Make a resolution to do better on social media

The Christmas decorations are coming down and the New Year’s fireworks are going up. Also around this time, long lists of New Year’s resolutions go up, too.

Diet and exercise top most lists, as do stronger finances and better personal relationships. One thing also worth reviewing among freelancers and maybe revising for 2013 is the way they present themselves through social media.

Numbers are why. As 2012 wound down, Twitter users churned out 175 million tweets daily. An estimated 625,000 new users joined Google+ daily. Facebook garnered about 850 million active users monthly. And LinkedIn added 50 million members in one year; it needed six years to get its first 50 million.

In other words, social media has skipped well past the point of novelty and entered the realm of necessity, especially for freelancers intent on attracting attention. So then, it pays for freelancers to paint a clean, clear portrait of themselves online, if they haven’t already, to keep that attention coming.

A few crisp strokes can do that. These should encompass:

Profile photos — There’s a reason it’s called “social” media. Nevertheless, a lot of serious people trying to do serious business still hide behind the faceless default icon all social media platforms employ, the result being they don’t gain digital friends or, more importantly, win jobs, says Nicholas Salter, a professor of psychology at Ramapo College of New Jersey. He led a recent study that found those people on LinkedIn with profile pictures are more likely to get hired than those without.

Susan Gunelius, a marketing communications executive who is the author of “Google Blogger for Dummies,” underscores the value. “It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you for the first time.”

Headlines — In a newspaper or news website, headlines are concise declarations of pertinent information intended to announce, inform and attract. In a freelancing proposal, job application or social media campaign, writing with the crisp prose of headlines brings focus and adds clarity to one’s message. Studying the way headlines are written and following their form can do wonders at putting that message ahead of others.

Keywords — And speaking of headlines, keywords give those headlines punch. These keywords are the distinguishing terms lacing online business reports, blogs, and especially job postings, that search engines pluck out for categorization. Special attention paid to keywords helps turn heads and boost Web and social traffic. But keep them relevant; don’t trot out trendy terms just because everyone else has.

Research — Like the way a drip, drip, drip from a leaky faucet can be distracting, so too can social content designed to make more noise than sense. The best, most memorable content reflects an understanding of the intended audience and an appreciation for what that audience finds interesting. Invest time online in 2013 researching audience behavior and trends. Start by getting to know Google Analytics and Google Trends, and reading reports from Gartner, the Pew Research Center, and Poynter.

David Sheets, SPJ's Region 7 directorDavid Sheets is a freelance editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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  • RikLubking

    “any of the people targeted as “anti-Gamergate”. You mean any of the journalists/bloggers who wrote the massive amount of anti-gamer and anti-gamergate articles and are claiming without citing any actual evidence that there is rampant and systematic misogyny, sexism, intolerance and harassment amongst gamers? Ah no, I suppose you mean the same alleged victims of harassment that these same people have used time and time again to deflect any valid criticism of their work. I say “alleged victims” NOT because I’m denying that they’ve received abusive comments, but because there has never been any actual evidence of a credible threat against them. Police reports, FBI statements etc all point to the contrary, but that is always omitted in reports and GG are always characterised as a violent hate-mob. Harassment is terrible, sexism is terrible, noone is denying that, but unsubstantiated claims of either cannot be used to completely censor a conversation and demonise and silence people who disagree with the accusers political ideology. THAT is exactly what has been going on here and that is one of the things that we would like to address at AirPlay.

    Your comment only serves to underscore the need for this debate and illustrates the unquestioned bias and disdain that GamerGate has had to deal with for over 10 months now. Regardless of the previous commenter’s tone, I would like to sincerely thank SPJ for giving GamerGate a chance to tell our side of the story without being labeled as misogynysts even before we can open our mouths. I will fully admit that GG can be a handful and that internet and gaming culture can seem strange and overwhelming to outsiders (even to insiders sometimes ;)), but even though we are a rag-tag bunch, we are a group of PEOPLE gathered around our love for games, not our hate for women.

    So thanks for AirPlay SPJ! Let’s hope that despite the recent troubles AirPlay will go on and that it will be HONEST to everyone involved, that’s all we’re really asking for. Peace!

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