Make your social media profile shine like a cherry red sports car at your local car dealership. Here's how it's done.
You’ve established your social presence, you’ve gotten into a rhythm to posting on Twitter, and you’re networking up a storm on LinkedIn. You’re ready to take your social accounts to the next level.
So, what else can you do to take your profiles up a notch and join the ranks of the truly social-savvy? What little-known insider tips are you missing out on?
Here are 8 easy-to-implement ways to polish up your social media profiles on the major networks, with a few great examples featured:
Customize your direct link URL
By default, LinkedIn assigns you a direct link to your profile, which generally includes your name, a series of numbers, and various URL extensions. You can easily shorten this for use on business cards and other online profiles. Simply hover over the link on your LinkedIn profile page (directly below your profile photo) and click the pencil icon that appears to edit the link.
Pro tip: If available, use your Twitter handle as your LinkedIn name to make it easier for people to find you, and stakehold that name on every available channel for future use.
Add a cover photo
LinkedIn recently followed the trend set by Facebook and Twitter and rolled cover photos out as an option to individual users. Take advantage of this new feature to stand out among a sea of profiles by adding a picture that ties into your job, background, or interests. For inspiration, take a look at the profile of Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs; you’ll see a great cover image of one of her book pages rolling off the press. Showcase work you’ve designed, awards you’ve won, or even a piece of a published article in this space to make your profile unique.
Add samples of your work
LinkedIn enables you to share your work in a number of ways. Within the Summary section and within each position in your Experience section, you can upload or link to your work in various formats. Just go into “Edit Profile” and scroll down to the appropriate area to add documents, photos, videos, presentations, or links.
Another option is to share your work as a link on your newsfeed, just as you would with content on Facebook; this option has the secondary benefit of enabling your connections to share your content on their feeds, as well. Blog posts, presentations, and videos from speaking engagements are all great content to share with your connections. Most sites, including SlideShare, even enable you to post new uploaded content to your LinkedIn newsfeed automatically.
Related Article: The 10-Minute Social Media Workday
Add hashtags to your profile
One of the more common errors I see on Twitter is failing us use hashtags within the 160 character profile. This one is admittedly debatable; some experts advise including them and others feel they are just a distraction. But if you want to optimize for search engines, it’s worth hashtagging any keywords that you are already using in your profile. Golden Ashby, President of Social Media Club, has a very dynamic profile that uses hashtags effectively.
Pro tip: If you’re going to state where you work, or groups to which you belong, be sure to use the Twitter handle instead of the name; not only will this save valuable real estate in your limited available characters, but it helps promote your company and makes it easy for people to vet your background in a single click.
Lock down your content
If, like many of us, you’re limiting Facebook to purely personal usage, you may not realize just how much of your content is visible to the outside observer. Facebook makes it easy to check on your privacy settings to protect your personal brand. In the top right menu, click on the lock icon and under “Who can see my stuff?” select “View As” under the subheading “What do other people see on my timeline?”
You’ll now see everything that is visible to everyone. Make sure to click through the various tabs to see what content is open to the public. As an example, some photo albums may be public even if certain photos within are limited to friends. Old profile photos often remain public long after you’ve stopped using them as well. Facebook also makes it easy to change the settings for all past content at one time.
Pro tip: You can also use the “Who can see my stuff?” feature to check out what you’re sharing with people in different groups. Groups are a great way to use Facebook for both business and personal purposes while limiting different types of posts to different people.
Be careful with profile photos and cover photos
Speaking of profile photos being public, Facebook changed its position on hiding your profile in 2013. After years of being able to limit your profile to view by only friends of friends, suddenly all profiles became searchable and your profile and cover photos are now indexed by default to show up on a Google Image search of your name.
Unfortunately, not everyone realized that this means you now need to think before changing your profile photo. That great pic of you toasting with shots of Fireball whiskey at a bachelor party may be fun, but it’s not necessarily something you want showing up when someone Google’s your name. Think about what you’re putting up as your profile photo, opt out of linking your Facebook profile to search engines at all (that’s in the privacy section mentioned above, as well) or even better, follow #7 below, and standardize your profile photo across every platform.
Related Article: Why No One Likes You On Facebook
Use a standard headshot on every profile
If you really want to hit the gold standard in social media, get a professional headshot taken and use it across every social platform. In business, we standardize our logo usage to make certain that every impression on our stakeholders is consistent. Your social media photos should work the same way.
As the social media chair for the Insurance Accounting and Systems Association (IASA), I’ve often struggled when looking for someone’s account on Twitter to promote his or her conference session because the name is somewhat common and the photographs don’t match what I find on LinkedIn. If you have a unique name this may not be an issue for you, but trying to find a specific person named Brian Wilson, for example, on Twitter is challenging; there are simply too many options from which to choose. Giving people a consistent image across platforms makes it that much easier for them to find you, follow you, and tag you in posts.
Set up a master Google link
Finally, if you want to make it incredibly easy for people to find you, here’s a rather brilliant trick I borrowed from Mike Fraietta after speaking with him at a conference in 2014. Once you’ve gotten to the point that a Google Search pulls up all of your profiles to the top of your name search, Set up a custom link to your Google search page and create a shortened link at bitly.com or another similar service. I use 'http://bit.ly/dmreffitt' to link to all of my information in one place.
Like Mike, I now use this link as my web address on Twitter and other sites to make it that much easier for people to find me. While this is an easier solution if your name is less common, a similar strategy could work if you use the same handle across all platforms (see the pro tip in #1 above) and link to that handle instead of the direct name.
Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you make your profiles stand out and get noticed. Did I miss something? If you have other suggestions or ideas, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com and I’ll try to include them (including a shout out!) in a future post.