4 Social Media Tips for College Students

Since formal social media training isn't included in many majors, here is some advice on how to best leverage these powerful tools

By Greg Scott Neuman
Posted 2012

Social Media Training
Social Media Training

If you’re in college, chances are you’re steeped in social media. That’s not only true for young people who were raised with Facebook and Twitter; even older, nontraditional students are finding social media tools quite valuable. But what is the best way to use them, especially where the post-graduation job search is concerned?

Here are four social media tips that can help you in college and beyond:

1. Clean up your profile. With everything that has been said about not posting incriminating statements and photos to social media sites, you’d think this problem would be almost nonexistent by now. But every year, people lose opportunities for employment, promotions, business partnerships, college admissions, financial assistance and more because of something they uploaded to the Internet.

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Make no mistake – employers, admissions officers and other people who are considering investing in you will examine your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other profiles. Social media is no longer “just for your friends”. If you maintain an online identity that can be accessed – and they are usually a whole lot more accessible than people believe they are – then interested parties will be taking a look.

Simply put, post no photos or information that makes you look disrespectful, irresponsible or unethical. If you already have such material on any of your profiles, remove it immediately. And that’s not limited to things that actually fall into those categories; it also includes things that appear to fall into those categories. It doesn’t matter if you’re not really breaking the law in that old spring break photo. If it looks like you are, it can cost you all sorts of opportunities.

2. Network with your peers. The best thing about social media is that it allows you to communicate with many different people in many different places, and to do so largely at your convenience. So make an effort to friend, follow or otherwise connect with those who have similar interests and goals. This not only means students who share your major, but also (when possible) your professors, mentors, guest lecturers and professionals already working in your field.

Once you have connected with these individuals, take the time to interact with them. “Networking” involves more than having someone on your friends list. Talk to them, share articles and videos of mutual interest, ask them questions, and answer any they pose to you. Down the road, you may well find that the relationship you’ve built provides you both with insights and resources that would be impossible otherwise.

3. Keep learning. In addition to connecting with friends, coworkers and other contacts, make sure you follow or subscribe to influential professionals and organizations related to your career. This is a great way to keep your eye on the latest developments and know what the top people in your field are talking about.

These types of connections are likely to be one-way, at least at first. Prominent industry leaders, world-renowned personalities and major media outlets are unlikely to follow you on Twitter or subscribe to your Facebook posts. But don’t let that stop you. You’ll learn a lot just by watching what they say and do, and one day your dedication, hard work and comprehensive knowledge may bring you to the attention of your profession’s most influential players.

4. Promote yourself – within reason. It’s okay to show off a little; you want people to know you’re good at what you do. The best way to do this is to competently and civilly discuss subjects of interest in your field. This may include writing a blog, linking articles and commenting on what others in your industry have to say. It is also acceptable to let people know when you reach a new milestone, such as earning a new credential or getting a promotion.

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On the other hand, no one likes (or links) a braggart. Constant self-promotion is a good way to find yourself ostracized from your profession’s social media community. Having a high opinion of yourself is not the same thing as having a good reputation; the former costs you nothing but has no value, while the latter takes years of hard work to cultivate but can ultimately be worth far more than you invested.

Promoting yourself is a good thing, just do so in a modest and honest way.

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