How to Increase Engagement with Your LinkedIn Posts

Do you ever wonder which people to mention in your LinkedIn posts to increase engagement through likes, comments and shares?

Here’s how to go beyond mentioning people who might be interested in your content, being more targeted in who may be most engaged.

Start by making a list of the people you’ve included in your article or your post.

(And if you haven’t included others, see how you can weave in a few people and credit their ideas. Why? That will broaden the group of people who may be interested in your content. Those who are included may want to share your content with their networks, extending its reach and impact.)

Next, look at your mutual connections. These display in the mobile app, in the Highlights section right under the person’s Summary. Choose some or all of your mutual connections to mention in your post, the area on the Home feed where you “share an article, photo, video or idea.”

This is a serendipitous discovery I made recently in my series of profiles on how professionals are boosting their careers through social media. The series began with photographer Jessica Sterling and will continue in the months ahead.

The mentions feature is currently available for posts, but not for articles on the LinkedIn publishing platform. So after I’ve published an article and shared a post about it, the next day I do a post on the article that mentions people. This calls attention to the article to people who might be interested in it and who might engage with it.

As I was doing this for a profile on YouTuber Angelica Kelly, I looked at our mutual connections. We had 78. The people we both know would logically seem to be the ones who might have the most interest in the profile. So I mentioned about half of our mutual connections, based on my assessment of each one.

And of that number, about 50% liked the article and 25% wrote a comment. All of the comments except for one came from people who were mentioned. It was exciting to see a community take shape in the comments.

This is something I look forward to experimenting with over time. As I do, I’ll share upcoming posts about trends and patterns in engagement with mutual connections. (Note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

Speaking of mutual connections, here’s another article I wrote about how to make the most of them. You can understand the broader social network, get to know a new colleague or client, and discover opportunities for collaboration.

And since social media is all about reciprocity, I’m making an effort to engage in the content of the people I’m mentioning. When I see their content in my home feed, I’m more likely to like, comment on or share it.

One caution is to not mention people too often and wear out your welcome. Once a week is probably the max, making sure the content is relevant and likely to be welcomed by the people you’re mentioning.

How have you tapped into mutual connections to engage people with your content?

Angelica Kelly Profile: If I Can Do It, You Can Too

“If I can do it, you can too.”

So says Angelica Kelly, the creative force behind the YouTube channel, You Brew Kombucha. Her 31 videos shot over a single summer weekend in 2017 have attracted 11,000 subscribers. All without advertising.

Why did she do it? How did she do it? And what is kombucha?

It’s “a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria.” And this sweetened tea is believed to have several health benefits, including boosting energy and immunity.

Angelica shared this with me one recent summer afternoon. We enjoyed a refreshing cup of cold green tea scented with jasmine she brought for our chat.

My first memory of Angelica is a Skype interview when she was a summer intern candidate at my employer (note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own).

She hit the ground running and never looked back. Her internship evolved into a full-time job as a corporate communications specialist. That led to a series of increasingly responsible roles. And she’s now a senior manager of internal communications at a new company.

Her Instagram posts started catching my eye over the last year. I wanted to learn more about her side gig. She was a fascinating candidate for my series of profiles on how professionals are boosting their careers through social media.

What I found was inspiration about learning, about experimenting and about exploring passions.

Here’s what Angelica shared …

Tell me about this tea we’re drinking.

It’s Chinese green tea, scented with jasmine. The cold brewing reduces the astringency. Good tea can be brewed over and over.

And all tea comes from essentially one plant – the camellia sinensis. I’m fascinated by how you can make so many teas from one plant.

Tea helps relax you and bring you back to nature. You’re literally just drinking a leaf.

How do you show up in social media?

There’s an unspoken belief that your work persona has to be different from your non-work persona. I believe they are one in the same. But people are multi-faceted, so there is a time and a place for certain topics.

Social media is all about using the available resources. You can share your knowledge and help others learn in social.

I’m on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and YouTube.

On Instagram I follow experts in fields of interest. I find them through hashtags and search. (BTW: her Instagram has the perfect summary: I strategize, I write, I read – for fun and for work. To recreate, I create. Check out one of my passion projects @youbrewkombucha on Insta + YouTube.)

My search process starts with books. Then I look online for the best sources of knowledge on the topic. I scour websites and blogs. I’ll follow my favorites’ social media handles and see who comments, who’s engaged and who’s asking or answering questions. And that’s how I connect to other learners.

On Facebook there are so many communities for niche groups. I’ve found home brewer groups for my kombucha research. There’s an interesting dynamic of knowledge sharing, and these are places to troubleshoot questions.

What else is unique about your research process?

It’s fun diving into a field where I feel out of my element. I read a lot of reference books. I borrow ebooks from the library through a great app called Libby, by OverDrive.

Learning is about allowing ourselves to be curious – to be fascinated by a topic. It’s important to be curious in all aspects of life and to go into things with a “beginner’s” mind.

Networking with people, asking questions and connecting with other enthusiasts and subject matter experts are all great ways to learn.

What are your LinkedIn rituals?

At the end of every year I take stock of the personal and professional. I consider what I’m grateful for and what I want to improve.

I use LinkedIn like a notepad and do an annual update after this reflection process. Everything professionally relevant goes into my LinkedIn profile. Accomplishments. Interests. Volunteering. Big projects that highlight transferable skills and new knowledge I’ve gained.

To understand what’s in the ecosystem, I follow and keep tabs on various companies. It’s also interesting to see how others see my company, through their comments and shares. As a communicator, understanding that external perception is crucial.

Why did you launch a YouTube channel?

This is my newest platform. As a viewer and consumer of content, I created the resource I wish existed for me. I couldn’t find a comprehensive YouTube channel on kombucha. I’m all about knowledge sharing, so I wanted to house everything I learned all in one place to make it easy for new learners.

