‘Tis the season for social media trends for the coming year.
For what’s ahead in 2019, I read several articles. Expecting to see a preponderance of tech-related trends – such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and new platforms – I was surprised to conclude that the biggest trend is decidedly non-technical.
But let’s start at the beginning, with some of what I read and the three key trends I took away from it. My perspective on trends has to do with how they will help you grow your career and/or your company in the year ahead.
Worth a read or a listen on your own are the following:
From those sources and more, here are my three big takeaways for 2019 trends.
First, video continues its explosive growth. By 2021, video traffic is forecasted to be 81% of all traffic on the Internet. This is according to Cisco, in the 7 Marketing Trends for 2019.
The article has great stats on how Google searches more and more are including video. So not only is video a great way to make your content more discoverable, it’s increasingly the way people prefer to consume information.
Keep it short, under 30 seconds or so. Shoot vertical video. Experiment with documenting the non-proprietary parts of your work days to see what resonates the most with your networks.
Second, Instagram Stories are a must. Related to the ongoing video trend, Stories are “now growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing” in Instagram, according to Hootsuite’s Top 5 Social Media Trends. In the next year, Stories will “surpass feeds as the primary way people share things.”
If you’re not yet using Stories to showcase what you’re doing in your work life, this is the year to experiment. Going to a conference? Giving a talk? Delivering on a big (non-proprietary) project? Volunteering in the community? These and many more are perfect for sharing in Stories.
To get started, begin viewing stories from others to see what resonates with you. Approach Stories with a learning mindset and have some fun by experimenting with the various features. Here’s a great guide from Hubspot to getting started with Stories and making them like a pro.
Third, social media success is all about quality content. Whether the form is videos, images or words, nearly every trend piece I read emphasized the importance of quality content. That gives you a multitude of opportunities to grow your career through social media this year.
Everything you do could lend itself to creating great content through short posts, articles, links, photos or videos. At the start of the year, look at what’s ahead month by month and start creating a high-level content calendar. Of course, as always, don’t post proprietary or competitively sensitive information.
Content planning is the key advice from Sunny Lenarduzzi, one of the experts featured in The Science of Social Media podcast. She says, “if you wait to the last minute or ignore creating a content calendar for the month, your content will suffer because you’re rushing everything.”
It’s also important to take time to get to know your audience and what’s important to them. In the same podcast, Donna Moritz from Socially Sorted was featured as advising to, “focus on creating quality, core content on a platform that you own (your blog/website, podcast or video) that helps solve your audience’s biggest challenges.”
Also highlighted, as Gary Vaynerchuk said in a recent interview, “My show and my social accounts are not a platform from which I talk about what’s important to me. It’s a platform from which I talk about what’s important to you.”
Ultimately, high-quality content is critical to your success because “it will help you show up on Google and it will help your posts show up and get more engagement on social media sites,” according to Bill Widmer in the Sumo marketing trends article.
The most important element of this content focus is that it’s something you can control. Your discipline in sharing content on a consistent basis with a point of view that adds value to your connections is what it’s all about.
No one else has experienced the work world in quite the same way as you have. No one else has the unique perspective that you do. Sharing your original content that adds values to the people in your network is the most important thing you can do in social media.
What trends are you focused on in the coming year?
In taking your journey toward them, do you want a fun way of getting there?
Here’s an idea. Choose a theme word for your year.
What’s that? It’s a single word you pick to characterize the kind of year you want to have.
While there’s a lot going on the world that is beyond each of our individual control, there’s one area of life where we have complete control. And that’s ourselves. Our thoughts. Our decisions about how to choose to show up in the world. Our choices about how to respond to adversity or to good fortune.
Our thoughts and feelings are powerful forces. A theme word can help focus and channel them toward action to achieve our deepest desires.
As I shared at the beginning of another new year, a theme for your year can help you in four ways.
First is MOTIVATION. A theme is a personal rallying cry you can apply to everything you do, in social media and in real life. It can give you the motivation to take small steps toward your goals, day after day. Big things happen through small, consistent actions.
Second is FOCUS. A theme is a continual reminder of what’s important to you. And what’s not. It helps you decide in an instant if you’re spending your time in the most important ways to you — and with the people who are important in your life.
Third is INTEGRATION. A theme brings everything in your life together, both professional and personal. Your actions support and build on each other in an integrated way. It’s a powerful form of working smarter, not harder.
Fourth is MEANING. A theme gives purpose and meaning to every action you take. Your reason for choosing your theme gives you the “why” of your goals and actions. That makes you more likely to continue working toward them and ultimately achieving them.
When I wrote about theme words in two previous years, I was impressed and inspired by the words people shared with me as their own theme words. Opportunity. Strength. Momentum. Inspire. Feedback. Stretch. Courageous. Development. Fancy. Growth. And so many more.
