Are you building a brand or wasting your time on social media?

Have you taken a social media break this summer? Social media has become a huge part of society and our daily schedules. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you use it. Before you jump back in, think about how much time you could save if you had a thoughtful strategy for measuring the value of your time beyond likes. Social media is one communication engagement tool that can help you develop career and speaking opportunities by building your brand and community online. What if you could use social media to move your career forward?

Globally we spend an average of two hours and twenty three minutes per day on social media. With 60% saying they are constantly connected. There are many advantages and disadvantages to social media. Understanding them can allow you to get the most out of your social media time while avoiding the significant pitfalls. Imagine knowing what you want to post and having a positive circle of people recommending you and referring people to follow you regularly.

Social media is here to stay. According to LinkedIn’s website there’s more than 645 + million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Ensure that your social media habits are adding more to your life than they subtract by setting clear goals and holding yoruself responsible for staying on track.


Social media can add a lot to your life:

Establish yourself as a thought leader. LinkedIn’s corporate vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. If you are interested in advancing your career, social media can be a great way to share your insights from a conference, advice as a subject matter expert, or something you do well with the world to attract paid opportunities. Writing posts with relevant and timely information makes it easier for your followers to introduce you to the right people. Sharing your knowledge online is a free way to market yourself and your gifts.

Build your tribe. Most likely you have friends, colleagues and family around the world. Social media makes it easy to find out the latest from the 2.23 billion people who log in to Facebook every month to stay up to date on current events and news. Coordinate events and invite your friends to support causes important to you. Survey your audience and use analytics to adjust your content based on traffic and engagement. Try searching for people who are interested in solving the same problem or challenge to learn best practices and you could meet a potential collaborator or future colleague.

Grow Your Network. Do you have friends you’ve only met online? You know, the person you’ve followed for years hoping one day your paths will cross. What would happen if you actually talked to them? Social media is not just about posting consistently, you have to talk to others. Establishing new relationships can help you be more productive and successful. You can meet people online, learn what you have in common and introduce yourself for free! Plus, 88% of Instagram users are outside of the United States and the platform has the highest interaction rate meaning greater engagement with your audience. If you want a mentor in New York or a recruiter in Paris, you’re in luck. If you like to travel, you can join Facebook Groups or search for locals with similar interests to start making friends in your destination country before you even take off.

Expand Your Influence. People need to know, like and trust you to do business with you, refer you to their network and believe you are an expert in your field. The first step is awareness and social media platforms like LinkedIn let you market to the world’s largest professional audience. Imagine if you could target your message and connect intentionally with recruiters, event planners, and potential customers online. If you have ideas you want to spread and share, social media provides an effective platform to make your voice heard and build your credibility.

Monetize Your Brand. More than 60% of Instagram users report an income over $100,000 according to a survey of 2,000 U.S. residents’s social media habits. And 71% of U.S businesses use Instagram. There’s over 25 million business profiles and over 200 million users visit at least one business profile every day. It’s true, there are a lot of people making money from social media, either directly by selling digital products or from marketing their business. As an author, I can see a direct link between my online engagement and my book sales. From paid consulting gigs to speaking and partnership opportunities, you can enhance your business strategies if you have a plan for educating your audience and you’ve implemented the systems to complete online sales.

Developing a career as a sought after speaker will expand the impact of your work globally. Social media can only help you if you have a plan to avoid the common missteps that get people stuck wasting time online.

The downsides of social media

There are many disadvantages, too:

Social media can trigger impostor syndrome. Scrolling perfectly lit, professionally produced videos and photos set in exotic locations can be enough to make you feel like there’s no point in posting. If you only have a few followers and not 10,000 followers you can’t even access some tools like live video on LinkedIn or the swipe up feature on Instagram. The idea of capturing the perfect video for many people is enough to trigger your worst social anxiety or even make you feel depressed directly comparing your journey to someone on the internet. You see their stunning home, crisp outfits, or new branding photos and it’s natural to feel like you’re not doing as well as they are. Repeat after me: I will not compare myself to someone on the internet. Seriously. Everyday there’s a story exposing the work behind the scenes to make the most casual shots look picture perfect. In my opinion it gives branding a bad name. The internet is not the place to hide your personality and create a new persona, my philosophy is to connect with others to learn and develop my interests.