My husband, Ryan, is a writer in the film industry. Together, we created three dozen videos over a weekend. He helped with planning the shoot, rigging the lighting, sequencing the segments and editing the footage.

Ryan understands the intricacies of video and where quality matters. For example, a mismatched quality of video and the heart of what I’m trying to convey could turn viewers off.

I’m a home brewer, not a professional expert. This is a passion project. So I wasn’t trying to make it look super polished. It has a low-budget feeling. It’s more realistic. It says “I’m one of you,” to my audience members, and that makes the topic more accessible.

In the process of shooting the videos I learned not to be camera shy. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not about you. It’s about your audience and what they can learn.

People told me I should release the videos in phases. But I wanted to be the most comprehensive kombucha home brewer resource. So I released all the videos at once. I didn’t want any of it to be incomplete in any way. They’re like a 101 entry-level college course.

To promote them, I posted in the Facebook home brewer groups. Some groups are open to sharing of self-created resources, and others aren’t. But I trusted the information was good and that people who wanted it would find it.

And they did. In under a year, my subscribers grew to more than 11,000. I’ve enjoyed engaging with a small but zealous community of followers – or “discerning enthusiasts” as I like to call them. (I consider myself a discerning enthusiast too). Many of them are in the United States, and some are from as far away as Brazil and Australia.

What are the “do’s” you observe in social?

Be authentic and genuine. That’s the first thing. Just make it; never fake it till you make it.

Give credit. If you repost, find the source and give credit. This is important because the reason people make things is to create joy or inspire some other feeling or reaction. They deserve credit for their work.

Focus on things I’m doing and people I’m with. Those are so much more interesting than too many photos of me.

Teach somebody something or give a new perspective on something.

Let social media spark personal connections. Share your enthusiasm with others. Let it be a catalyst that leads you to dinner or afternoon tea with an old friend or a colleague.

Be careful about negative topics. But don’t sugarcoat like everything is perfect.

How does empathy guide your social involvement?

You never know what state of mind people are in when you put stuff out into the world. And I think about my own state. Rather than using social media as a venting platform that could bring someone else down, I’ll reach out to a circle of friends to talk.

This is so personal and unique to what works for each individual, but if I’m feeling negative, I don’t share in social unless it can spark a constructive dialogue or inspire positive change.

What’s next for you?

My kombucha and tea research is evolving into a focus on Chinese pottery. I’m learning about how different glazes and clays affect tea brewing. And that has led to looking into ceramics classes. That may be the next big thing. It’s all part of my personal quest to be curious in all aspects of life!

Are you as energized by Angelica as I am? Want to learn more about her? Here’s how you can connect:

YT: You Brew Kombucha

IG: @angellykellyYou Brew Kombucha

FB: facebook.com/ange.c.kelly

LI: linkedin.com/in/angelicakelly/

Web: youbrewkombucha.com

Watch for more profiles coming soon. And if you’d like to be profiled, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

10 Ways to Boost Your Career through Social Media

If social media is all about reciprocity, so is learning.

That’s what I learned from a recent visit at a sales and service center.

I got great ideas about leadership and service, plus inspiration from and admiration for a group of pros who serve customers every day. (Note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own).

One of the things I love about my employer is the focus on employee resource groups, or ERGs. And I enjoy leading mentor circles with two of them – Women of AT&T and HACEMOS, the Hispanic and Latino group.

So when Shandria Alexander along with Norma Vega-Guadian from one of my mentor circles invited me to speak at their site during a career  development week, I was excited to do it.

Was I ever in for a surprise. If you want to make someone feel welcome, here’s how to do it.

Shandria and Norma met me outside the front door when I arrived, along with their leadership colleagues Louie Lewis and Joe Landazabal.

As soon as they opened the door, I was greeted by the leadership team singing, dancing and clapping. Team members took pictures and videos to capture the moments. A banner welcomed me.

And most amazingly, Shandria had my own bitmoji created as Social Media Woman!

It’s now in a visible spot for me every day, as an ever-present reminder that we all have super powers. We can all solve problems. We can all make our workplace better every day.

As we toured the site, the energy and enthusiasm of the team were palpable. The natural sunlight, the fun summer decor and the festive balloon awards for sales milestones make it an engaging place.

Next I met with participants in the company’s leadership development program. They shared their best customer experience tips.

  • One person focused on energy, standing up during calls and smiling broadly so his enthusiasm comes through to customers.
  • Another person talked about how he strives to bring positivity to the work environment so everyone can do their best work.
  • And yet another shared how her study of theater enables her to coach people to connect better with customers and their needs.

Next up was video time with Victor Rosales. He completed his degree in communications and public relations last year, and he’s putting it to great use.

In his recording and editing studio, he has perfectly positioned reminders on the walls to remind people to relax, breathe and have fun on camera.

Victor designed a true-or-false Q&A about social media for career building. And Shandria followed it up with some rapid-fire questions of her own.

The day wrapped up with lunch with the site’s leadership team. What an inspiring group of people. This is a team of people flying in formation, seamlessly passing the baton to each other and bringing their strengths together.

  • They talked about getting to know people – their families, their work and their fun – both employees and customers.
  • They talked about asking employees what they think and encouraging them to solve problems, rather than simply providing an answer.
  • They talked about accountability, and asking team members if the response they gave to solving a problem would be the same one they’d give in an interview. Great question!

With both groups, we talked about social media for career building.

For starters, why is this important? There are three big reasons, from my recent research

  • Building a professional network over time
  • Learning continually about your field, your company and your industry, and
  • Sharing your knowledge to become a thought leader.

Once you’re clear on the “why,” the “what” takes the form of 10 tips …

1. Follow your company’s social media policy. Make sure you read, understand and follow your company’s policy. Disclose your affiliation with the company. Don’t ever share confidential or propriety information.

A good practice is to keep your posts positive and upbeat. When in doubt about whether something is appropriate for sharing, ask someone such as your supervisor or a social media team member, or simply don’t post.