2019 is my ninth year of having an annual theme. The first year, in 2011, was motivated by struggling with feelings of burnout after a particularly intense work project. The work was a success, but my life wasn’t.
So I embarked on a path of thinning out my commitments on my calendar, my clutter in my home and office, and even myself with better nutrition and exercise. That is how THINNING became my theme word.
Last year my theme was BUZZING. That requires a bit of explanation. The full story is in my post about 2018. But the quick story is that standout marketer and entrepreneur Seth Godin writing about about “buzzer management” inspired me.
Seth started the quiz team at his high school. But as he wrote, it “took me 30 years to figure out the secret of getting in ahead of others who also knew the answer (because the right answer is no good if someone else gets the buzz): You need to press the buzzer before you know the answer.”
He went on to say that once you buzz in, the answer will come to you. And even if it doesn’t, the penalty is small. He says “buzzing makes your work better, helps you dig deeper, and inspires you. The act of buzzing leads to leaping, and leaping leads to great work.”
I’m here to tell you that he was right. By picking buzzing as my theme last year, I spoke up and spoke out more often than I had in the past. I said things before I was fully ready. Of course, being a balanced risk taker, I backed up my buzzing with planning and acting and building a foundation in the direction I wanted to go.
And how did things turn out?
I’m happy to say I launched my own business, long a dream of mine, called The Carrelle Company. It grew out of this blog, a side gig I kicked off on New Year’s Day 2015. I’ve been observing and researching and writing about how people build their careers and companies through social media. Now I’m writing, consulting, speaking, and teaching about that as my new career.
One of the newer rituals I added this year was inspired by Danielle LaPorte, a soulful author, speaker, and entrepreneur. Her belief is that by being clear on our feelings, we can design our lives around taking actions that lead to feeling the way we want to feel most of the time.
At first this concept was a bit challenging for me. On the Myers-Briggs personality spectrum, I’m on the “thinking” rather than the “feeling” side, meaning that I prefer logic to emotion. Yet I yearned to feel differently than I did.
So I dipped into Danielle’s workbook to identify what she calls “core desired feelings.” After reflecting on I was grateful for and what wasn’t working, I eventually landed on five words that are my core desired feelings.
One of them is “creative.” Its definition of “originality of thought,” along with “inspired” and “visionary,” really spoke to my soul. Given that writing, blogging, consulting, speaking, and teaching all rest on a fountain of creativity, I was drawn to it as a core feeling.
As I thought about the most important thing for the coming year, it’s being as creative as I possibly can. That led naturally to my theme word for the year: CREATING.
One step at a time, I’m creating my new business. I’m writing a series of books on what successful people do in social media. I’m developing social media plans for clients. I’m preparing for several speaking engagements. And I’m designing a social media class to teach in the spring.
I look forward to sharing much of this creativity with you through my blog and my books.
Every day, I’ll be focused on creating.
How about you? What theme word will inspire and integrate your year?
Ah, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It’s the last one of the year. A time to spend with family and friends. A time to reflect on the past and its lessons. A time to plan for the future.
And a time to take a few actions to close out your social media strategy for the year and get it ready for the coming year. Here are six strategies for what could become an annual ritual. You don’t have to do them all. Just pick and choose what speaks to you the most.
Reflect on your accomplishments and update your social media. A former colleague Angelica Kelly is the inspiration for this one. Every year she says she “takes stock of the personal and professional, considering what I’m grateful for and what I want to improve.”
She uses LinkedIn “like a notepad” to do an annual update after her reflection process. She puts everything professionally relevant in her LinkedIn profile. This includes accomplishments, interests, volunteering, and big projects that highlight her transferrable skills and new knowledge she’s gained.
If you did a year-end performance assessment as part of your job, you can easily flow those updates into your LinkedIn profile. You could also look at your Twitter, Instagram and other profiles to see if anything should be refreshed.
Assess your social media activity against your goals. Did you want to ramp up your engagement with any particular social platform? Share more content relevant to your professional interests? Build your network and connect with a diverse group of people?
See how you did against any social goals you set at the beginning of the year. One of my big goals was to conduct social media research to understand in a data-focused way how professionals are using social media to build their careers. It was a big learning experience and something I plan to do annually.
Another goal was to start consulting with people on how to boost their careers in social media. I worked with a few people pro bono in the first half of the year to develop and refine my approach. You know who you are, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity.
This was invaluable when I my business The Carrelle Company was born on Labor Day. One of the most pleasant surprises was that my blogging and LinkedIn article writing generated a group of people interested in working with me.
Show your network some professional love. Take time to scroll through people’s content. By commenting on great content, you can easily connect with members of your network. That keeps you top of mind with people you care about, whether it’s for them to seek professional advice from you or consider you as a job candidate.
