Social Media: How Does it Add Value?

Are you stoically silent on social media? Or is it beginning to sound like something that could add value to your professional life? Last week, I launched this series on use of social media, and it’s clearly touched a chord. We began with the introduction of seven accomplished admin. professionals from five different countries, each of whom offered insights into why they use social media.

Today, some of our panel members are going to dive a little deeper into discussion of how social media channels add value to their professional lives, and the choices they make.

The Impact of Social Media, and Its Place in Our Lives

Diana - GermanyDiana of Berlin, GermanyLast week, Diana mentioned her use of LinkedIn and Xing for professional purposes.

I also like the fact that I can virtually meet new people from my professional environment over these platforms. My network association, EUMA  (European Management Assistants), has member groups in Xing, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, so it is simply wonderful meeting all these great assistants virtually.

But other peer groups are also beneficial and I am a proud member of various groups in the field of office management, communication, networking and administrative assistant environments. My advice here is to join groups that attract you and you will see how easy it is to enlarge your network.

I am not a member of Pinterest or Instagram. There are simply too many sites out there and I do not have to be part of every social media channel. Same with google+. Since I have a google account, I have access to google+, but hardly use it.

Corcoran, JenniferJennifer Corcoran of London, England:  Last week, Jennifer discussed the benefits of social media for introverts and offered that social media networking is no longer a “nice to have”.

The great thing about social media is that you are also given the opportunity to follow and engage with brand ambassadors and influencers. Lisa Olsen described us during a conference as relationship engineers. We are already super connectors within our companies and personal lives, but now we need to reach out that little bit further.

Administrative professionals make up a fifth of the world’s working population. We need to recognise the value of our personal impact and how it is impossible to not have an image or presence. We are brand ambassadors for our role, boss, company and ultimately the PA profession.

A social media presence will undoubtedly enable Personal Assistants to perform at their best. A solid profile implies credibility, professionalism and that you are an expert in your chosen field. This is particularly relevant for dealings with customers, suppliers, peers and even recruiters.

My top tip is to always check the security and privacy settings of each platform. Once you are in control you will feel more comfortable. You can organise contacts by lists or tags – we live our lives by lists, so why should social media be any different? If someone wants to connect with you and you don’t know them or feel they are not relevant to you, then don’t connect – think quality over quantity.

Johnson, Karen - UKKaren Johnson of London, England: Last week, Karen  mentioned her initial exploration of LinkedIn as an electronic rolodex, and a vehicle through which she could link people she thought might be good business connections for one another. Read on to see how Karen built upon her initial use of LinkedIn.

Through my research I found the “Groups” option and my whole world opened up as I started joining groups relevant to my profession. Suddenly I was part of discussions or reading peoples’ views on the workplace, apps, conferences, networking events and so much more. I started to connect with other PAs & VAs who were influencers. I wanted to be part of this. I started gaining confidence in my jobs. I become more solution focused when I realised how much information was ‘out there”. I couldn’t believe how many people were prepared to share their expertise for free by way of online resources.

Then this window on the world led me to Twitter, an instant and interactive platform that had me swapping 140-character tweets with other PAs and businesses. I realised this was another mode of communication that had an added element of fun. It encourages you to be three dimensional; as well as wearing your business hat, you find people want to know a bit about your hobbies or interests. I liked this aspect and I started to think about how I want to be perceived; I started to build my brand.

I have grown a network of like-minded professionals who engage with me regularly and help me grow. I feel more “switched-on” and up-to-date with the vast strides that this profession has been making.

When the economy fell apart in 2008 and training and development budgets were frozen, I turned to Twitter and You Tube and discovered all the free online training that is available via companies like Grovo.com and Alison.com, and the hundreds of individuals who generously make videos on what they’ve learnt. It’s incredible. These channels helped me to fix printers, navigate my new MAC computer and plot strategies for my career.

Social media became a topic of conversation with my PA/EA friends and bosses who felt that it was an unnecessary channel full of gossip and trolling. I was stunned and started providing training to show them the full potential of social media.  Most people get the value of LinkedIn as a business tool, but Twitter is harder to sell. There are still some who ask me, “What on earth do you tweet about?” Interestingly, when I train small business owners, they embrace social media very quickly and to my mind PAs/EAs are business owners, too. They are often running companies alongside their bosses, so these platforms should be explored.


Luoni, Michela
Michela Luoni of Busto Arsizio, near Milan, Italy: Last week, Michela discussed how social channels have changed our communication styles. Here are more of her thoughts.

I’ve checked when I started using social media, and my first landing at a social network was LinkedIn; that is my “oldest” social network. I joined LinkedIn in October 2007, and Facebook in May 2008.
 
I’ve been on Twitter only since 2010, but so far it’s my favourite. It’s a mix: you can follow people, companies, magazines, restaurants and so on either for professional or leisure purposes. You can be yourself or an avatar. You can “follow” and “unfollow” people and businesses, and no one gets offended. You can just watch the newsfeed or interact and “like” and “share”.  And unless you add someone to your favourites, you won’t receive any notifications from them. Twitter is a peaceful and democratic social network.

Schmidt, Julia - NorwayJulia Schmidt of NorwayIn the first article of this series, Julia discussed her intentional limitation to three social media channels: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. She elaborated on how she uses LinkedIn.

What keeps me motivated to use these channels is the opportunity they are giving me to connect to brilliant professionals: inspiring EAs, PAs and other professionals with whom I would not otherwise be in touch.

Facebook is an easy-to-use social media channel. It was my first foray into the social media world. What motivated me to go from private use to professional use, by joining EA and PA groups, was the fact that many Facebook groups are for members only. Participating in open groups, I started being more restrictive. I avoid disclosing information that is too much related to my role and company.

Want, MatthewMatthew Want of Staines, EnglandMatthew began by identifying social media as a “must have” for most business, and discussed the channels he uses. He also offered his insights on privacy.

There are several terminologies used in the world of social media,  and some are a lot easier to understand than others. For example, connections are people who you have connected with, whether or not you already know them. DMs are direct messages, also sometimes known as PMs (private messages). DMs are on most platforms of social media and are a great way to connect with others, especially if the conversation may be personal.

Still to Come in this Series: More on terminology, privacy  and recommended resources
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