How Social Media Will Change for Professionals in 2017

It’s a new year. A fresh start. How will you revitalize your social media strategy?

You can start by thinking about how social media will change in the coming year.

No one knows for sure what will happen, but here are some interesting trends from personal branding expert William Arruda.

And at a macro level, Bryan Kramer has a roundup of  2017 predictions in social media and content marketing. This includes one of the best in personal branding, Dorie Clark.

As a communications and marketing professional in the corporate world, I think the following changes will have the biggest impact in the year ahead.

(This is where I remind readers that opinions are my own).

Life is lived on stage. Every day when you leave your house, you’re in the public eye. You could be photographed, recorded, tagged, tweeted and snapped, all without your express permission or even your knowledge.

The upside to all this? It’s one more incentive to live a high-integrity life. To do the right thing. To make the world a better place.

In the words from the film Ocean’s Eleven, “there’s always someone watching.” Make sure you’re presenting yourself as who you authentically are and how you want to be seen.

It’s not even clear how long our own homes will be a sanctuary from the public sphere. On Thanksgiving day in my leafy town, I spotted a drone in a nearby yard. It made me rethink my window coverings.

It also made me think about feedback. I used to work with a chief marketing officer who was a fantastic speaker. He owned the stage. And he always wanted to improve. After a big speech, he’d ask me for the video so he could critique his performance.

That’s a wise move for every professional. Take some time each month to evaluate how you’re coming across in video, in pictures and in words.

When I’m giving a big speech, I record my practice sessions on my phone. That has two benefits.

The first is a way to improve my actual delivery by assessing how I look and sound.

The second is a way to memorize the speech in advance, so I can deliver it in a more natural way.

How? By listening to the recording while I’m driving and when I’m about to go to sleep (a proven method for studying and remembering information).

Images trump words. As a word lover, it pains me to write that images are more powerful than words. But it’s true. Even my iPhone keypad is suggesting emojis in place of certain words.

Every social post needs an image. Research shows that articles with images get 94% more views.

Wherever I go, I take pictures on my iPhone. I may not use them right away, but I’m building a library of images for the future.

On New Year’s Day, for example, I wanted to share a personal picture.

The year before, my family attended the Tournament of Roses Parade (with reservations about the early hour and the relatively cold weather, by Southern California standards).

The perception of frostbite aside, my camera roll was filled with pictures of beautiful, colorful floats. A photo of South Dakota’s float of Mount Rushmore caught my eye. Four great presidents. In a month when our country will inaugurate a new leader. There was my timely and timeless image.

In addition to using my own photos, I subscribe to a few image sites, iStock and Canva. They’re well worth the investment, because they make content more eye-catching and professional.

Video trumps stills. For as much as photos are better than words, they’re starting to seem almost as dated as mere words. It’s the moving image that captures the eye. From Facebook Live to Periscope to over-the-top video, the moving image reigns supreme.

This will be an area of experimentation for me in 2017. I’ll start with a few short videos in my Instagram feed. I’ll try Facebook Live. And maybe I’ll turn some of my blog posts into videos. That idea that jumped out at me in Gary Vaynerchuk‘s Udemy course on building a personal brand.

Snap isn’t just for teens. Now that Snapchat is just simply Snap, it’s unavoidable in the news and the cultural zeitgeist. It’s how my teenage daughter and I enjoy spending time together, checking out her snap streaks and laughing over the funny moments she and her friends capture of every day life.

I’m still figuring out the basics, like how to take a decent picture that won’t be obscured in all the wrong places by the filter du jour. It feels like having all thumbs, like I did when I first joined Twitter and I hadn’t fully figured out why I was there yet. More to come on this topic as this learning project takes shape.

Professionals need a plan. With so many ways to share your professional expertise, ideas and achievements, a plan is essential.

It starts with setting goals. What do you want to accomplish? What social media networks should you be on? What are good ways to curate and create content?

From there, you need a calendar. I’ve been searching for a ready-made one, unsuccessfully so far. Right now I’m using an Excel spreadsheet. As this evolves into something better, I’ll share updates in future posts.

Right now, it’s organized by date, broken into weeks and months. For content ideas, I look at upcoming:

  • Blog posts on social savvy for professionals
  • Work news and events
  • Conferences and training sessions
  • Speaking engagements
  • Hashtag holidays
  • Personal milestones

For each piece of content, the calendar includes:

  • Posting date and time
  • Content headline
  • Content summary
  • Content type (e.g., blog post, photo or video with caption, etc.)
  • Category (professional, personal or a mix)
  • Creative (photo or video)
  • Channel (which social network or networks)
  • Hashtags (especially for Instagram and Twitter)
  • Status (whether in development, posted or in the comments stage).