Think about who’s not in your social networks who should be. Sure, look at the algorithms to see who pops up. But also think about the projects you’ve worked on and the organizations you’ve been active in. There may be some people you should connect with. Or maybe there are some aspirational connections you’d like to make with people you want to get to know better.
Share your #bestnine2018 from Instagram if they are professional in nature. These could be your actual best performing posts of the year, or you could choose your favorite nine. Post them anytime up through New Year’s Eve, and share them in other networks like Twitter and LinkedIn.
Here are some tips from Dawn Geske writing for the International Business Times on how to do it. Also, scroll through the posts of others for ideas on content and captioning. Leave comments on ones that speak to you the most strongly. It’s a great opportunity to touch members of your network and share year-end greetings.
Listen, watch and read up on 2019 social media trends. Check out what experts are saying about what the new year will hold for social media, so you can up your own game for your career.
My main takeaway? Always focus on your audience and what’s in it for them.
In an upcoming post, I’ll do a roundup of the top trends for the coming year.
Consider a theme for the new year to guide your social efforts. Every year since 2011 I’ve had a theme word for my life, and that includes how I choose to show up in social media. Because I launched a new business in 2018, my theme word will have a lot to do with that.
Watch for more to come in an upcoming post about theme words. It will cover why they’re so powerful and how you could think about choosing a word that unifies and focuses all you do in the new year.
How else do you take stock of your year in social and get ready to shine brighter in a new one?
When you’re trying to write a blog post that people will love, sometimes you can’t fit everything into the ideal length of 600 to 800 words. What can you do? Break it into a series of shorter posts.
Part 1 of this topic covered themes, points of view, headlines, opening words, and the ideal length. Here’s part 2 covering creating visual interest, engaging others, weaving in data and research, ending strong, editing your post, and reading other blogs for ideas and inspiration.
Make it visually interesting
Include photos, videos and/or infographics to make your post eye catching. You can also spice up your text by using subheads, bullets, numbered lists and white space. My rule is to keep paragraphs at four lines or less to make them reader friendly.
Use formatting options in platforms like LinkedIn to draw attention to call-out quotes by way of bold italics. You can also sprinkle images and/or videos throughout your post for visual interest.
Consider how you can weave others into your post. If you can quote someone or highlight a best practice that they do, this rounds out your post with a variety of perspectives. This provides supporting points for your overall message.
It also potentially increases interest in and engagement with your post. The people you’ve included may be inclined to comment on and share your post. You can also mention them as you promote your post in various social networks, so they’re sure to know you’ve included them.
Bring in the data
Cite interesting facts and research in your post, and link to them. This anchors your post in data and supports your key points.
Influencer Neil Patel, for example, cited research that “marketers who blog consistently will acquire 126% more leads than those who do not.” If that data point doesn’t convince you of the value of blogging, I don’t know what will.
Be sure you’ve read the full link and are comfortable with its contents before linking to it. Why? Because every bit of content you create, like, or link to reflects on you and your professional image.
Your ending is almost as important as your lead. Here you want to spur your reader into action. What will they do differently as a result of reading your post? How have they accomplished what you talk about in your post? What questions do they have and will they leave a comment?
I almost didn’t write my post about 7 Things Not to Do in LinkedIn. At the time, I didn’t think I’d be adding anything new to the existing body of knowledge. But I wrote it because someone left a comment asking for it. And it became one of my most-read pieces.
That’s my moment of surprise. Sometimes the topic that doesn’t seem exciting to you will be of great interest to your network. If you look at the analytics of all your posts, you may find your own surprises to inform your upcoming posts.
What other ways do you write posts that people will love?
Blogging is a powerful way to share your expertise and establish yourself as a thought leader. My blog, as an example, has led to speaking invitations, consulting projects, publication opportunities and more.
What does it take to write a great blog post?
Here are tips to write a post that people will love. Sometimes the hardest part is getting over the fear. But what makes your post stand out comes in the editing process. During the writing process, the most important thing is to simply get the words down.
You may need to silence your inner critic until you do that. Just suspend that self-critical voice until you have a first draft completed. Write continuously for a set period of time, such as 60 minutes.
Set your draft aside and come back to it, ideally a day later and at least an hour later. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised that your first draft is much better than you expected.
It enables you to share your hard-won expertise, establishing you as a person with a valuable point of view. As a result, interesting career opportunities may come your way.
Here’s how to get started.
Have a theme
This is about having a strategy for what you blog about. By focusing in one area, you will be better able to build up a devoted readership over time. Be clear on why you’re writing and who you want to reach. Once you have your topic identified, you can relate almost anything to that subject.
It’s okay for your focus to evolve as your career does. My blog began as an exploration of the future of corporate communications. When my job changed after a corporate acquisition, I wrote about marketing analytics for a short time. Ultimately that wasn’t something I wanted to spend hours of my weekend and evening time on, so then I explored how people learn.
