It’s easy to assume college students have social media all figured out. Experience shows, though, that while many are savvy about Facebook, they may not realize they need to build a social media presence in other avenues before graduation rather than after. Sue Murphy notes in her article Social Media Success Tips for Students two particular areas that seriously need attention while a student is still in school but looking to the outside world.
Many students believe they don’t need to worry about getting their profiles up on LinkedIN until after they graduate. But nothing could be further from the truth. You need to get on there. Now. LinkedIN is one of the best places to connect with the kind of companies and people you want to eventually end up working for. And the only way you’ll be able to find and connect with them is to start building your profile there.
She also builds a case for starting a blog–and she’s not talking about a chatty personal journal you share with the world.
The only thing I wish she had commented on that she didn’t: Twitter. Though Twitter gets a lot of media attention, it still lags in number of users (38.44 million unique visitors in November, vs. 162.85 million for Facebook according to Compete.com), and of course it is used quite differently. Nevertheless, its public nature (Twitter users can set their streams so that only followers can see it, but that’s very much the exception; otherwise, streams are completely public) and the difficulty of purging posts means that students should consider establishing an identity for the long-term in Twitter as well.
At least one former student has done a good job of doing so, and I think it likely contributed to his snagging a job he really likes. (Although Twitter streams are public, I’m not going to mention his unless he tells me it’s OK to do so. Maybe this post will get updated with his Twitter name later.)
EDIT: Got permission! Will Webb was in my public speaking class a couple of years ago, and even at that time was building a business. He has since moved onto the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is now doing an internship in Delaware that really excites him. His Twitter stream isn’t just business–you get a sense of his personality too, which is good. But I’ve been following Will for some time now, back before he graduated, and I can attest that he didn’t post things he needed to find later and delete. (Some other former students are really going to have to do a lot of that unless they go to work in product testing for Jack Daniels.) It wasn’t the major thing that helped him get the internship or promote his business, but it certainly fit those efforts.
In any case, check out the advice from Suze. Are you a student? What are you doing with social media? Use the comments to, well, comment.
[Note: cross-posted at my academic blog.]