Auto-pilot online: Automating your professional social media presence

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Auto-pilot online: Automating your professional social media presence

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Molly Boushell, Writer

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Social media was a fun way to express yourself and connect with friends, but now it feels like a waste of time, a compulsion, or an obligation. But as future professionals, staying engaged on social media is important for college students to do.

“I think that creating a personal brand through social media is extremely important.” said Lexi Sheldon, Social Media Manager for Her Campus at UMass Amherst. “On social media, people can choose who they follow or who they are friends with…It is important that you hold yourself to a standard that attracts people to you in a way.”

People get squeamish about “personal branding,” but a strategic social media presence is the online equivalent of choosing to shower, brush your teeth, and get dressed in the morning. Caring about your personal appearance doesn’t make you shallow, and putting thought into how you present yourself online isn’t inauthentic.

To minimize social media drain while building a personal brand, set your social media accounts on auto-pilot.


Getting Started

Start by assessing your current social media presence. Ask yourself:

  • What do I want to be an expert on?

  • What image am I trying to convey?

  • What are my social media goals?

More platforms can mean a wider audience, but inactive accounts and a haphazard approach do more damage than good. Start with two platforms, Facebook and Twitter, and build from there.


Klout (Don’t stop reading.)

Klout may be oft mocked, even despised, but in February 2014 it became an easy one-stop social media service that ranks its users in terms of online social influence. Other websites, like HootSuite or Tweetdeck, allow you to schedule more social media platforms, but the new Klout is an all-purpose tool with minimal effort and next-to-no learning curve.


Creating Content

Next, decide what to talk about. Klout’s best new feature collects a stream of relevant content based on tags you track, and uses badges to denote stories that are “On Target” or “On the Rise.” Scroll over these to learn the percentage of your audience interested in the topic, or how far above average the story’s share rate is. Pull compelling stories and those that show an interest in your professional field.

Use a mix of personal and professional content for a well-rounded presence. Add visuals to text with pictures and video. Favorite quotes or songs are easy content, but use them sparingly. A few and your audience gets better idea of who you are, but too many implies you have nothing original to contribute.

Life provides unscheduled occasions to post throughout the week. Consider unanticipated content a bonus that builds on your content baseline and prevents scheduled content from looking stale.



Strategic scheduling is straightforward; deliver content when your audience is online to see it.

Paste text into the field at the top of the Klout homepage, and add pictures or links. Then, click the scheduling tab and pick a day. Klout will list the three best publishing times, or provide you with a projected timeline of your audience’s activity that day.

Remember that the further into the future you schedule a post, the less timely it will be. Some stories are always relevant, and scheduling this “evergreen content” for the end of the week will prevent your posts from becoming old news.



Klout is known for scores that measure social media influence from 1 to 100.

Users willing to invest time and energy for analytics should find a better service, but Klout is enough for a general idea of social media reach. Compare your Klout score to the average user’s 40, your roommate’s 63, or just your own from the past 90 days. You can’t improve what you don’t measure, so using a Klout score to track progress is better than nothing it at all.


During the Week

Your work is done, with two small caveats.

1) Post about big news that happens during the week. You want to appear as well-informed as you are.

2) Stop scheduled posts from publishing if a local or global tragedy occurs. Automate your social media, don’t “set it and forget it.”
With that, you are all set for the week. Whether you let people wonder where you find the time for social media, or let them in on the secret is entirely up to you.


Molly Boushell can be contacted at [email protected]

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