The Executive Assistant’s Guide to Using Social Media Like a Pro
Social media has undeniably changed the world — and the way we do business in it. Gone are the days when social media was strictly social. Now brands, thought leaders, companies, and yes, even your executives, are using social media for business in various ways. As an executive assistant, how can you use social media in a way that helps your career, instead of distracting from it? Between the algorithms and the best practices and the 24/7 updating, using social media can seem daunting. It’s hard enough just keeping up with all the likes, comments, shares, retweets!
We get it. Not everyone is a natural when it comes to how to use social media. To many, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, SnapChat (the list goes on…) are just annoyances that distract from what’s really important in life. However, social media can be an incredible tool when utilized in a positive and constructive manner. It can actually make you a more productive, accomplished executive assistant.
So how can you use social media to your advantage?
We compiled three tips to optimize your social media (besides looking at all those funny cat videos, because who regrets that??).
By the end of this article, you will have the information you need to jumpstart your social media presence, network with professionals through social media, understand the importance of building your professional brand online and learn some tips on how to network for you and your executive.
Grab a pen and paper, you’re going to want to take notes!
These days, a ‘brand’ means so much more than just a logo. A brand can be attributed to everything from a fashion line to someone’s lifestyle. Recently, the term ‘personal brand’ has come to light to explain those who publicize everything they do and create cohesiveness around all of it. For those who aren’t social media savvy, the idea of building a brand can be intimidating, but having a presence online can work for you as a networking extension. Think of your online brand as your personal cheerleader that follows you around and touts your greatest achievements to potential colleagues and coworkers. Before we go further, let’s get into the right mindset with a quick social media 101 rundown.
Social Media 101 for Executive Assistants
- Know Your Goals: What do you want your profile’s feed to be? A personal portfolio of your work? A highlight reel of your skills? A place to make connections? Look to leaders and peers in the executive assistant field that you respect and admire, and adopt a “monkey see, monkey do” attitude. Note which accounts draw you in, and what parts of their profiles inspire you. Not sure where to start? Pick 2-3 adjectives you’d like people to think of when your name comes up, then make sure your posts could be described by at least one of those words! Use your profile to connect with people you admire and put out content that others can learn from. Think of your online profile as a moving, breathing resume. And be sure to keep it visual, especially on Instagram, which is first and foremost an image-focused social media platform.
- Set Up for Success: Write a clear, professional bio with your name, job title, location, current (or former) employer, links to your personal website or other social media profiles, and special hashtags that show off your expertise. Though LinkedIn is still the most popular place for recruiters to search for new talent, it’s smart to sprinkle in keywords in all of your bios and captions. That will help employers find and recognize you and your skills! If you want to have a non-professional profile, set it to private. You should expect your public profiles to be seen by professionals. Use them as online resumes and tout your professional accomplishments. Don’t forget to make your profile public so that potential dream jobs can find you.
- Be Selective with Content: If you wouldn’t want a future boss to see it, just don’t post it. This goes for ALL profiles and online activity. To keep things visually interesting, make use of dozens of free online tools like Canva and the built-in Instagram filters. Keeping a consistent look and tone can help people who find your profile stick around and become a follower! The Instagram Stories feature can also be a great way to highlight exciting events you’ve led or successes you’ve achieved. Sharing others’ posts (especially those of people whose attention you’d like to snag) can be a great way to stay on brand and expand your network. Speaking of which…
- Build Connections: Following people and companies you admire is a great way to stay in contact and keep track of their updates and events. It’s also a great way to make that personal connection that’s so key. Tagging or direct messaging (DM’ing) a company can hook you up with the person managing that account who is most likely an employee or involved in recruiting. That’s one way to stand out from the competition!
- Consistency: Consider posting once a week at the minimum, and more than that if you have enough content. You can use free apps like Hootsuite, Buffer or Plan to automate your posting if you don’t want to spend too much time online each week! Keeping your profile updated shows you’re social media savvy and keeps you at the forefront of others’ attention.
Alright, we’ve set up the mindset you need to master social media! Now, let’s dive into the strategy. We’re going to go over how to build your brand, how to modernize your networking and how to stay industry savvy.
