8 Factors to Consider When Creating Online Profiles | Having trouble figuring out your online presence? You’re not alone. Creating online profiles, growing them to an appropriate size, and maintaining them over time can quickly start to feel overwhelming for newcomers. Especially if using social media is not something that comes naturally to you.
Luckily, we’ve made this process easier by compiling a shortlist of different factors to keep in mind while you establish your online identity. Read on to find out exactly what you need to know.
The number one question to ask yourself when creating an online profile, whether personal or professional, is this: What information do you want to share, and what do you want to be kept private?
Oversharing of sensitive information is an all too common occurrence when people set out to build a professional presence on the internet.
We fall into this trap by assuming that only people who are potential clients, employers, and business associates will view our profile; and that sharing more information will increase chances of an opportunity coming our way.
In reality, everything you share may be viewed by any random person who stumbles upon it. And because it makes your profile appear unfocused and unprofessional, oversharing is more likely to lose you opportunities than not.
Sharing only necessary and harmless information and keeping the privacy settings in mind while you create online profiles will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
- Tone & Messaging
What is the tone you want to convey with your profile?
Messaging is a term that describes words, phrases, and information that produce a certain tone. Having a solid grasp of it is particularly important when creating online profiles for professional use.
One great example of proper professional messaging can be found on the Wikipedia page for Suzanne Clark, current president of the U.S Chamber of Commerce.
By focusing only on her education and career timeline, the messaging of the page conveys a strong professional tone that presents Clark as an experienced authority in her field.
Likewise, having a detailed history of employment, education, and other relevant experience on your profiles will also serve to reinforce that air of professionalism you are looking for.
- Personality & Style
That being said, the goal of a professional profile is not to be dry or robotic. Not only is there is ample room for personality and creativity in your profiles, but most people encourage it.
This is the case for two basic reasons. The first is that there are thousands upon thousands of other profiles besides yours, and so people have no reason to spend time browsing a profile that bores them or is similar to another.
The second reason why personality is recommended is that people don’t have enough time or attention to sift through your profile and find your unique qualities. They have to be front and centre if you want to be noticed.
Many people add a touch of personality to their profiles by briefly mentioning a hobby they enjoy, or by writing with a bit of added flair. Experimenting with different profile designs is also a great way to stand out from the crowd.
However, be sure not to go overboard. Your overall goal should be to balance personality with professional messaging and maintaining an appropriate level of privacy. Becoming too personal is another form of oversharing.
Arguably more important than the information you share, the imagery you choose for your profile deserves special attention.
Being the social animals we are, trust is often communicated through body language and visual facial cues. And so, nothing is more detrimental to a public profile’s credibility than having no, or a terrible profile picture.
The best profile picture you could have is a simple professional headshot, but any photo that clearly shows your face can suffice. If you find yourself uncomfortable with showing your face, then a placeholder image is fine too.
But try to aim for a professional headshot if you can. Having a placeholder image for your profile photo may come across as unprofessional to some. The same can be said of having multiple profile photos across different accounts.
In terms of other graphic media, like headers or other photos, these can be more flexible and tailored to your liking. However, it is highly recommended that these graphics correspond with your branding in some way.
Creating an awesome online profile means nothing if your target audience isn’t aware of it.
For this reason, it’s important to make sure you share the same platform as your target audience. If you’re targeting professionals or businesses, creating a profile on Instagram won’t be as effective as creating one on LinkedIn.
Another aspect of visibility relates to search engines. You want your social media profiles to show up when someone searches your name or keywords that relate to your field.
It’s a good idea to check the accuracy of what pops up for your search results every once in a while by using incognito mode to google yourself. If your search results show all of your online profiles, you’re on the right track.
If not, review the settings in your profiles and ensure that they are discoverable by search engines. And lightly sprinkle in some relevant keywords around your profile to make finding your stuff even easier.
- Cross-Platform Consistency
Once you’ve created multiple profiles across different platforms on the internet, it’s a good idea to go back and check for consistency in branding and information between the profiles.
You never know where a person may stumble upon your profile. Having blatant contradictions, missing information, different style, or other inconsistencies may mislead that person into thinking the profiles belong to different people.
Or even worse, someone may infer that the inconsistencies between your profiles reflect an inconsistency within your brand itself. Over time this could lead to many missed connections and opportunities.
Your work doesn’t stop after creating your profiles.
In order to facilitate their proper growth, you will have to maintain the state of your profiles on at least a semi-regular basis. This means both keeping all of your information up to date and checking in with the following you develop.
Neglecting a profile will cause follower loss over time, and eventually lead to stagnation. It also makes the possibility of inconsistent branding and its consequences far more likely.
If taking the time to maintain your profiles is not feasible, consider hiring a social media manager or closing the accounts which fall into disuse.
You could also consider using an online tool such as Google Alerts to monitor when and where your name or brand is mentioned online. That way, you can have a better understanding of how your profiles are performing.
Ultimately, engaging with your followers and the community at large is the only way to expand your online presence. Posting content that adds value to the community is the best approach for increasing engagement.
But there are other methods you could employ as well. Replying to comments, liking other’s content, and joining new conversations are also great strategies for cultivating engagement.
Also, many platforms have an analytics feature that can provide useful data on what content and strategies produce the highest amounts of engagement. You could alternatively use a free service like Google Analytics to keep track.
To put it simply, if you use the platforms you exist on to the fullest extent, you will see tremendous growth eventually. It will take time though, so don’t expect to have a following in one night.
Bonus: What Not To Do
Just as there are plenty of best practices when it comes to establishing yourself online, there are also a few major and minor bad practices that you ought to avoid.
Perhaps the most common bad practice is lying or exaggerating about aspects of yourself, your expertise, or your accomplishments. Authenticity is the highest good on the internet, and people will swiftly revoke their support if they find you are not truthful.
Being way too pushy with your content is also a bad idea. There is nothing wrong with promoting yourself and your interests, but being too aggressive about it will turn people away from your message.
Another egregious bad practice is to rely solely on your online presence for networking and spreading your message. While online profiles are extremely powerful in this day and age, they should complement real-world efforts.
Last but not least, make sure that you don’t lose sight of the purpose or reason why you are creating an online presence in the first place. It will bleed through your profiles and content if you do, and your followers will surely notice.
One Last Consideration When Creating Online Profiles
While you navigate this online space, don’t be afraid to seek assistance if you need it. There are plenty of people and resources you can access that could help you in creating online profiles, some of which can be found on this site.
So be sure to browse our other articles for more useful information.