After that I had a serendipitous moment at a leadership conference. Reese Witherspoon, the entrepreneur, producer and actor, talked about the white space in social media to work with people on building their reputations.
It was my “a-ha” moment. I knew what I wanted to focus on – writing, consulting and speaking about what successful people do in social media to boost their careers.
Share your point of view
People read blogs to learn, to be entertained and to be surprised by a new twist. Think about the point of view you can bring to your topic. You don’t have to be an expert to start blogging about it. If you’re fascinated by it and dedicated to learning in the process, you can bring value to your audience.
Your point of view is why people will read your posts. No one else except for you has had your unique experience in the work world. What you’ve learned and experienced along the way can be helpful to others.
Come up with a compelling headline
You could write the best blog post in the world, but if no one reads it, your light and your ideas haven’t truly reached the world. As I learned by experimenting, it’s important to devote almost as much time to creating a compelling headline as you do to writing the overall post.
There are headline analyzers such as CoSchedule that can help you improve your headlines to attract more readers. It’s almost a gamified approach, if you keep entering headlines to increase your score. Try to write 25 headlines for every blog post. Then pick the best one.
Of course, your headline has to be true to your subject. No clickbait for you. Deliver to your readers what your headline promises.
Focus on the first few words
The first first words and sentences have to pique your readers’ interest from the start. There’s no time to warm up and get to the point. Spend as much time on your lead as you do on your headline. What are the opening words and sentences that will grab a reader’s interest?
Those first few lines show up now for LinkedIn articles in your profile. Carefully consider what you want your first 30 words to say.
Get the length right
About 600 to 800 words is ideal. This is approximately the length of a newspaper op-ed article. It’s okay, though, to go shorter or longer if your topic warrants it. For something really long, you can break it into a series, as I did for my bio posts and my research on social media.
Since this post has hit that limit, watch for the remaining tips in a part 2 post coming soon.
At this point in my career, I hope no one would be interested in my GRE or GMAT scores, even if I could remember what they were. I’m still struggling to learn Spanish. And I’m not anticipating a patent any time soon. So test scores, languages and patents are off the table.
My LinkedIn profile was missing this important aspect of my work. In updating it, I discovered some tips that may be helpful to you in determining the best ways to share your own speeches.
A bit of research led me to a decision point between Publications and Projects.
I already had one project, Social Media for Innovation with Michael Ambrozewicz, Thyda Nhek Vanhook and Gerry Ledford. It was a series of case studies and innovation experiments on engaging employees and customers through social media. It was clearly not a speech. So there would be some cognitive dissonance to overcome in including speeches alongside this project.
That’s where the dictionary came in handy.
A publication according to Dictionary.com is “(1) the act of publishing a book, periodical, map, piece of music, engraving or the like; (2) the act of bringing before the public; announcement.”
And publish means to “(1) issue for sale or distribution to the public; (2) issue publicly the work of; (3) submit online, as to a message board or blog; (4) announce formally or officially; (5) make publicly or generally known.”
The sense of bringing something before the public felt analogous to giving a speech and sharing information publicly.
How about a project? It’s “(1) something that is contemplated, devised or planned; (2) a large or major undertaking, especially one involving considerable money, personnel or equipment; (3) a specific task of investigation, especially in scholarship.”
In a stretch, a speech could be considered a project. But to me it feels more like a publication.
And the information fields for both areas in LinkedIn are very similar. One minor difference is a Publication lists an author or authors, and a Project lists a creator or creators. Also, the Project entry lets you identify which specific job or educational degree the work is associated with.
Ultimately it’s up to you which area to choose. The good news is you have options. And perhaps a future LinkedIn update will add a “Presentations” or “Speeches” section to Accomplishments, making this a moot point.
What’s a good way of choosing which speaking engagements to include in your profile? In my case, there were three criteria.
Could it be shared publicly, i.e., was it not confidential or sensitive?
How relevant was it to my current and future work?
I’ve also been approached about giving a TEDx talk in spring 2019, speaking to professional associations, and talking about personal branding for women. The invitations often result from my presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media.
If you want to speak more to develop your career and your reputation as a thought leader in your field, consider adding your speeches to your LinkedIn profile and sharing your expertise through articles and posts.
You may be pleasantly surprised that you’ll be invited to talk about those subjects to audiences you care about.
Where do you share your speeches and talks in your LinkedIn profile?
In 2018, Sprout Social says the best time is on Wednesdays between 3 and 5 pm. Tuesdays through Thursdays are ideal, with the least engagement coming from Fridays through Mondays. That makes sense, given the cycle of the work week.
