Social Media: Are You Managing Your Personal Brand or Wasting Time?

Today's job seekers are selling more to employers than their experience and skills; they're selling their personal brand. This creates whole new problems on the time management front. When are you using social media to further your career -- and when is it just a means of procrastination?

Twitter bird 

(Photo Credit: Uncalno/Flickr)

"Although I run a social media-focused company, I believe it can be a distraction -- many entrepreneurs spend far too much time idly browsing Twitter and Facebook and calling it work," says Emerson Spartz on MonsterWorking. "It has a low value compared to many other activities."

You're not a company, of course, but the basic idea is the same: you shouldn't spend more time on social media than actually benefits you. There needs to be a payoff. The problem is that figuring out ROI for social media is kind of tricky. What constitutes a return? Do you need a certain number of +1s, likes, or retweets?

To make sure you're getting what you need out of social media, and not losing time arguing with strangers about minutia, try the following:

1. Decide what you want to get out of social media.

Do you want to make connections with leaders in your industry, find clients, get hired, or promote yourself as an expert? Even if you just want to take a break from the daily grind, that's fine -- as long as you know that going in.

2. Keep a log.

If you find that there aren't enough hours in the day to do your job, but you have plenty of time to retweet posts about your favorite TV shows, it's time to reassess. Keep track of how much time you're spending on social, and be honest. Then figure out if some of that time would be better spent elsewhere.

3. Stay out of trouble.

If you're employed, tweeting and posting on the company time could get you in trouble with the boss, and fast. Find out the company policy about using social media during company hours or on corporate devices.

Even if your employer is pretty lax about participating in social media during work hours, remember to conduct yourself like a professional. Don't put anything online you wouldn't print out and hang over your desk at the office, and don't post when you're angry, tired, or otherwise not at your best.

You can delete a post, but not the impression of it. Make sure the public view of your personal brand is a good one.

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