Social Media and the Life Cycle of a Safety Career

I was the featured speaker on the ASSE’s Training and Communications practice specialty open call yesterday. They invited me to talk about social media and how it fits in with a safety professional’s career path and even daily life. No pressure – training a group of training professionals!!!

The recording of the open call is available on Vimeo by clicking here.

My goals for the call included presenting multiple social media platforms and how they can benefit a safety pro and how to use social media for advancing your career and keeping your training modern and fresh.

Before approaching any social media platform, it’s important to respect yourself and others online in a couple of ways:

  • Be cautious with social media interactions while on the clock.
  • Give others the same courtesy.

Social media is a great way to get in front of an audience. This is important for those who are full-time employed as well as for consultants like me. For the latter, a social media presence ensures that the industry and your peers know that you’re still involved in the industry and that you have relevant information to share. This can be straight up data and information or it can be sharing of your story.

To understand the story you have to tell, you may want to do some homework. At the 2016 Women in Safety Engineering (WISE) personal development retreat, we were able to discuss storytelling and safety with prolific author Pamela Slim. Ms. Slim wrote Body of Work, which I highly recommend to anyone who is getting serious about blogging and social media.

Speaking of blogging… I’ve categorized that as a macro platform. I use my company blog as my macro platform, for long-form blog posts and hosting media files like program templates, photos, and audio (yes, I’m trying my voice at podcasting!). From a macro platform, choose the social media or “micro platforms” that you want to use to get your information or story out to others.

My flow of information from macro to micro platforms goes like this:

  1. Develop content for blog: either written blog post or audio “podcast” file using voice notes feature of my cell phone.
  2. Host that content on my blog with a photo.
  3. Use auto-share feature of my blog to ensure each post goes directly to Google+ (this is for optimum Google search ranking).
  4. Customize a post for each micro platform natively:
    1. LinkedIn: I post directly from my profile, I no longer use the LinkedIn Publishing feature as the analytics didn’t point to any benefit.
    2. Twitter: I post directly from my account and tag other accounts as it makes sense either in the post itself (within 140 character limit) or tagging up to 10 other accounts on the image that accompanies the post.
    3. Facebook: I post as it makes sense in industry-related groups that I’m a part of as well as on my own business Facebook page that I just started a few weeks ago.
    4. Instagram: If my post is visual, I may use Instagram to get information out. Often, my safety-related Instagram posts are one-offs that do not link back to my blog – they’re just fun posts from the field. My most recent safety-related Instagram post was of a fire extinguisher with a funny sign!
    5. Snapchat: Please refer to my deep-dive on custom geofilters for more info on how I use Snapchat – I see this as a huge opportunity for large trade shows and events. Think of creating buzz and fun, less about getting information out.
    6. YouTube: I need to get back to this as a platform, but for now, I’m using it to curate lists of useful or funny safety training videos by industry/topic. When I use YouTube as a platform, there’s nothing technical – just me and my cell phone in selfie mode!

The list above is my preferred social media platform list for safety-related information.

If you are on any of these platforms and are looking for work or gigs, make sure to tune up your profile photo and bio. It’s OK to use a selfie, but make sure it still looks professional! My profile photo is from a family photo shoot a couple of years ago – the photographer was really smart and suggested a “mom head shot” that I could use for work. If you have holiday family photo sessions planned, I encourage you to do the same!

Network mindfully by evaluating who you follow or who you allow to follow you. My best advice is to put some thought into who you follow, but unfollow QUICKLY if you do not find value. If you don’t take this last step, you will have a trash timeline that does not provide value. This is why many people have abandoned LinkedIn or Twitter – they have not taken the time to curate their feed to ensure it’s what they want to see – it’s your own fault! Social media is a tool, it’s up to you to maintain it.

When using offbeat feeds for training information, make sure to verify the source. I often reach out to the people behind #safetyselfie posts or wild videos on Snapchat, Instagram, or YouTube to make sure of the validity of the posts before using them in training. You never know who you’ll meet!

So what’s next?

ASSE is launching a micro-learning initiative – this plays into our students’ diminishing attention spans. Watch how this goes and take lessons as they apply to your industry.

Alternate Reality and Virtual Reality are becoming more available – make sure you understand how these can be used as tools at your workplace. Do not adopt fun new stuff for the sake of having fun new stuff… get an advance copy or demo, use it, try it, and see if it would really work for your students!

Social media will continue to be a great way to keep your safety network close. In the three years that I have spoken at the ASSE’s annual conference, I have been able to expand my safety network and maintain the relationships via social media. Then when we are at the next national conference, we pick up where we left off!

Internet of Things and Voice Skills – Figure out what you already have in your office or workplace and start using the IoT features. If you have an Amazon Echo device, try out the Flash Briefing skill and other skills that can relate to safety and training. Look for my Flash Briefing skill soon!

No college – You will have personnel at your site or in your department who do not have a formal college education, but did you know that there are college courses available for free online right now? College may not matter as much in the near future as it has in the past. This does not mean that EDUCATION is not important, it’s just going to be different. Get ahead of the trend and offer solutions.

Questions or comments? I’ll see you on social media!

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