Conversation vs content: what’s the difference?

Previously, you saw that some online platforms are particularly useful for professional networking and others better at content hosting or sharing.

Image of Facebook or Twitter user on a mobile phone.

But what do we mean by those terms, and how can they be used to enhance your online professional presence?

Content

Content can be created by companies or individuals, and could include:

  • Text
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Photos
  • Images
  • Graphics
  • Animations

Getting content and its presentation right for an intended audience is something authors, editors and creators need to think carefully about. But for now, let’s narrow the definition of content to things we want to show a professional audience about ourselves.

This could include:

  • things you’ve done (experiences, training, achievements)
  • things you’ve created (projects, designs, inventions)
  • things you have (knowledge, skills, abilities), as well as
  • who you are (what you enjoy, what has influenced you, and biodata if relevant).

Which platforms are best for sharing your professional content?

Instagram

Instagram is perhaps best known as an image-led platform, but it also now contains videos and can be used for different kinds of visual storytelling, which may be useful for certain professionals.

Artists, makers, chefs, travel companies and designers can use Instagram to highlight their products or processes, but all sorts of businesses use the platform to tell stories about themselves and reveal how they connect to the world and their users.

There are many ways to use Instagram’s photos, hashtags, captions and filters to share content which is engaging and draws people closer to the business and its activities, from behind-the-scenes peeks at life at a small business (or big TV production) to a daily glimpse of the activities of a local dog walker or hairdresser.

If you don’t have any of this type of content to share or your photography skills aren’t up to scratch, you can simply use Instagram for sharing punchy graphic and text tips or inspirational quotes, as a way of communicating what you’re passionate about and who you are.

LinkedIn and Twitter

Other platforms like LinkedIn (for professional profile information) and Twitter (for opinions, news and ideas) also allow you to present certain kinds of content well. However, these accounts are only as effective as the community or connections you build. Without nurturing these, your brilliant content will go unseen.

Personal website or blog

Your own simple professional site (which may or may not include a blog) is an ideal place for showcasing content which you want to share with the professional world. However, you will need to work extra hard to drive traffic and attention to it, as without that your efforts could well be wasted.

Conversation

All of this brings us to the other important aspect of building an online professional presence: connection or conversation.

In this context, we use connection to mean:

  • networking, making contacts
  • following and being followed by others (known or unknown)
  • interacting with people within a particular space in vocal ways and otherwise.

Engaging with and following others, whether directly (on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn) or around content or topics that are of mutual interest (such as on Facebook and Instagram, though also possible on Twitter and LinkedIn) is what drives usage, putting the social into social media.

Interacting around content (eg commenting on a photo or video post on Instagram/Facebook, or replying to a tweet/using a hashtag on Twitter or LinkedIn) makes the commenter more visible: it increases exposure to people who might otherwise not have come across them. Others can click on the user’s name to find out more about them, and may decide to connect with them to see more.

That’s why the most important advice for those who want to be more visible on social networks is: participate more. Not just in building your own profile and adding your own content, but actively pursuing conversation and connection with others on the same platform.

Three suggested actions are:

  • Follow people who seem interesting or who have experiences you’d like to know more about.
  • Comment on other people’s content and reply to comments on your own content.
  • Use appropriate keywords or topic/event hashtags to appear in searches for those terms.

The more you are seen, the more your content will be visible, and the greater your chances of being recognised for your experience, skills, or potential.

In summary, all social media sites contain elements of both content and connections. However, while content sites can be an excellent way to show your talents in a professional context, without also using the connection and interactivity capabilities of a site, you’ll be missing out on wider opportunities to raise and enhance your professional profile.

Share your experience:

How do you engage with content or conversation? Which appeals to you more, and why?
Share your experiences with other learners in the Comments.

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This article is from the free online course:

Create a Professional Online Presence

University of Leeds