Social media has a dark and dangerous side. Did you know that there is a robot in Saudi Arabia that has protection as a human being? That means that if that robot starts to attack people, the creator couldn’t shut it down without a trial. Everyday we are making technical advancements without a clear view to the long term implications. Just as we’ve seen with the negative impacts to our attention span from our increasing use and potential addiction to digital devices, there is an ugly underbelly to social media that most people don’t want to think about when posting photos of our loved ones. Beyond the shallow end of the Internet ocean there is a darker side that many of us wouldn’t want to access if we knew how. With each data breach it becomes more apparent that there is a lack of innovation and authority driving the rules and bureaucratic red tape (remember net neutrality’s repeal?) alongside the fact there’s no real geographic borders on the internet. Never forget the internet brought us the show Catfish when people pose as someone else to attract a love interest and sometimes convince them to send money or gifts before they are exposed as an impersonator. Remember that the next time you see your college friend with her seeming perfect family, marriage, job, and house on Facebook.

People only post the good times. Think of your favorite influencer to follow. What is the last negative thing they shared? Even the most transparent, keep it real celebrity thinks about the message they are sending before they post. I guarantee you that she doesn't want to tell you that she might be going through a divorce, hate her job, and be in danger of missing her payment on her house. Because those unpleasant truths that come with adulting aren’t the types of things people usually put on social media. For people chasing likes, showing you what's happening behind the scenes doesn't have the same reward as posting new cars, outfits and exotic trips. The trick is to not make assumptions. Before you commit to investing more time into social media make sure you protect yourself to avoid the common mistakes that get people stuck.

Be more effective and impactful. The average American spends 58 minutes each day on Facebook. Sitting on your phone or computer can be a big distraction and impact your job performance and relationships. Track how much time you’re spending and ask yourself if that’s the best use of your time. Setting an intention for what you want to accomplish with your time to support your goals like researching companies for your job search or connecting with inspirational quotes for motivation, think before you log in.

Protect Yourself. As an attendee at the International Government Communication Forum in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates I heard from experts like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on the global challenges and negative impact of connecting people. We’ve all heard the stories of the dark web and project like Cambridge Analytica that harness the power of the internet to mislead and harm people without their knowledge. You likely know someone who is the victim of online stalking or has been bullied online.

Before you post, consider how your words and images could be used against you when it goes beyond your friends, and family.

Don’t share personal information without checking references and never take photos of financial information or your personal identification. Avoid sharing your location or the personal details of others by reviewing your phone and platforms privacy settings. It might sound extreme but my motto is : you are only paranoid until it happens.

● Now you might be ready to quit the internet altogether. After all, it's been said that social media is only good for two things: stalking people and showing off.

It can be socially isolating. Have you ever felt alone in a crowd? While social media can be a good way to stay in touch, too many people use it as a substitute for face to face communication. Ensure that you’re still getting outdoors and genuinely connecting with others.

Social media can be a game changing tool to build your professional network and personal support system, putting a plan in place increases your chances of avoiding the downsides of the Internet. Grow your network and learn something new, too. Just be sure to understand that few people are putting the full truth of their life on social media.

Don’t compare yourself to people on the internet. You are doing great in real life.

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Was this article helpful? For more exercises like this one, check out my book on success and finding your purpose in life. Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Moving Your Career Forward tells the story of how one woman found the time and energy to overcome the battle for advancement in corporate America.

As an author, speaker, and mom I share the unwritten rules and the advice of my mentors to evolve your dream job into your dream life, taking control of your time and designing a set of values to lead you onward. Subscribe to my mailing list to get articles in your inbox!