2. Decide what you want to be known for. Who do you want to be? What is your personal brand? Whether you actively define your personal brand and act in accordance with it or not, you have a brand.

Marketing strategist and author Dorie Clark has an easy way to find out what it is. Ask colleagues for three words that describe you, she advises. Look for patterns in their responses. Is that what you want to be known for? Or do you want to change it? This will help define your content areas of focus in social media.

3. Pick where to play. LinkedIn is the #1 place for professionals and is the nexus of your network. Twitter is for news, real-time events and thought leaderships in micro bursts — and the site I visited is establishing a terrific presence.

Instagram is on the rise for visual brand building. If you want to see people who are representing their professional lives well in Instagram, check out Sparkset App. Curated by Tiffany Frake, this account shows you amazing images of what people do in their careers.

4. Always be connecting. Your network is the community you build in social media. This is more important than ever. Why? Social media algorithms are always changing. Organic reach – the stuff you don’t pay for when you post – is declining. So having a community of committed people is important.

Start with the people in your contact list on your smartphone. Are you connected with all of them on LinkedIn? Following them on Twitter?

Whenever you send a LinkedIn invitation, always personalize it. That makes you more memorable and increases the likelihood your invitation will be accepted.

Scan your calendar each week and see if you’ll be meeting anyone new. You can visit their LinkedIn profile to get to know them in advance, and you can send them a personalized invitation to connect.

Did you join a new community group? How about a mentoring circle? Anytime you join a new group connect with the people in social.

5. Observe other’s content to see what works. Scroll through your LinkedIn home feed every day. See what content catches your eye and why. Look at the engagement – likes, comments and shares.

Many people are doing a great job documenting what they’re doing and what they’re working on (of course, only those things that can be shared publicly). Think about how you could document what you’re doing in the course of your day that would be interesting to your network.

Is a colleague getting an award? Is the team celebrating a win? Are you continuing your learning through courses or seminars? Those could all be topics to share.

6. Get to know leaders and colleagues. People you might not be able to spend a lot of time with are often accessible in social media. You can establish relationships by engaging with their content.

Go beyond liking it and post thoughtful comments. Build on their content by adding your point of view or asking a question. Share the content with your networks if it fits with the topics you focus on.

Just don’t go overboard and engage too much. Once a week is about right.

7. Mention and tag people. To expand the reach of content you post, @mention people who might be interested in it. That way, they’ll be notified of your post. They’re more likely to see it and engage with it.

Again, don’t go overboard and do this too much. One a week is about right.

8. Use hashtags. Use hashtags relevant to the content you post, so more people find it. At AT&T, we use #LifeatATT. And we use #ATTImpact when serving our communities. Your organization probably has its own hashtags.

And you can always create your own. My colleague John Stancliffe uses #KeepUpTheAwesome.

9. Analyze your analytics. Look at the analytics the various social platforms provide, to see which of your content is resonating the most with your network.

Beyond that, you can create and analyze your own data. I created a spreadsheet for deeper analysis of my weekly LinkedIn articles.

This led to discoveries about articles that got the most views and engagement. First, they answered important questions for people. Second, they combined personal knowledge and existing knowledge in new ways that only I could write about.

10. Experiment and learn. Try new things with your content. See how your network responds. Sometimes what you expect to get a lot of engagement WON’T, and vice versa.

For example, to test the data point that “it takes 20 LinkedIn posts every month to reach 60% of your audience,” I did an experiment. I posted content every weekday for a month to see what I’d learn. That post did well with almost 1,000 views.

Another time I was annoyed by immediate spam messages people sent me after I accepted their LinkedIn invitations.

So I started a list of “what not to do in LinkedIn.” Then I Googled the topic to see if I’d be covering new ground. It turns out, I wasn’t. So I wrote a different article. But I mentioned the “what not to do” piece I’d considered.

Jason Dunn left a comment and said he was interested in “what not to do.” So I posted it after all.

It’s my most viewed article to date, with 1,200 clicks. And I almost didn’t share it.

The lesson? Keep experimenting!

What Happens When You Share Expertise in LinkedIn Articles?

There’s only one you in the world. No one else has traveled your exact professional path, experienced identical situations or learned the same lessons.

Of the more than 560 million LinkedIn users and counting, only you can tell your unique professional story.

That’s the big takeaway from analyzing 49 articles I posted to LinkedIn starting in May 2017. The top articles were largely inspired by my personal experience:

If you aren’t already posting LinkedIn articles, here are some reasons to consider it. And if you’re already writing articles, this may help you up your game.

Just over a year ago, I started an experiment on LinkedIn. I posted to LinkedIn every weekday for a month. Why? To test the data point that it takes 20 LinkedIn posts each month to reach 60% of your audience.

In developing an editorial calendar, one of the easy ways to share content was to repurpose my blog posts at carolineleach.com. This solved another problem – promoting my posts. Repurposing posts as LinkedIn articles reached a broader audience among my LinkedIn network.

In analyzing the data over the past year and reflecting on my experience, here’s what I learned in the form of benefits from regular article writing. By writing an article weekly, as I did, or probably even monthly, you’re likely to:

Create a sustainable writing schedule. When I began writing articles a year ago, there was a healthy backlog of blog posts. It was simply a matter of organizing the topics in a logical flow, making minor content updates to ensure timeliness, posting the articles and sharing them with my network.

Once the backlog was done, though, a weekly article needed to be written. With a busy professional position and an active family with two teens, where was the time going to come from?

Here’s one of the ways having teens can be a blessing. They generally sleep in on the weekends. That’s why early mornings on the weekends became my writing time. And the weekly article was ready to repurpose on LinkedIn during the week when more people visit it.

Committing to a weekly article pushed me to create a sustainable writing schedule every week. If you’re a lark like me, or a night owl like my teens, you can take advantage of early mornings or late nights. Or you could turn part of your lunchtime or your public transport commute into writing times.

