"Get fit." "Lose weight." "Find a new job." "Be a better person." We've all fallen prey to vague, half-assed resolutions which we know full well will not survive the month. But with so much of our lives lived online nowadays, there are a few important changes that are worth the effort, and which just might land you that new job, in 2015. When it comes to social media, the little things often have the biggest impact on how others view your suitability for a job; your worth as an acquaintance or contact; or your entertainment value as someone to follow.
Here are the seven resolutions you should follow through in 2015.
1. Clean up your profiles.
Regardless of whether or not you plan on looking for a new job this year (or next), you should be actively monitoring your social media profiles. Just as you take the time to take a shower and dress in a certain way, you should present your best possible self online as well. Recruiters will google you, people you meet will look at your social networks, and everything you post online, regardless of your privacy settings sometimes, will show up. And before posting - or allowing someone to tag you in - a picture from your spring break in 2008 for #TBT, take the time to ask yourself whether that's how you want to be represented to the world.
Take an hour or two to go through your Facebook albums and pictures. You might even want to remove your Facebook profile from Google. This exercise takes only a few hours of your time but could help you avoid missing out on great career opportunities.
2. Improve the way you use LinkedIn.
Along with cleaning up what you may have done online in the past, it's time to look ahead at how to best market yourself going forward. For many, Linkedin is the social network that gets ignored in favor of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You need to change that. Even in 2013, 94 percent of recruiters used LinkedIn to vet candidates. It doesn't matter if you're happy in your current position or not; it's so common nowadays for professionals to look at your LinkedIn profile that you should be making it part of your daily social interaction.
Things you should do in the next month: Give a LinkedIn recommendation to an old colleague who deserves it, as well as endorse several people you know are great at their job.
3. Mute more people on social networks.
Before this year, if there was someone on your newsfeed that you didn't want to see updates from, your only option was to delete them. Not anymore. Earlier this year Twitter announced their new mute feature, following in the footsteps of Facebook rolling out the ability to ignore users without deleting them. Now you can continue to follow aunt Jenny without seeing all of her cooking recipes as well as continue to do followbacks and courtesy follows without getting stuck scrolling through undesirable tweets.
This may seem like a lot of work, but if you're serious about getting the most out of social media this year, this will make a huge difference.
4. Follow and interact with more knowledgeable sources
While you're cleaning up what you're going to see in your news feeds, why not add quality content to it as well? Social media used to just be a way to keep up with friends and family, but now, if used correctly, can be an incredible resource for knowledge, ideas, and advice.
Not sure where to begin? Start with Murray Newland's list of 29 Expert Marketers You Should Follow On LinkedIn and Twitter.
5. Read everything you post. AND fact-check.
As mentioned above, social media outlets have made it easier than ever for us to find and easily share curated content. Tools like Klout, Buffer, and Scoop.it offer a continuous stream of recommended articles. But while these tools can make you a more efficient social media user, they also make it tempting to click "share" before reading the entire article. I know I've certainly been caught posting something that had an interesting title and little to no substance behind it.
It's time for us all to stop sharing articles we haven't read: it's simply bad practice. Not only should we at least skim the post, but we should also pay attention to where it's coming from. False, misleading, or intentionally fake stories on social media can spread as fast as truths can.
When you share an article on social media, you're endorsing it. Take pride in your brand by taking the time to make sure you agree with what you share.
6. Try a new network.
Maybe you've grown weary of the popular go-to networks, like Facebook, Instagram or Vine. Why not try to be an early adopter this year on one of the many new social networks that are always popping up?
A few months ago I joined Ello after it's meteoric rise in popularity. I've also been interested to look into Yo, the ultra simple, gimmicky app that has become much more aggressively social or the photo app Shots, that's been rumored to be acquired by Twitter.
7. Remember that less can be more.
A beautiful edited Instagram photo of your meal or cat or wherever you are can be a beautiful thing. But posting all of them in the last hour? Not so much.
That same rule applies to rapid-fire tweeting or constant Facebook updates. Unless you're live-tweeting from a tech conference, don't overwhelm your news feeds or you may end up being one of those ignored users we discussed at the beginning.