Co-Schedule aggregated several studies and concluded midweek from 5 – 6 pm, 7:30 to 8:30 am and at 12 pm. Essentially, it’s ideal to post before and after “regular” work hours (if there is such a thing anymore), in addition to lunchtime when people may be taking breaks.
Today and in the coming weeks I’ll test the Wednesday afternoon data with my own articles. Generally I post an article every Wednesday. Rather than posting in the morning, though, I’ll try the 3 – 5 pm window in Pacific Time, my local time zone.
I’ll post right at 3 pm since some of my network is in earlier U.S. time zones. Fascinating fact: almost 80% of the U.S. population lives in the Eastern and Central time zones.
My LinkedIn articles are based on my blog on how people use social media to build their careers and their companies. Sharing my blog post content on LinkedIn has been a valuable way of reaching a broader audience that is likely to find value in the content.
Wednesdays weren’t a data-driven decision in the beginning. Most of my blog post writing was on weekend mornings. My teens were sleeping in, and I had quiet time for writing. Wednesday became my reposting day on LinkedIn simply to give myself a few days to get it posted.
In the process, I began collecting and analyzing my own data. With my Excel spreadsheet of 18 months of posting an article roughly every week, I went back through my data to see if my experience aligns with the industry studies.
One of the questions when I shared my data six months ago was from a former colleague, Sarah Groves. She was curious about the ideal day of week and time of day to share LinkedIn content. At the time, there wasn’t a clear cut answer in the data, meaning that any weekday was fine. As I’ve collected more data, I’m curious if anything had changed.
Looking at my top 20 articles for views, likes, comments and shares, a few data points jumped out.
First, 60% of them were posted on Wednesday. But the highest scoring article was posted on Tuesday. And all days of the week were represented.
Third, 80% of the top 10 were posted in 2018 vs. 2017. They’re reaching a broader audience probably because my network has grown by 1,000 people.
What are the takeaways from this?
The quality of the content matters more than the day and time it’s posted. It’s ideal to focus on offering your network your best thinking in your articles. Write about the expertise and perspective that is unique to you that would be valuable to your network. Then to make sure it has the best chance of reaching the broadest audience, post it on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
Headlines matter. You can write the best article in the world, but if the headline doesn’t pique people’s interest in clicking on the link, you won’t reach a broad audience. Write several headlines for every article. See how they score in a headline analyzer. It’s almost a gamified approach to headline writing, because you can keep entering headlines to try to get a higher score.
The size and quality of your network is important. Keep building a high-quality network of connections on LinkedIn. Connect with people you meet and want to meet. Be sure to personalize your invitations to strengthen your relationship. By increasing your connections and followers, your content will reach a broader audience, which is likely to increase engagement.
It’s wise to experiment with different days and times. All the data in the world is meaningless if it doesn’t improve your unique situation. You can try posting on different days and times of the week, and track the views, likes, comments and shares from your articles. What trends do you see over time? What are the patterns in your top articles? How might the engagement be affected by the local time zones of your audience?
What day and time for posting LinkedIn articles has gotten the most engagement for you?
That’s how I started my remarks at my corporate farewell event exactly one month ago today.
As is my writing practice, I thought about what I wanted to say, who I wanted to thank, and how I hoped people would feel. I gave myself the speechwriting assignment and let my subconscious go to work on it. I find that ideas pop up while I’m doing other things.
Except with everyone else going on, it wasn’t quite done by the time the event arrived. Usually I like to ideate, write, iterate, memorize and then speak without notes. That didn’t happen this time.
This next part is for my colleagues who have told me I always seem prepared and poised. You may get a zing of delight to know that I was still writing my remarks in my Evernote app while my husband Kevin was driving us to the event.
So of course I couldn’t memorize it. And in the spirit of keeping it short, I left out a lot of what I wanted to say. So I’m sharing it here, for my friends and colleagues who were there, and for many others who aren’t in Southern California and couldn’t be there.
My daughter was 11 months old when I came to work at DIRECTV as a communications manager.
In my interview, Jeff Torkelson said, “It’s really busy here. Do you think you can handle it?”
Those words haunted me at the end of my first week. Everyone was running around with their hair on fire. No one seemed to leave at the end of the day. It didn’t seem like anyone else had a baby at home. I realized I’d made a big mistake in taking the job.
But I couldn’t quit after a week. So I decided I would commit to a year. After that I would find a new job.
But then I found ways to succeed in the environment, like doing thinking and writing projects in the early mornings. And without my even asking, my male and female bosses offered me the ability to work from home one day a week when I returned to work after my son was born.
So much opportunity grabbed me. And it didn’t let go.
A transitional time like this reminds me of wise words from great leaders.
Eddy Hartenstein, the charismatic pioneer who founded DIRECTV and the father of modern-day satellite television, said upon leaving the company many years earlier that “we are victors, not victims.”