There’s an ideal intersection. It’s between areas when you can carve out time and when your brain is operating a high level of efficiency. Look for those times.

Grow your network. My articles that attracted the most engagement have been those where I’ve done experiments and collected and analyzed related data. That made me wonder how my network grew between May 2017 and June 2018.

LinkedIn has a handy feature where you can download all of your connections into an Excel spreadsheet. BTW, this is a good practice to do every 3 to 6 months, so you always have an up-to-date record of your contacts. You never know when you might need it!

While I thought my network had grown over the last year, it was surprising to see connections were up more than 60%! There are many reasons for this, and I believe my weekly articles are a big one. Why? Because people mention them in their connection requests.

While connections went from about 1,900 to 3,160, followers also grew from zero to 440 in the same time period. The combined group is just over 3,600. That data helped me set a stretch goal for this year of 5,000.

Establish yourself as an expert and increase your influence. By sharing your professional expertise and your unique perspective, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of focus.

How can you measure this? The growth in your network connections and followers gives you one indication.

You can also look at the trend of your profile views. How are they increasing over time? What’s the makeup of people looking at your profile? Is it the group you want to reach, whether it’s industry leaders, peers or recruiters?

You can also look at speaking requests. Because of my LinkedIn articles, I’ve been invited to speak to …

A highlight was joining the team of social influencers at the inaugural AT&T Business Summit in 2017. John Starkweather, Michelle Smith and I along with several others shared our experiences in LinkedIn articles. (Note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

What’s next? This spring I did research on how people are using social media to boost their careers. That identified several people who are doing it well. I’ve begun interviewing people who are crushing it in social media and will start sharing profiles of them soon.

The ascendence of AI, artificial intelligence, and AR, augmented reality, are fascinating in how they are influencing social media. These are areas I look forward to researching and conducting experiments.

The best part about reflecting on that last year? Seeing a holistic view that added up to significant progress. Without pausing to reflect, the feeling of moving forward wouldn’t be as strong.

And having a sense of forward momentum is what creates “the best inner work lives,” according to authors Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer. They studied and wrote about the importance of daily action toward meaningful goals in The Progress Principle.

How are you making regular progress in sharing your expertise with the world?

Boost Your Career through Social Media: Part 5

My research about how people are using social media to boost their careers asked about do’s and don’ts.

Here are 10 do’s and 5 don’ts. While some of the don’ts are the flip side of the do’s, the don’ts add more perspective and context.

One of the best survey comments was this: “A twist on the Golden Rule, if you will: I try not to share something that I wouldn’t want to read from someone else.”

That sums it up in a nutshell. Read on for how to put that take on the Golden Rule into practice. And thanks to the people who generously shared their thoughts that inform this list.

DO

Share good stuff. Share content that will help people in your networks be better in their work and their life. Good content can come from anywhere – your experiences, your reading, your network, your employee advocacy program, and so much more. Good content is good content, regardless of where it’s from, as I shared in Part 4 of this series.

Be positive. Keep it upbeat and friendly. Somewhat surprisingly, positive stories get shared more often than negative ones.

Be authentic. Be yourself. Share your experience. After all, no one is exactly like you. That is your strength and your opportunity.

Be reciprocal. Engage with content you like that’s aligned with your areas of focus. Ask questions. Post comments. Share relevant content with your networks.

Be social. Have conversations with people, just as you would in real life. Engage in dialogue, rather than making statements.

Be kind. Everyone is struggling with some kind of burden, whether you can see it on the outside our not. Act with kindness and compassion.

Post content that reflects well on you and your employer. What do you want your carefully curated network to see? What do you want your current or future boss and colleagues to see? What do you want your customers to see?

Consider these questions every time you share content. Ensure it will reflect well on you as well as your employer. You are a brand ambassador of your organization. Take that responsibility seriously. (Note: opinions shared in this blog are my own.)

Keep your social profiles updated. Spend a few minutes each month refreshing your profiles, especially LinkedIn. Did you complete an important project? Win an award? Get quoted in an article? Give a speech? Add it to your profile and include media and links.

Try new things. Keep experimenting. Observe how others are innovating. Try posting at different times than you normally do. Experiment with new forms of content, especially video. See what a new app can do for you.

Provide context for your reason for connecting with people. This will help people quickly understand why you want to connect. It’s why you should always personalize your LinkedIn invitations. You’ll stand out among the sea of unpersonalized invites. And you’ll forge a stronger relationship right from the beginning.

DON’T

Post too frequently. What is too frequently? Anything that makes the reader wonder how the poster has time to do their job. In general, one post a day in each of your social platforms is fine. Are there exceptions? Sure, a few examples are if it’s a big news day in your world or if you’re live tweeting an event.

Be too personal. What’s too personal? Pictures from a medical procedure. Posts about personal conversations with your significant other. Saying you don’t plan to be with your employer at your next service anniversary. Yes, I’ve seen people post all of these things.

Post political statements. There is no upside here, and there’s plenty of downside. Wharton professor Adam Grant recently shared that “when solving a problem with money on the line, people ignored the advice of experts with different political views, even though the task had nothing to do with politics.” Sharing your political views limits your audience and your influence. It’s best to keep political discussions among your family and friends.

Post anything that reflects poorly on you or your employer. This includes not sharing any confidential or proprietary information of your employer. Be sure to read all links you share, essentially looking before you link. Don’t share if there’s anything in the least bit disparaging about your employer or your industry.

Immediately spam new connections. Don’t. Do. This. Ever. Establish a relationship first over time, before you even think about pitching new business or asking for a meeting in someone’s busy schedule. Instead, take the time to understand what’s important to your new contact, and how you may be able to help.

Thanks to Tim Ferriss and Maria Popova, I no longer feel compelled to respond to every message. “Sometimes, the best ‘no’ is no reply,” Tim subtitled a section in his book, Tools of Titans. It’s about the “tactics, routines and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers.”