What changes are you making in your social media strategy this year?

What’s Driving the Future of PR and Communications

What does the future hold for PR and communications? Check out the Relevance Report.

New from the USC Center for Public Relations this month, it’s full of innovative ideas on what’s ahead.

Global. Mobile. Video. Data. Emotion. These are just a few of the trend areas accelerating in the year ahead.

The biggest learning for me? It’s the parallel and seemingly paradoxical rise of data and emotion as drivers of influence. Data drives better decision making, while emotion is a prime influencer of people’s opinions and behaviors.

Find out more in my latest blog post on the USC Annenberg Alumni website.

It’s about what you’ll learn in this insightful report, with nuggets of wisdom from Annenberg’s Bob Feldman and Heather Rim as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman.

The post is part of being a proud Annenberg Alumni Ambassador this school year. It’s a thrill to share the best of this distinguished school for communication and journalism.

The Relevance Report gives timely insight into trends that will impact society, business and communications. It features thought pieces from communications leaders who identify the issues, ideas and innovations that will be relevant to the communications industry in 2017.

The Social Media Side of a Networking Event

It’s the holiday season. That means year-end networking events.

They always seem like a good idea when the invitation arrives, don’t they?

Yet when the appointed hour comes, I often regret my affirmative RSVP.

Except I didn’t this month when I dragged myself away from a compelling work project at 6:30 one evening and made myself go to the event I said I would attend.

It was a professional networking event of my son’s high school, for alums and parents to get to know each other and share ideas.

To honor my commitment, I intended to stay for 30 minutes. But happily and unexpectedly, that extended into a fun-filled 90 minutes.

Why? As I reflected on it, there are a few ways to make the most of a networking event.

In particular, think about the social savvy aspect, or social media element, of the people you meet and the conversations you have.

  • Have a goal or two. Why are you attending? What do you want to accomplish? For me, I wanted to meet local professionals related to my son’s school to feel more connected to the school and the local community. I wanted to meet interesting people and hear what they were doing.

In part, I was inspired by marketing strategist Dorie Clark‘s advice in Harvard Business Review about networking with people outside your industry. She makes a compelling case for deliberately exposing yourself to diverse points of view.

And just like social media is about sharing and giving, the same is true for a networking event. Approach it from the perspective of how you can help others.

How do you do that? Here are a few ideas.

  • Scan the attendee list. Look up a few people in social media to see who you might want to meet. What have they posted about recently? How can that be a conversation starter?
  • Scan the latest news. Know what’s happening in the world that day. See what’s trending on Twitter. You’ll be better able to engage in conversations and ask people for their thoughts.
  • Wear something that makes a statement. Pick something that you feel great in. A bright color, an interesting tie or a fabulous pin can help you connect with people. And you’ll stand out in photos that are posted in social media.
  • Stand in the doorway for a moment when you arrive. This helps anchor you and lets you scan the room to see who you might want to meet.
  • Put your name tag on your right side. This was something I learned in grad school at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. When you shake hands, your name tag becomes more prominent and easier to read.
  • Grab a beverage. Stick to one drink and sip it slowly. Hold it in your left hand, so your right hand is ready for shaking hands.
  • Have a question or two ready. This will depend on the group. For mine, I asked about how people were connected to the school.
  • Introduce people to each other. Make a point of connecting people you know to each other. Say something great about each person that provides a conversation starter.
  • Look for small groups. It’s easier to start conversations with one or two people. You can start with a comment on the food or the venue or something interesting they’re wearing.
  • Post about the event. Take an interesting photo, add a caption about something new you learned and share the spirit of the event.
  • Share content about the event. If the event has a hashtag, search it and share relevant and appropriate content.

How do you make the most of a networking event?

What is Social Savvy?

“If a company or a person does something great but no one knows about it, does it really matter?”

That’s a question I asked in my very first blog post.

Yes, there are random acts of kindness intended to be done under the radar. Yet, hearing about them can be inspiring when others share the news, like my sister did on Facebook.

While getting coffee in her Connecticut town, she overhead another customer buying a gift card for the police officer outside who was directing traffic. That’s an instant day brightener. And maybe it will inspire others toward similar acts of kindness.

Data and information are collected about us every day, according to The Reputation Economy by Michael Fertik. The question is what we want that data to say about us as a person and as a professional.

Do we want it to open doors or close them? Do we want it to augment the hard work we do every day or detract from it? Do we want it to make our life better or make it harder?

More and more, everything we do has implications for our own personal reputations as well as the companies where we work or that we own. This is both in real life, or IRL, as well as how that becomes represented in social media.

This means we each have great power to do good in the world, to a larger extent than has ever been available to us. And it also means we have the potential make major missteps.

