5 Ways Students Can C.R.A.F.T. an Effective Social Media Presence

When used properly, social media can positively impact college, graduate school, scholarship, internship and employment opportunities.

High school and college students are bombarded with reminders about the growing importance of their social media presence. When used properly, social media can positively impact college, graduate school, scholarship, internship and employment opportunities. Telling students to be smart with their social media without providing proper guidance can be a frustrating exercise. Here are five actionable steps students can follow to start building an informative and positive social media presence.

Create Compelling Content:  Most students must first break the habit of posting impulsively and spontaneously before taking steps to build a meaningful digital presence for their future. Posts made “in the moment” will leave a digital trail that is often shallow, unimpressive and inconsistent. An effective social media presence is built by way of deliberate and meaningful posts producing an accurate digital portfolio that is insightful, introspective and identifying.

Resume Replacement: Colleges and employers are using social media to search for, identify and recruit talented students and employees. Social media is replacing the resume as the primary source of relevant information on candidates. Also, the recently announced Coalition College Application will incorporate an online student digital portfolio as a key component of the college admissions process. Students must learn the necessary skills to effectively post work samples, write blogs, and other descriptive content to  build a discoverable and authentic social media presence. The academic and professional opportunities presented by social recruitment requires students to establish a social media presence on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These are the go-to recruitment platforms and will serve to establish a stronger presence via Google Search.

Audience and Attributes: Most students post content geared towards impressing their friends. The fun part of social media lies in part on the thrill of receiving positive feedback via retweets, likes, shares, comments and new followers. With this limited perspective and purpose, it is easy for students to forget about their larger social media audience. College admissions officers, scholarship committees, coaches and employers will often form a first impression based on a social media review prior to meeting that person in real life. As students realize their public social media profiles are searchable and open to scrutiny, they will start posting content that reflects upon the skills and attributes they wish to convey to potential colleges and employers.

While living in the moment has always come naturally to teens, the permanent and discoverable nature of social media and its growing impact on future academic and professional decisions will accelerate the need for teens to contemplate their futures earlier than ever before.

Future Focus:  Students must work to break themselves free from the fear of missing out (FOMO) and you only live once (YOLO) mentality. While living in the moment has always come naturally to teens, the permanent and discoverable nature of social media and its growing impact on future academic and professional decisions will accelerate the need for teens to contemplate their futures earlier than ever before. Even the new Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success advocates high school students to start their college applications during freshman year.  Here is where our advice veers off the beaten path – we doubt students will be negatively judged by colleges and employers for typical teenage sophomoric behavior portrayed on social media. This is all the more reason to produce content for a later date.

Tell Tales: Social media is all about storytelling. Students can tell their own stories using words, photos, audio and video. Rich content displays on Instagram create instant portfolios. LinkedIn provides a platform to communicate high school and college experiences beyond a checklist snapshot. Life experiences can be turned into blogs and posted on LinkedIn or Blogger. Activities, causes, interests and inspirations fit nicely into a Facebook profile. Twitter provides a great platform to share this content with others and to introduce students to people and communities who share their interests.

Students should follow the five elements of C.R.A.F.T. to guide them to create a compelling social media presence that will supplement their resume and applications. A thoughtful social media presence will positively set themselves apart from other candidates and will position them to benefit from the rise of social recruitment. By utilizing the powerful storytelling elements of social media, they will effectively be communicating their dreams and aspirations to an important future audience.