In interviewing BrainPickings.org founder Maria Popova, Tim shared these words of wisdom: “Why put in the effort to explain why it isn’t a fit, if they haven’t done the homework to determine if it is a fit?” she asks.

“Maria could spend all day replying to bad pitches with polite declines,” Tim notes. “I think of her policy often. Did the person take 10 minute to do their homework? Are they minding the details? If not, don’t encourage more incompetence by rewarding it.”

Indeed. Hear, hear!

What would you add to this list?

Boost Your Career through Social Media, Part 3

What did you share in social media in the last week? How did your network respond? What did your analytics look like?

In part 3 of this series of posts on social media research I did in March 2018, I’ll share the data relevant to those questions.

Part 1 in this series covered the survey goals, methodology, respondents, and professional and personal social media use.

Part 2 looked at the reasons why people are active in social media to boost their careers.

Part 3 in this series covers:

  1. What types of LinkedIn content get the most engagement
  2. What topics on LinkedIn get the most engagement, and
  3. Strategies to increase engagement with your social media content, regardless of the platform.

How is engagement defined? It’s likes, comments and shares of your content.

LinkedIn content types that get the most engagement

By far, Sharing an article was the type of LinkedIn content that gets the most engagement, with 68% of respondents choosing it.

In second place, half of that at 34% said Sharing a photo.

Tied for third place was Sharing an idea and Resharing content of others at 22%.

In last place was Sharing a video at 19%. This surprised me the most, given how popular video content has become. However, the addition of video has only come to LinkedIn in the last year, so it’s still relatively early days. I expect to see this percentage grow over time, as more people experiment with video content.

Some of the comments added great ideas to the mix:

“On the job photos, specifically of participation at a company event, with a company leader, or an interesting ‘behind the scenes’ moment.”

“Articles on industry thought leadership topics get read/liked/shared by my peers.”

“Content that congratulates or promotes and tags others in exemplary work.”

LinkedIn topics that get the most engagement

The topics in LinkedIn content that attract the most engagement are:

  1. Industry trends (48%)
  2. Leadership (34%)
  3. News about your employer (30%)

This confirms two of the top three reasons people are active in social media to boost their careers – accessing news about your industry and profession (81%) and learning continually about your industry and profession (77%).

Strategies to increase engagement with your content

Lastly, what are effective ways to increase engagement with your social media content, regardless of the platform?

Two strategies rose to the top:

  1. Tag people in the post, if they’re in an accompanying photo or video (75%)
  2. Mention relevant people in the post (65%)

Some of the comments offered up more ideas:

“Hashtags generate interest, especially from young professionals.”

“When people are authentic with their voice and message and thank (tag) the people who helped contribute to the project or idea get a lot of organic engagement.”

“Provide my point of view when sharing an article – not a headline, but instead an insightful suggest that might entice someone to read it. Ask a question.”

Two strategies that were only selected by 20% of respondents are actions that I have found valuable in increasing engagement.

First is to tag people in the post, even if they’re not in the accompanying photo or video. Why? This alerts them to content that may be of interest to them or their network.

The caveat here is not to overuse this strategy to the point that it becomes annoying to others. A way to decide? When someone you’ve tagged multiple times does not engage with your content.

A group of people who do a great job tagging people in posts are colleagues at my employer. (Note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own). Sarita Rao, John Starkweather, Sarah Groves, John Stancliffe, Eisaiah Engel, and Knox Keith are a few good examples. By tagging relevant people in their LinkedIn and Twitter content, they make sure that their content is seen by a wider audience.

Second is to sent separate, tailored messages to relevant people, alerting them of the post. This strategy I learned from others who sent me brief direct messages in LinkedIn to tell me about an article and why I might be interested in it. They did not specifically ask me to like, comment on, or share their content. But if I found value in the article, I engaged with it.

Many people commented that they don’t post frequently as a career-building strategy. One respondent said, “I have not built the confidence yet to post my own ideas in LinkedIn. I’m trying to figure out my voice before posting my ideas and also what I want to represent with my personal brand.”

An easy way to get started with content updates is by tapping into an employee advocacy program, if your employer offers one. These programs serve up ready-make, on-brand content that you can share as is in your social networks, or add your point of view.

The next post in this series will share how survey respondents are taking advantage of employee advocacy. How are you using it?

Boost Your Career through Social Media, Part 2

Why are people active on social media professionally?

This post answers that question, based on a survey I fielded in March 2018.

The main goal? To learn how fellow professionals are using social media to build their careers.

In this series of posts on the survey results, part 1 addressed the survey goals, methodology, respondents, and professional and personal social media use.

Now let’s turn to why people are active in social media to boost their careers.

Respondents could choose as many answers as applied, including an “other” option asking them to specify.

The top 3 reasons?

  1. Build a network (86%)
  2. Access news about your industry and profession (81%)
  3. Learn continually about your industry and profession (77%)

Lower down the list that I expected were:

  • Find a new job (47%)
  • Establish yourself as a thought leader (46%)
  • Raise your visibility among key decision makers at your employer (40%)
  • Position yourself for a promotion (11%)
  • Change careers (10%)

It surprised me that Establish yourself as a thought leader wasn’t higher than its spot as the #5 reason. Because social media offers such a significant opportunity to share content and establish thought leadership, I hope and expect to see this number grow in the future.

In fact, it could even be considered the flip side of Learn continually about  your industry and profession. In comments, many respondents wrote that they sought out and followed thought leaders for continual learning.

Here’s what a few said:

“I follow key leaders within my company on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as best-selling authors and speakers and influential business men and women to know what’s happening in our industry, but also learn career advice that will help anyone regardless of industry.”

“I read articles daily on LinkedIn to find out more about my industry and learn about other industries I’m interested in.”

“I follow several thought leaders on social media … and they help me expand my horizons and my thinking, hopefully to the benefit of my entire team!”

With so many people looking to social media to continually learn new information that’s relevant to their career and industry, that creates an opportunity for YOU.

