Navigating Social Media

For those who need a brief refresher on social media (or an introduction), here is a succinct guide to the various platforms:

A photo posted by Doug Ray (@douglaswray) on

(I would spell that ‘doughnut’, though – and ‘donut eating’ should be hyphenated.)

In terms of how to post information, you might bear the following points in mind.

Choose your distribution channel appropriately
The best social media for business and professional purposes are LinkedIn and Twitter.

Use Instagram and Facebook for pics of vacations, amazing restaurant meals, your kids, the dog.

Manage your presence
If you have a social media presence that is purely personal (vacations, amazing restaurant meals etc.), that doesn’t mean it can be un-professional.

Don’t post things via a non-work account that you wouldn’t want your employer or your clients to see. Everybody has Google, and someone is bound to find those pics of you at the kegger with your pants down.

Don’t reveal confidential client information or say negative things about a client (or your employer). You should also exercise caution in speaking out on public issues that a client may have an interest in – even if this does have the effect of clipping the wings of your commentary. An ‘all views my own’ disclaimer may not be sufficient when someone is upset.

Join appropriate groups on LinkedIn.

Don’t feel you have to accept every LinkedIn connection request. There are a lot of spammers and other opportunists out there. And think about the people you do connect with: it was a bit off-putting when a professional contact of mine connected on LinkedIn (and perhaps elsewhere) with an adult film star. Similarly, adding every legal recruiter in town to your LinkedIn contacts will send a signal.

Keep it short
Twitter famously limits tweeted messages to 140 characters, although there have been rumours that this may be eased. That would be a shame: the beauty of a tweet is its very pithiness, and a word-limit imposes a healthy discipline.

Keep your posts on other platforms on the short side, too. No one is on social media to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and most will be looking at your update on a mobile device with a small screen.

Don’t overdo it
Regularly posting updates is an effective way to remind your friends, colleagues and clients that you haven’t fallen off the face of the earth – but no one needs minute-by-minute live-tweeting of you doing document review.

And don’t post for the sake of posting: have something meaningful to say.

Use existing content
Retweet items from trusted sources to your legion of followers. Like or repost updates on LinkedIn.

The only way to build a true personal brand, however, is to post original (and, ideally, thoughtful) content of your own.

Link appropriately
If you are saying nice things about someone, include a link to that person’s LinkedIn profile. Include that person’s Twitter handle or a hashtag with a company name or keyword.

Next time: –ee, –or

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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