Part of the beauty of social media is that it is freeform. You can post a tweet about cute cats one day, and follow it up with some serious 140-character commentary about the Iraq war the next.

However, if you’re intending to use your social media accounts in a way that makes you look like an appealing hire post-graduation, you may want to avoid this option. An account that exposes all possible facets of your personality is only going to be of interest to people who know you personally–if that’s your kettle of fish, rock on, but this is for people who want to appear more knowledgeable than their industry competition. This is about creating a social media narrative.

I’ve gone into this to some extent in my columns on context-specific posts and unified profile pictures, but today we’re looking specifically at how to craft your content into something approaching a narrative about who you, in your social media form, are. It sounds difficult, but with a little bit of monthly planning it really doesn’t have to be.

Decide what you’re talking about: If you’re trying to get a job by using social media, this will most likely just be whatever industry you’re looking in to. Decide the general subject area, and–if necessary–decide what makes your take on it unique. If you’re an anthropology major, maybe focus your tweets on one specific subset of anthropology, like digital studies or youth. If you blog about gaming, become an expert on a specific platform. Merlin Mann has a great quote (paraphrased) about this as an approach: don’t blog about Star Wars, blog about wookies. Even better, blog about one specific wookie. Become the internet expert on that wookie.

Decide who you’re talking to: Are you looking to network with your peers to build up a community of friends in your industry, or are you trying to communicate with more established members of your field? The tone and subject of your social media should change appropriately. For example, on the @HackCollege account, we’re talking to our readers–as a result, there’s a lot of references to beer. This is not true of the individual accounts of most of the contributors, who are trying to network as writers.

Map it out: This is the main part of how you’re going to craft a narrative, once you know who you’re talking about and what about. Think of a theme for your week/month (for Twitter and other shortforms, you’re going to be looking at the week, and for blogs you’re going to be operating on a two week cycle). Think of the big thing you’re going to comment on or be showing off–your paper that you’re presenting, or a major news story, or some industry event–and put it on a calendar. That will be your major post. As a lead up to it, pull in related content, like another researcher’s look at the same material, or a personal anecdote about why that issue is important to you. Plan that post/tweet/GPost before the major one. If you’re in a short form medium, you’ll be peppering before and after with related links to other peoples’ work, and if you’re in a long form medium you’ll probably be doing a once-a-week roundup post.

Schedule: The lead-up/analysis post structure I just described gives you a way to do either a week’s worth of posts on a two-post-a-week blog, or a half-week’s worth of tweets. You should be cycling through that structure each week or so, so that most of your recent content relates to the arc. All of the content, no matter what story arc it appears in, should relate to your theme from step one–as a result, you’ll essentially be producing chapters or sections of content in a unified body of work. The key to this making sense is to space everything in a reasonable order and time frame–the smaller blocks of content unite the larger work.

Do you have another social media tip? Share it in the comments!