It is always a bit disconcerting when someone tells you they are not on Facebook. What are they hiding? And why do they not want to see my latest holiday snaps from Greece?
Many of these people do not have any social media accounts – not even a rogue Hi5 (remember that, anyone?). It is not that they have not been enlightened to the joys of a detailed Facebook stalk – more often they do not want their private lives paraded around in front of a load of people who they can only vaguely remember from school.
Admittedly, there is a lot of logic in that. But when everyone else is engaging on a platform that allows them to organise events, share photos, and stand on a virtual soapbox daily, a social media profile really does mean a lot more than being sociable.
Depending on which industry you are working in, if everyone else in your company is busy poking, liking, sharing, and using emojis, it can often feel like the online equivalent of your work nemesis playing golf with your boss while you are organising the stationary cupboard.
Of course, mixing business with pleasure is not for everyone; many people like to keep a clear delineation between work and personal networking. Which is where LinkedIn comes in. It is the place to be if you are looking for a job, or looking for someone to do a job. As a business platform, it does a very good job at being just that. But it is no place to express anything particularly controversial or creative. Informal content on LinkedIn is very often met with: ‘Why are you posting this here?’.
Of course, it is an incredibly useful platform, but ultimately, in its current form, LinkedIn is a case of professional housekeeping, rather than something that adds credibility to your profile, or amplifies your opinions. In order to do that you need to look at the full spectrum of what is available to you – from Snapchat to Periscope and everything in between – and decide what is the right way to tell your story and engage with the people you want to meet.
Professionally, you are (hopefully) involved in projects that you are incredibly proud of. And (usually), when you have created something successful, it is right that you are a source of inspiration for others looking to achieve something similar. In other words, people want to hear what you say, not just see what you make. Having a social feed is a creative way to share hard work – by telling your most engaged audience (who care what you are doing) what you did, and how you did it.
“Think about what you want to get out of your social feeds and apply your time to the things that are most relevant”
At FinchFactor, we work with many high profile business leaders within the creative industry, from chief commercial officers and executive creative directors to managing directors and chief executive officers.
These are all people who have a compelling take on the world that others are curious to hear more about. However, more often than not, we hear that these very same people either do not have time to engage in ‘prosocial’ (a made up word for professional social media engagement) or they have taken the decision to prioritise the voice of the business over their personal one as an ambassador. Valid arguments.
However, we believe that the decision is not either/or, it is and/and – and the brand becomes stronger for it. And that as a (would-be) influencer for your work and business, if you don’t get on board that social bus soon you are likely to be left behind.
As part of our new division FinchFactor Influence, we work with people who feel awkward when they are asked for their Twitter handle or whose social feed is littered with off-the-cuff angry questions to airline companies rather than compelling content, as well as people who cannot remember their passwords, or who know they need to do more to improve their social profile.
There is no doubt that a good social media following can be lucrative – just look at the net worth of the world’s biggest YouTube stars: PewDiePie’s net worth is currently estimated at $12m (£8.3m); and a single tweet from Gigi Hadid will set you back in the region of $30,000 (£20,781).
However, the currency at stake in our industry does not involve you live blogging your lunch. A professional social media presence is really a tool that can keep you a step ahead of industry peers and competition, and increase the likelihood of being picked for that money can’t buy, prime speaker opportunity, jury place and expert column.
Although deciding what channels you should use and getting them on track (including deleting those angry tweets) is often going to be step one, it is the second stage where things get really juicy. The people who are winning at ‘prosocial’ are able to launch self-initiated projects with ease.
Take Jessica Walsh, who a few years ago launched her 40 Days of Dating project. She tested the notion that it takes just 40 days to break a habit, to see if the formula meant that she could fall in love with her creative partner (she didn’t). This is just one of many self-initiated projects that she has launched, receiving huge organic PR, and increasing her following to 85,300 on Twitter, and 186,000 Instagram followers – a respectable figure for any brand.
Potentially, she could single-handedly launch projects with a single tweet. Could this be the end of the press release? It is my bet that she does not do a whole lot of cold calling to generate new business opportunities, either.
There are, of course, different platforms for different needs. Unless you are really dedicated to the cause, it is often worth concentrating on one platform and doing it brilliantly, rather than attempting to balance a concept Instagram account, YouTube gaming channel, and witty Twitter feed. Think about what you want to get out of your social feeds and apply your time to the things that are most relevant. If you are looking for more exposure for projects, for instance, Twitter might be your best bet. After all, Twitter is used by almost 25% of journalists.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that it is extremely rare to buy into a business and not the people: a LinkedIn profile is 14 times more likely to be interacted with if there is a profile picture. There are different degrees of how ‘into it’ you get – addiction is not necessary. But take it seriously, because it is more important than you think.