I remember Eddy coming to my office to practice his talk before his farewell event. My colleague Tina Morefield and I listened and tried not to shed tears. I still get chills thinking about it.
Mike White, another legendary leader at DIRECTV, often said that “sometimes you need to replant yourself.” He is a model of ongoing reinvention and lifelong learning. He’s a super-smart English major who became a CEO.
After 30 years in the corporate world (!), it was time for me to replant myself. It felt like being in my 20s again, graduating from UCLA and wondering what to do with the rest of my life. So I began to look back over the years for clues.
When I was 5 years old, I loved to read and write. My uncle gave me what used to be known as a typewriter (younger readers can Google it). I’d type up stories, letters and calendars. Anything, really.
My grandmother and my mother encouraged my writing (along with my parents requiring that I take math and science every year in high school). My dad suggested I study English in college. But I wondered what kind of a career I could have. How would I become financially independent? If only I’d known then about where Mike White’s career journey would lead.
So I studied economics. And I ultimately found corporate communications, at the intersection of business and writing. It fits perfectly with my Strong Interest Inventory profile of artistic, social and enterprising interests.
Julia Cameron who wrote The Artist’s Way might have called it a shadow career. Because I really wanted to be a writer. But I didn’t know how to do it and live the life that I wanted.
That’s probably why I started an internal blog at DIRECTV in 2012 when my team launched a social collaboration website. And I started this blog on New Year’s Day 2015 to explore the future of corporate communications. I had a lot of support and encouragement from my boss at the time, Joe Bosch, our chief human resources officer.
Now writing is the foundation of what I’m doing as an emerging entrepreneur. I’m writing, consulting, speaking and teaching about how professionals can grow their careers and business owners can grow their companies through social media.
With that said, the time with my colleagues in the corporate world was anything but a shadow career.
That’s because of all the incredible things we did together. There were so many challenging projects. But we brought everyone’s talents together, worked as a team and made it happen, again and again. It was fun and rewarding along the way.
At our first-ever dealer conference called Dealer Revolution, I remember dancing the night away in what was then the Texas Stadium after Kerin Lau and her events team made the 2,000-person event happen. We got to meet Rod Stewart before he performed that night. When it came time to take photos, I hoped I wouldn’t be taller than him. I wasn’t disappointed.
Anthony Martini joined us when many of the installation and service technician companies were insourced. Out of nothing, he built the corporate communications infrastructure. And working with Carlos Botero, those communications helped create a workforce so engaged that Willis Towers Watson wrote a case study on it.
But that didn’t happen so I had to conquer my fears and move forward. I launched an internal blog so I could learn and model what it was like to try new things, look silly in the process and learn from everyone in the community.
Then it came time for the corporate campus to be upgraded. It meant new ways of working in open and collaborative space. There was a lot of hand wringing. Fellow members of the Campus Launch Advisory Board will remember. In the end, Paul James and Hilary Hatch did an incredible job and Tyler Jacobson communicated it to perfection, with great counsel from Reza Ahmadi.
When we got the news that AT&T was going to acquire DIRECTV, it was the thrill of a lifetime to be part of the integration team led by Jennifer Cho at DIRECTV and Jeff McElfresh at AT&T. What seemed at first like having a front-row seat to a Harvard Business Review case study was actually like getting an MBA in real time.
Through it all, I was passionate about advancing women at the company through mentoring circles and employee resource groups. What a thrill when Dan York brought the Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis to speak at the company not once, but three times. She is doing incredible work to bring gender parity to television and film roles. And Phil Goswitz was able to have Gywnne Shotwell, COO of SpaceX, come and speak to our women’s resource group.
I’m beyond proud of the inclusive advertising being produced by Val Vargas, Sarita Rao, Sandra Howard and many others at the company. They are all role models that I hope many others in the industry will follow.
And whenever I didn’t know what to do or needed to brush off criticism, I got the best advice from my husband Kevin. Borrowed from the film Madagascar, he’d always say, “Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.”
There are so many more incredible memories and people (like my most recent team members Stephen Santiago and Sabrina McKnight). It’s been an honor to work with all of you. I learned so much from you. We’ll always be connected by the DIRECTV and AT&T family.
Things came full circle last week when I heard from Tina Quinn, who was my coach over the last year. She recommended Steven Pressfield’s book, The Artist’s Journey.
It picks up where Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey leave off. Early in my corporate career I read about the hero’s journey. It articulates the timeless sequence of events for nearly every story, novel or film.
“The artist’s journey comes after the hero’s journey,” Pressfield says in his book about the lifelong pursuit of meaning. “Everything that has happened to us up to this point is rehearsal for us to act, now, as our true self and to find and speak in our true voice.”
There is a rich personal history that I draw upon now. It’s in no small part thanks to the people I spent the last few decades working with.
