aspired to work for. This job would also be a huge transition for me as I would be relocating to a new continent; from Lagos, Nigeria to Dublin, Ireland in Europe. All of this happened because of social media and the internet. This all happened without meeting anyone physically. This is the power of social media and the internet. This is the future. Now you are done reading this, take action. So, I ask you now: what is your social media strategy?