In the modern world, posting to social media is considered a normal weekly – if not daily – task. It gives you the ability to share with your community little snippets of your life, arranged in a digital album of content curated to tell your story. And while platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and LinkedIn allow you the freedom of personal expression, they are also a gold mine for journalists looking to dig up dirt to add to enliven their stories.
Social media can be the first place journalists go to conduct ‘research’ about the subject of their news reports – that is, to find out anything and everything they can about a person to paint a more accurate picture of their lifestyle. Have you noticed the media often use selfies and other images taken from the subject’s social media pages to help build context? And these images are generally ones that best fit the angle of their story. Think: a man has stolen a car and it has been reported he has an extensive criminal history. They aren’t going to show a photograph of him lokking kind and holding a kitten. Instead, they will select the image where he is looking menacing.
The same can be said for business owners. If the media are looking to add context to you or your brand, journalists will head to your personal social media pages in a bid to find out who you are and what you stand for. This is why it is important that your personal accounts reflect the same persona and messages you are trying to convey on your professional platforms.
Here are some tips to consider when using your personal social media:
Delete content that reflects badly on your personal brand
The first step to creating a solid social media presence is to take inventory of your current content and discard all that reflects poorly on your brand. Images of you and your friends on a boozy night out, riding the bucking bull or knocking back drinks at your local pub are likely not a good look and are worth deleting. The same could be said if you own or work for a company that has strong animal activism links and your personal social media account contains photographs of you enjoying rump steak. It is all about appearances – and this includes photos you have been tagged in as journalists can also see these. You can easily remove the tag so you aren't linked to those images.
Cull the accounts that do not align with your brand
In addition to physical content, journalists may look at the accounts you follow to gauge the kind of content you are consuming and supporting. If, for example, you own a private medical company and are looking to promote in the media a new research paper into childhood obesity and recommend regulatory changes and you are following a number of fast food outlets, your credibility is shot very quickly. We recommend taking time to assess what accounts you follow on your personal pages and cull where necessary.
Keep your content classy
Now you have cleaned up your current social media content, is time to think about your content moving forward. You can either opt to continue to maintain a personal account featuring insights into your personal life only, or you could take the other route of uploading images that will subtly promote your brand. For example, you might upload a photograph of yourself attending a charity function and tag the relevant accounts. Your caption could be tailored to highlight the good work you or your business is doing in relation to fundraising, supporting grassroots initiatives or launching a new product – whatever it may be. You might have uploaded similar content to your business page already so use your personal account as way to promote your individual feelings about the initiative or project, to really sell why you personally believe in the mission.
If maintaining a totally independent social media presence separate from your work is more aligned with your goals, that is totally fine. You can certainly create and maintain this delineation. In this instance, we recommend you switch your profile from ‘Public’ to ‘Private’, meaning your content can only be viewed by those who already follow you and people who request to do so (which you need to approve). This will stop a journalist’s prying eye from seeing what you are getting up to on the weekend and using your images without your consent. Be careful about being tagged in friends’ content though as that could go public depending on their settings.
If you want to maximise our advice and put together a carefully considered social media content plan for either your personal or business page, or both, our team at Profiler PR can help. We have a team of expert social media gurus who can craft content to align with your goals based on your key messages.
Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you shine on social via firstname.lastname@example.org