You have each inspired me in your own way. I am profoundly grateful.
So my question to you is, are you doing what you really want to do?Where is your artist’s journey leading you?
“Look, talent comes everywhere, but having something to say and a way to say it so that people listen to it, that’s a whole other bag … there’s one reason we’re supposed to be here is to say something so people want to hear.”
So said the tragic character Jackson Maine, played by Bradley Cooper in the magnificent 2018 take on the timeless story in the film A Star is Born.
These words spoke to me because of what many people have essentially expressed in one way or another as we talk about building their professional reputations in social media. That’s the focus of my blog and my new business.
The theme, the pattern, the refrain … is fear. Fear of doing the wrong thing. Fear of looking silly. Fear of not mattering.
But let me start at the beginning. Needing to replenish my own creative well, I went to an early screening of the movie before it officially opens. I was loosely riffing on author and screenwriter Julia Cameron‘s concept of an artist date.
While I’m religious about Cameron’s practice of morning pages – three pages of longhand writing first thing every morning as a way of clearing the mind’s cobwebs, solving knotty problems and setting the stage for the day – I’m not as dedicated to artist dates.
An artist date is an hour you take by yourself every week to do something that brings you joy. It could be walking through a park, visiting an art supply store, or going to a museum. It could be anything really.
The point is to spend time filling yourself up with new and different experiences. Cameron calls it “restocking the well.” Then you have more to give through your art, whatever form that takes … as a writer, a painter, a singer, a professional, a parent or any role you play in life where you creatively express yourself in some way.
Because I’m so goal oriented, an artist date is tough for me. I don’t always feel like I’m accomplishing something important. I’m not checking something off my never-ending list of things to do.
Yet launching a new business, while over-the-top exciting, also leaves me feeling depleted at moments. Significant creative task after creative task starts to take its toll.
I have to remind myself why people say Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s not possible to do everything at once, as much as I want it all to be done … yesterday. I need some balance. Some new perspective. Some fresh ideas.
So I went to the movies with my husband. And some of the character’s lines crystallized and organized the patterns of what I’d been hearing from several different people. Yes, it’s true that there’s nothing new under the sun, but this powerful film brought a fresh take to a story for the ages.
And it’s really the story of all of our lives. Why are we here? What are we doing? And what do we have to say?
So here’s what I have to say about pushing beyond the fear of doing or saying the wrong thing in social media as you build a career or a company.
Keep your heart in the right place. It’s hard to do something bad or wrong if you truly have good intentions. If you’re coming at social media from the perspective of generosity – sharing what you know and what you believe with the goal of improving people’s lives in some way – you’re on the right track.
If you jump into social media with a spirit of reciprocity, engaging with others in a positive way, you’re not likely to make a misstep. And if for some reason you do, you can listen to feedback and continue a respectful dialogue.
Consider how people might perceive what you have to say. Could it inadvertently cause pain? Could it be misread? Heather Rim, a chief communications and marketing officer, said it well in a recent profile: “Be sure the content of a post can stand alone without being misinterpreted.”
If you have second thoughts after you share something – if you view it in new ways that others might see it – you can always edit it. I’ve done that on occasion with some of my blog posts. After the fact, I realized something I said could possibly be misconstrued. That’s easily changed and updated.
Experiment and try new things. Social media algorithms and functionality are changing all the time. So are we as human beings and as works in progress. Sometimes the social media content we think is our best doesn’t resonate with people the way we hoped. Other times, content we think is just okay becomes among our most popular. The important things are what can be learned from it and what can be done differently the next time.
To experiment freely and effectively, sometimes you have to silence your inner critic. A former colleague Val Vargas shared a brilliant strategy for this in a speech she gave to an employee resource group earlier this year. She said to give your critical inner voice a name, ideally an unflattering one. And tell her to be quiet.
Going back to the opening words by the character Jackson Maine, they reminded me of one of my great bosses over the years. I had the privilege of working with Joe Bosch, a consummate chief human resources officer, for five incredible years. His coaching advice to me was often to be more deliberate about sharing my point of view.
That’s why I enjoy blogging so much. More easily than in a face-to-face meeting, I can shape and fine tune my point of view before I share it with people. Real-time feedback comes in the form of comments and conversations. And I can continue to edit and evolve as life does and I do.
Heather Rim builds great teams to do amazing things.
But we might never know it if she wasn’t such a pro in sharing her professional journey in social media.
Heather is chief marketing and communications officer at AECOM, a global infrastructure firm based in Los Angeles. The $18.2-billion company has appeared on Fortune’s list of Most Admired Companies for the last four years.
Heather’s path began to cross with mine a few years ago through professional associations like the Forum-Group for senior-level communicators.
And we’re both proud alums of the master’s program in communications management at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Heather is a natural for my series of profiles on how professionals are using social media to build and boost their careers.