How so? If you’re not already sharing your experience and expertise in social media, consider what you could share that would add value to others who are looking to learn.

Are there questions that colleagues often ask you that tap into your expertise? This could be a place to start in thinking about the types of content you could share.

And you can begin with small steps. LinkedIn is a great place. From your home feed, share an article, photo, video or idea. Or experiment with posting an article once a quarter during the calendar year. See how your network responds and adjust your approach. More content ideas are in my post about engaging topics for LinkedIn.

You can try to same thing with Twitter. Share an idea, an article or a video. Keep it simple by sharing your LinkedIn content in Twitter as well, tailoring it for the micro-blogging, shorter format on Twitter.

Be sure that any information you share is appropriate to be posted in public, in alignment with your organization’s social media guidelines. (Note: opinions express in this blog are my own.)

Other great learning strategies that respondents mentioned:

  1. Join LinkedIn groups of interest and be an active participant
  2. View Twitter trending topics
  3. Tap into YouTube for how-to videos
  4. Follow influencers, brands and trade publications
  5. Check out competitor company social media activity
  6. Search hashtags, even attending events virtually by following hashtags

It was exciting to see the focus on continual learning in the survey results.

Why?

My post on telling your career story in Instagram, cited a 2017 report by the Institute for the Future. It estimates that 85% of the jobs people will do in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.

That’s only 12 years away. Even if this estimate turns out to be much lower than 85%, there’s still a lot of learning we all need to do!

Speaking of learning, “a blog is a learning process,” says career blogger Penelope Trunk in her online course called Reach Your Goals by Blogging. “A blog is a document of how you’re becoming an expert.”

She also says, “you MUST learn something in each post. Write and write and write until something surprises you. The ending is your “a-ha” moment.”

My learning moments? My surprises?

First is discovering that the process of writing these posts about my survey is serving as an additional layer of analysis, beyond reading and thinking about the results. Writing about the results makes me think about them in new and different ways, perhaps because it’s more active.

This led to my second learning moment – connecting continual learning with thought leadership. In simply reading through the responses, I did not reach that conclusion. Yet it became clear that one was the flip side of the other, once I could see the words on screen in this post.

If you need a compelling reason to start establishing yourself as a thought leader, here it is …

People are seeking thought leaders, we all need to learn continually, and you have insights to share.

When you share them, you learn yourself, contribute to your network and start to establish yourself as an expert.

What will you share in the week ahead?

Boost Your Career through Social Media, Part 1

How are people using social media to build their careers?

There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence by simply observing the platforms – mainly LinkedIn and Twitter, followed by Facebook and Instagram.

But we live in a data-driven world, and numbers are important. So I ran a survey on the subject in March 2018.

As I tell my mentees in the USC Annenberg mentoring program, some of what I learned in grad school is surprisingly timeless in our fast-changing world.

“Uses of Communications Research” was one of those evergreen courses. My professor, Dr. Sheila Murphy, is with Annenberg today, exploring how message factors, individual level factors, and cultural level factors impact decision making.

One thing that has changed a lot is the functionality of Survey Monkey. It felt gamified in a fun way as I continued editing the survey until the platform gave it a perfect score. It also gave an estimated completion rate and time.

In my next several posts, I’ll share the survey results. This one covers survey goals, methodology, respondents, professional and personal use of social media, and a list of upcoming topics. (Note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

SURVEY GOALS

The main goal of the survey was to learn how fellow professionals are using social media to build their careers. Specifically, it addressed:

  1. What social media people use professionally and personally
  2. Why they are active on social media professionally
  3. How their social media activity has helped their career, others’ careers and their employer.

METHODOLOGY

The survey had 42 questions in 5 sections:

  1. Your professional and personal social media use
  2. Your approach to privacy
  3. How you use social media to build your career
  4. Your (open-ended) comments
  5. About you

RESPONDENTS

Here’s how people were invited to respond:

  1. Posts in this blog
  2. A LinkedIn article and follow-up posts for 3,200+ connections and followers
  3. A LinkedIn article on the USC Alumni Association page with 46,000 members
  4. Tweets, including a pinned one in March, for 2,100+ followers
  5. A Facebook post
  6. Emails to everyone in my personal email contact list
  7. Emails to the Forum-Group for senior-level communicators
  8. Emails to the USC Annenberg Alumni Advisory Board
  9. Emails to USC Annenberg Alumni Ambassadors

My original goal was to reach 500+ responses. It was humbling to put in so much work and hear from approximately 100 people. But for those respondents, I am extremely grateful. You know who you are, and thank you for being part of this initial experiment!

This is research I may do annually to view trends over time. And I may do a few shorter pulse surveys each quarter on a topic of interest. I’d love to hear from you if there are specific questions you want data on.

Nearly one quarter of the respondents provided their contact info for follow-up interviews. I’ll do those throughout the year and write posts about people who are using social media in innovative ways.

Data points on the respondents

76% are employed full time, 19% own a business, 11% run a side gig. Respondents could choose more than one answer

41% work in media and communications, 12% in marketing, and 8% in business and finance. The survey used occupation groups from the U.S. Department of Labor

24% are managers, 21% are directors, 17% are individual contributors, 16% are business owners, 8% are vice presidents, and 3% are C-Suite

56% have a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of education, and 33% have a master’s degree

45% are Gen X, 29% are Gen Y/Millennials, 18% are Boomers, and 3% are Gen Z/Centennials

59% are women, and 40% are men

In response to “how would you describe yourself?” 67% are white, 10% are Hispanic or Latino, 2% each are African American or Asian, 11% preferred not to answer, and 8% chose “other” and wrote a comment. My favorite ones? “Really? I’m a human,” and “You know this is becoming a trickier question to answer, right?” Yes, absolutely.

PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL SOCIAL MEDIA USE

For professional use, not surprisingly, LinkedIn was the #1 platform with 98% using it to build their careers. Twitter was a distant second at 47%. Facebook followed at 34% and Instagram was at 19%. YouTube was 12% and Snapchat was 2%.