- Build Your Brand: No, you don’t have to be an influencer or a small business to create a personal brand on social media. Personal branding can help establish you as a leader in the administrative professionals field. As an executive assistant, the best way to stand out is to lean into what makes you uniquely yourself: Your background, skills, talents and interests. For example, if you’re known for being a killer meeting facilitator, you’re much more likely to become well known for that when you highlight it on social media. Building a social media presence that represents the best of you and your achievements can help you catch the attention of clients, people you’d like to network with and even potential future employers. Think of it as a portfolio for your professional life, a way for people who don’t know you yet to find out who you are, what your strengths are and what you stand for, all in one place!
- Modernize Your Networking: Most people are begrudgingly aware that networking is the key to career progress, but can’t stand the thought of networking events. If this is you, you probably feel at least a hint of dread or irritation when you’re obligated to drag yourself to that professional mixer your friend keeps nagging you about.
But here’s the great news: Social media has revolutionized networking.
The olden days of in-person networking events and staff mixers are rapidly being succeeded by virtual introductions via social media. Instead of carving the time out of your busy schedule to dress nicely, drive to a venue, find parking and eventually hide in the bathroom to restore your sanity, you can reach hundreds of new colleagues without ever leaving the comfort of your home.
Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram can be excellent tools for broadening and strengthening your relationships with others in your industry, as well as meeting new friends who can help get you get your foot in the door. But places like Twitter can feel terrifying if you don’t know where to start… You’re busy with work and keeping your executive on track so let’s get you up to date, quick!
Your Social Media Guide to Networking:
- Find your folks. No need to waste time scrolling through accounts that have nothing to do with you and your interests! Networking starts with finding the right people to connect with. One great way to get started is to browse through the “Who to Follow” section, or search through keywords for topics you’re interested in.
- Stick to your brand. See our handy “Social Media101” section for more, but the gist is this: Don’t be afraid to show the world who you are! From your profile picture and bio alone, potential connections should feel like they already know you just a little bit.
- Be professional. Maybe you’re really into that anime character you usually use as your avatar, but if you’re looking to find business connections, you’re going to want to have a professional-looking photo as your profile picture.
- Reshare, reshare, reshare. Resharing posts from someone you want to connect with is a great little nudge to say, “Hey! I like what you’re saying and I share some interests and opinions with you!” without coming across as too pushy. Plus, it gives the other person a thrilling rush of dopamine that comes from being appreciated online, kicking your relationship off to a positive start! You can also build off that reshare by adding a comment of your own to get their attention and give them an idea of your personality.
Not only can you connect and network with colleagues on a global scale, but social media gives you unprecedented access to leadership when you would otherwise have trouble even getting an email through. Interested in a certain company? See if their higher-ups are on Twitter, and follow them if so. Don’t head straight in for the kill, though. There’s nothing more unprofessional than messaging a CEO out of the blue and asking them to look at your resume (can you hashtag #CareerSuicide?). Instead, start establishing a genuine correspondence by resharing and commenting on their posts, and using your mutual friends/followers to introduce you. Having a common acquaintance or common interest is an advantage for connecting with someone, and social media can provide you with that insight!
- Stay Industry Savvy: Social media is an invaluable tool for tracking relevant information and trends in your profession, monitoring your company’s online presence, or learning about exciting developments within your industry. A great way to stay up-to-date is to find groups and hashtags for people who share your career goals or job title. Look into joining Facebook groups for executive assistants. For example, ELS moderates the great group “Executive Leadership Support Network,” where executive assistants go to ask questions, learn from and support each other, and be connected to great resources and information!
You can use Twitter and Facebook as a tool to learn more about a company’s recent developments, needs they’re looking to fill, and the general culture and work-life balance (or unfortunate lack thereof). Sites like these and Google Business/Reviews can also give you an idea of how your competitors are succeeding or failing, and you can learn from their experiences.
Customers are quick to give their opinions by sharing their displeasure on social media, so keep an eye on the biggest topics and grievances to learn from others’ mistakes.
LinkedIn is also a great resource for tracking specific companies, people and career opportunities. Spend time getting to know the search features that let you hone in on networks of people, companies and job postings.
Staying up to date on social media also can mean free access to experts in your field! Hunt down the writer of that New York Times article you found so inspiring, or the speaker from that conference who gave you new insights. Chances are, they’re on Twitter or Instagram sharing more priceless (and literally price-less) information from their experience and expertise.
Social media is such a huge part of our daily life on a personal level, but more and more employers are valuing those in the workforce who know how to harness it and put it to professional use. When you learn how to use social media for business, you give yourself an edge and stand out from the competition.
Now get out there and get posting!