We talked recently at AECOM’s Century City headquarters, with views of the many projects the firm helped create.
Here’s what she shared …
How do you think about personal branding in social media?
Your brand is one. You have one reputation to build and protect. When you’re on social, you can’t compartmentalize. While I’m a fan of using a mix of platforms to tell your story, it’s important to remember that it all ladders up to the brand that is you.
I also think that for communicators and marketers, your personal brand trumps your resume. We’re expected to maximize social to build brands for our employers and clients, and it’s important that we demonstrate our ability to do that by how we show up online.
What’s your personal brand?
I lead teams to disrupt the status-quo and build transformational brands.
At my core, I’m a builder. Every job throughout my career has involved reimagining what’s possible, and building a powerhouse team to make that happen.
I lead an incredible global communications and marketing organization at AECOM that includes corporate brand and reputation management, public and media relations, thought leadership, employee communications and engagement initiatives, crisis and issues management, social media and digital communications, CSR and strategic marketing.
When my daughter was born 10 years ago and my son after that, I joined Facebook because I wanted to keep our family connected as our kids were growing up. For me, Facebook is personal. It’s for family and friends.
As I’ve made career moves over the years, it’s been fun to see how former bosses soon switch from LinkedIn connections to Facebook friends.
Tell me about your themes in social media.
Each platform has a theme for me. Facebook is largely family life. Instagram is for my favorite pastimes and personal interests. LinkedIn is for professional activity.
I’m most active on Twitter, where I am a brand ambassador for AECOM and advocate to end homelessness in Los Angeles through my work as Board President of the Downtown Women’s Center.
As chairman of the IW Group, Bill enables organizations to connect effectively with multicultural and cross-generational consumers, business owners and entrepreneurs. He’s a fellow board member at the USC Center for Public Relations.
We had a focus group with a handful of company leaders and a few dozen Millennials. In talking with these students about social media, it was clear that they were less interested in what they might read about me on LinkedIn – a site they viewed as a perfectly curated resume – and more interested in “who I really am.”
They asked why I wasn’t on Instagram, and my response at the time was, “it’s too personal.” And then a lightbulb went off. Personal is what matters to them.
Soon after, I reluctantly took the leap and jumped into Instagram.
I initially struggled with what to post, and then decided I would create a virtual scrap book of the experiences that bring me joy (outside of my family and career). Everything from the adventures I’m blessed to take, to the excitement of a fabulous pair of shoes or a delicious glass of wine.
People in my industry have started following me, along with the students who prompted my start. One of my most popular posts was one I almost didn’t do. My friend Dawn Soler, @the40plusgirl on Instagram and EVP of Music at ABC Television, got me involved in the #WokeUpThisWay challenge. It was a calling to keep it real in social media – filter and makeup free.
It wasn’t something I was initially eager to participate in. In fact, the thought of a filter-free morning selfie made me cringe. But I did it for my daughter, to show her that beauty comes from within. And I’m glad I did.
Posting a few times a week is easy. It’s become a natural part of my life. And I enjoy Instagram as a source of inspiration and nourishment for the soul. It’s also my version of scrolling through a fun magazine.
Why is Twitter ideal for events?
Events can be so powerful. Live tweeting at an event is my way of sharing the action, documenting the experience and taking notes. It’s also a great tool to make connections, as you become a go-to source for the content shared, and associate your personal brand with that subject.
I’ve found that people appreciate it when you tweet a powerful soundbite they said and amplify it with a great photo. That almost always gets retweets.
I work hard to earn followers by sharing the best content I can. When I’m reading, I’ll often tweet a quote, much like I would at an event or conference.
How do you show up on LinkedIn?
For me, LinkedIn is about leadership. I share about business events I’ve attended as well as my volunteer work at the Downtown Women’s Center. As a result of my activity, I’ve been invited to give presentations and speeches.
The downside of LinkedIn is when people try to use it in an urgent way. You have to invest in your network over time. A sales pitch or job application isn’t effective when you haven’t established a relationship over time.
What “do’s” do you follow for social?
Be authentic. I strive to be true to myself and share the real me.
Be sure the content of a post can stand alone without being misinterpreted. Everything you say is open for interpretation. I put a lot of thought into my tweets and posts.
Be comfortable with the content appearing anywhere. Assume that anything you publish will one day surface for all to see, and share accordingly.
Be true to your brand. Everything I share relates back to my personal brand statement in some way.
Keep connecting. Follow-up right away (while the interaction is still fresh) with a connection on the appropriate platform. Be sure to add a brief note.
How often should professionals interact with others in social?
Think about how the world works offline. How many times would you pop into someone’s workspace to say hi? Let that guide how often you engage with people in social through their content.
Want to learn more about Heather? Start with her Instagram and check out all the rest …