Others mentioned in comments were Nextdoor, WordPress, Goodreads, Amazon Author Page, StumbleUpon and about.me.

For personal use, not surprisingly, Facebook was #1 at 88% on the network, followed by 75% on Instagram. Of note, the survey was fielded while the user data controversy news was beginning to be reported about Facebook, which also owns Instagram. As the story plays out, results might be different a few months or a year from now.

By comparison, Facebook is used by 68% of U.S. adults, according to Pew Research Center in February 2018. It also reported that 73% use YouTube, 35% use Instagram, 27% use Snapchat, and 25% use LinkedIn.

Many people blend the personal and professional in a single social media account on a platform – 38% for Twitter, 35% for Facebook and 22% for Instagram.

As far as maintaining separate accounts for professional and personal use on the same platform, 59% DON’T do that. For those who DO maintain separate accounts, 28% do for Facebook, 19% do for Twitter, and 17% do for Instagram.

While some respondents DO blend the professional and personal in social media, this data confirmed that LinkedIn and Twitter lead for professional use and Facebook and Instagram lead for personal use. Respondents also have higher social media usage rates than the general population.

UPCOMING TOPICS

Sharing the data from the survey will fill several upcoming posts. Those posts will then form the basis for a comprehensive report.

Here are the upcoming topics:

  • Why people are active in social media and how it’s helped their careers
  • How often people visit various sites and how often they post
  • What content gets the most engagement and how people increase engagement
  • The role and impact of employee advocacy programs
  • How people approach privacy

Plus some synthesis of several open-ended questions:

  • Do’s and don’ts in social media
  • Lifelong learning strategies in social media
  • Productivity with social media: boon or bane?
  • Using video in social media
  • Serendipitous moments in social media
  • Bad things that have happened and how people handled them
  • The next big thing in social media for career building
  • Who’s doing it well? Interview series with some of the survey respondents

What else do you want to know about how people are boosting their careers through social media?

How to Kill It in Social Media

When it comes to social media innovation, I’m inspired by many colleagues at my employer.

One of those groups is Marketing Communications in Business Marketing. The team’s VP, Sarita Rao (pictured above), gets her far-flung team together on a regular basis for “open mic” meetings.

Last fall I got to work with John Starkweather, Sarah Groves, John Stancliffe, Knox Keith and others as influencers during The Summit, a  ground-breaking inaugural event for the company’s business customers. Every day, I learn more about how to kill it in social media from this group.

So it was an honor when Sarah Groves invited me to do an open mic session at Sarita’s team meeting this month in Dallas at the company’s headquarters.

Here’s what Sarah asked and how the dialogue took shape.

How did you get started using social?

A few years ago, my colleagues and I launched a social business platform, to enable people to collaborate and work in new ways.

Just a few of the key contributors were Michael Ambrozewicz, Thyda Nhek Vanhook, Frank Palase, Brian Ulm, Miriam SmithJohn Cloyd and Alan Lewis.

We did a pilot program before launch. Not surprisingly, there was the to-be-expected resistance to chance.

I launched a blog, for two reasons. One was to role model behaviors that fellow leaders and employees could follow. Another was to learn how to do it so I could advise our CEO and others on how to reach a broad audience through blogging.

Over time I discovered I enjoyed the process of learning through blogging, sharing that journey, and connecting with people throughout the company.

Three years later, I started my external blog at carolineleach.com. A few years after that, I began repurposing my blog content as weekly LinkedIn articles, in order to reach a broader audience.

One thing that’s important about blogging and any social media activity is to know and follow your company’s social media policies.

Generally, that will mean not sharing any information that is confidential or private, and making it clear that the opinions you express are your own and not the company’s. (Note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own).

When in doubt about the wisdom of sharing specific content, err on the conservative side and leave it out.

How do you fit social into your life? How much time do you spend on it?

It’s ideal to have a social media plan, and make social part of every day. Gary Vaynerchuk advocates simply documenting what you’re doing, rather than attempting to create all kinds of content.

Depending what goals you want to accomplish in social media, you can spent as little or as much time as your calendar and your lifestyle can accommodate.

My week in social looks like this:

Weekend blog post on carolineleach.com (this is easy to do when you have teens at home who sleep in, as I do, which gives me quiet mornings to write)

Wednesday LinkedIn article, repurposed from my blog and set up on Tuesday evening to post the following day

Daily scroll through LinkedIn home feed, liking, commenting on and sharing relevant content by people in my network and for people in my network

One tweet a day, plus looking at trending news in the morning and afternoon

A daily look at my employer’s Social Circle employee advocacy app to check for content I might want to share in my social networks

A few posts during the week on LinkedIn, as well as on Instagram, which is generally more personal in nature. Now I’m intrigued by and researching how people are using Instagram in their professional lives.

Some of this activity can be combined with other activities. For example …

If I’m waiting in line at the company cafeteria, I’ll scroll through my LinkedIn feed and maybe I’ll retweet something I see in Twitter

When I attend an event, I share pictures of speakers along with their best soundbites, or I share pictures or videos of other attendees

When I’m catching up with reading over the weekend, I share relevant articles in Twitter and LinkedIn.

What’s your recommendation for getting started?

Begin with your LinkedIn profile. Complete every field, until LinkedIn identifies your profile as “All-Star.” You’ll see “All-Star” noted in the upper right of the dashboard section of your profile, which only you can see.

You don’t have to complete your profile all at once. You can set aside time each week to work on one section at a time. Start from the top and work down, addressing these areas:

Your LinkedIn profile is ever evolving, as you and your career grow and change. Target adding something new to your profile every month, whether it’s a link to a company news release that relates to a project you worked on or an article sharing your expertise and thought leadership.

How do you see social playing a role for all employees driving engagement and advocacy for the company going forward?

Everyone can be a brand ambassador in social media. In addition to building your own career and championing the achievements of your colleagues, you can share the great news about your employer.

In the process, you can also get to know people in your company and beyond that it might otherwise be hard to meet.

If you have an employee advocacy program at your company, that’s an easy way to get started with on-target content. You can always customize it a bit with your personal take on the news and information, tailoring it for your networks.

Don’t forget to include the relevant hashtags for you and/or your employer, to maximize the reach of your content.

 

How do you know what you want to be known for?

You can ask yourself a few questions, to identify one or two subject areas you want to be known for in social media and in real life.

  1. What topics are important for success in your current role?
  2. What topics will be important for success in your likely future role?
  3. What topics are you naturally drawn to and interested in?

 

Here’s an example from my own career journey. This blog began in 2015 as an exploration of the future of corporate communications as a corporate vice president of that function.

When my employer was acquired later that year, I had the opportunity to move into marketing analytics. My blog then pivoted to learning more about that field. What then became paramount for me was learning how to learn quickly, which I explored in this blog.

As I searched for the topic I most wanted to explore, I was inspired by hearing Reese Witherspoon talk at a Fullscreen Media event in 2016.

She was asked about how she’s been super successful in social media. And she talked about social media content creation for people as being a big white space that’s not fully being filled right now.

That prompted a lightbulb moment for me. My blog then evolved into exploring how people are using social media to build their careers. And here we are today.

What blogs do you read?

This question made me realize I’ve migrated from reading blogs over to listening to podcasts. So I reacquainted myself with the folder of favorite blogs on my iPhone …

My favorite podcasts are an eclectic mix …

The Daily from The New York Times and Michael Barbaro every weekday morning to dip into a timely topic in the news.

The Science of Social Media, every Monday from Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis from Buffer. It’s “a weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation and inspiration.”

Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson.

Hidden Brain by Shankar Vedantum.

The Tim Ferris Show

If you have other podcasts to recommend, please leave me a comment. I’m always looking for new ideas to explore through podcasts.

And on that note, how are you killing it in social media?

How to Be Your Best You through Personal Branding

The best part of a day of service? It usually turns into a day of learning and inspiration.

Students from Southern California high schools got an introduction to the power of personal branding at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism this weekend.

It was part of a broader USC Alumni Day of SCervice. Members of the Trojan family around the world came together to make a difference in their local communities.

At Annenberg, students and alums came together for mini professional development and mentoring sessions with students. The focus was on helping them build their personal brands.

What inspired me the most as an alum was the number of students who have already started their own businesses. They shared savvy social media tips for how they market their businesses.

An Instagram influencer with a large following shared what she learned from working with various brands and how to maintain her authenticity with her followers.

A provider of babysitting services talked about marketing her business on Facebook, because that’s where her mother’s friends, her potential clients, are on social media.

A maker of children’s toys talked about his plans to scale his business more broadly, and how he’s reached people through social media.

Annenberg’s Leticia Lozoya and Jaime Carias designed the delightful day, bringing together 40 alums and 40 students from partner high schools throughout the Los Angeles area.

Al Naipo on Personal & Professional Branding

Veteran news reporter Al Naipo kicked off the morning’s speakers. After many years with FOX 11 news, he launched his own business and he led communications for County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. He’s now the Chief Administrative Officer at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission.

Al focused on sharing how to maintain professionalism with your personal brand when you’re in the spotlight – whether it’s politics, business, education or any arena of life.

He started by sharing a newsroom phenomenon – a large display listing reporters’ social media followings, and how everyone ranks compared with their colleagues as well as competitor newsrooms. A social media presence is critical for journalists to be effective today. By extension, the same could be said for all professionals.

Al told several compelling stories, including how career opportunities had come to him based on the power of his LinkedIn profile. Here are a few of Al’s nuggets of wisdom:

  1. Your social media presence could be a make-or-break reason to get a job
  2. Everything you do has to do with branding and how you’re seen by others
  3. People view your work life and your personal life as all one thing
  4. Stick with your brand, because people associate it with you
  5. Social media is a powerful way to connect directly with almost anyone

Ashley Tesoriero on the Power of Your Personal Story

A national marketing specialist at IMT, Ashley Tesoriero told the group the secrets to sharing your personal story, even if you see yourself as a more private person. She emphasized the importance of tying your personal and professional life together make one.

According to Ashley, your personal brand is, “your online and in-person resume you present to the world.”

She encouraged everyone to figure out what their story is, and what medium(s) best capture it. For her, it’s Instagram, LinkedIn and  her WordPress website.

How do you get to your story? It starts with reflection on your mission, vision and values. Ashley led the students through an exercise to begin thinking about these big-picture questions of what they want their lives to be about.

The group outlined their personal experiences – complete with challenges, opportunities and who they are in their communities – in order to establish their personal brands.

Emma Forbes on the Power of a Personal Brand

Students got to practice their “one-minute me” pitches during the lively closing session with Emma Forbes. She’s a radio and television presenter from the United Kingdom, and the parent of a current Annenberg student.

Emma told compelling stories of her own career journey to help students shape and package their personal stories to launch their personal brands and be a positive influence in a social media world.

When pitching a “one-minute me,” Emma said not to read a list of qualifications. Instead, she advised, “talk about where you come from, where you’re going, and what you’d like to do.”

She called these the defining moments that happen in a face-to-face setting a pivotal moments in everyone’s careers. “You need to be the face of your brand,” she said. “No one can sell it better than you. Be you and speak your view.”

What do you do when nerves get the best of you?

  • Start with deep breathing
  • Make eye contact
  • Pause instead of saying “um”
  • Clasp your hands front of you

“You need nerves,” according to Emma.

Then the emotional, electrifying moment arrived.

She asked what would have happened, “if I wasn’t nervous about meeting you today?”

If someone so accomplished, so authentic and so poised felt nervous about speaking to students and alums, then there is hope for all of us.

Bring on the nerves!