This means each of us needs social savvy.

What’s that?

SOCIAL SAVVY: the vital ability for people to personally brand and market themselves successfully in social media in our ever-evolving world.

This skill is important throughout our lives.

It applies to high school students who are preparing their college applications or moving into the working world.

It applies to college and grad school students who are getting ready to transition into the working world.

And it applies to people throughout their professional lives. For corporate professionals in particular, the stakes for social media are higher.

Social media can help or hurt careers. It can add to or detract from a corporate reputation and an employer brand. It can make acquiring top talent a breeze or a burden.

The risks are high, but so are the rewards. And in our ever-evolving world, no one can afford to sit on the sidelines. The pace of change is too fast for that.

Corporate professionals often ignore or short-change social media. Why? They don’t have the time, they don’t see the value and they don’t want to make a mistake.

Developing social savvy is how professionals can create and implement a social strategy to highlight and share their own thought processes and achievements, along with those of their organizations.

Social savvy is a powerful way for corporate professionals to build their personal brand, advance their career and embrace their future.

What are some examples of social savvy? What does it look like?

  • Using social media to build and amplify your personal brand, the unique value that you bring to the world
  • Positioning yourself in the most favorable light, for a number of career and life paths
  • Positioning your employer or company in the most favorable light
  • Advancing your career through a positive social strategy
  • Helping others advance their careers
  • Helping your company achieve its goals
  • Building your employer’s corporate reputation and employer brand
  • Knowing what to do and not to do in social media
  • Seeing the links between real life and social savvy
  • Knowing when and how to engage with critics

How are you demonstrating social savvy?

10 Tips for a Perfect Podcast

Microphone ready on stand, all set for concert to begin

Podcasts are a powerful way to share your story.

But what exactly is a podcast?

It’s “a digital audio or video file or recording, usually part of a themed series, that can be downloaded from a website to a media player or computer,” says Dictionary.com

Podcasts are taking off. From 2015 to 2016, podcast listening was up by 23%, Jay Baer reported from Edison Research‘s work.

What’s driving the growth? People enjoy greater mobility with smartphones and tablets, Baer says, rather than being tethered to a laptop. Podcasts are easy to listen to on the go.

This is why podcasts have become part of my own personal learning plan and drive-time strategy. Although I’m lucky by Los Angeles traffic standards, I spend more than 60 minutes commuting each day.

That’s a perfect chunk of time for learning. And with lifelong learning being both a pleasure and an imperative, what better time to listen to a podcast?

Data analytics and social media are at the top of my learning agenda. I’ve been enjoying FiveThirtyEight, Freakonomics and Social Pros.

It’s easy to get started. Just search topics of interest on iTunes, download your favorites and start listening.

My work colleague Doug Magditch first got me thinking about podcasts. He invited me to be in his Life at AT&T series, one of his Corporate Communications initiatives.

(This is where I note that opinions expressed here are my own.)

Doug’s conversations with colleagues show how employees are delivering on the company’s mission to connect people with their world – everywhere they live, work and play.

With a degree in mass media, Doug began his career as a reporter and multimedia journalist. His creative skills as a storyteller, his editing skills weaving together a narrative and his on-air presence make Life at AT&T a hit.

He invited Eliska Paratore, Joan Marsh and me to share what it’s like to be a woman in a leadership role at the company. Timing it with election season, he framed it as hearing about leadership “from the veeps.”

This was my first experience with a podcast, and I learned a lot in the process. Here are 10 tips for a perfect podcast.

BEFORE

What’s the best way to prepare for a podcast? Become familiar with the format and give yourself plenty of interesting material to work. This helps with responding naturally and spontaneously during the recording session.

  • Listen to previous podcasts in the series. Understand how the format works. Identify what worked well and what you’d like to emulate.
  • Talk with others who’ve been featured. See what previous participants recommend for preparation. This is a step I wish I’d taken.
  • Think about the subject and what you want to say about it. Brainstorm and jot down ideas. Then narrow the focus to 3 key messages.
  • Gather ideas, anecdotes and data. Chose those that support your key messages. Look for ones that add interest and provide credibility.

DURING

Many of these tips came from listening to myself after the podcast came out and thinking about what I could do better next time.

  • Relax and have fun. Conversations are fun and sharing expertise is fun. Recording a podcast should be the same.
  • Stand up. The advice for standing up during a phone call to give your voice more energy translates well to a podcast recording. People sound more confident when they stand.
  • Use short sentences. This will help your listeners get your key points, not to mention making the editing process much easier.

AFTER

  • Promote your podcast. Tell your social communities about it and why they’d be interested in hearing it. In my case, that meant sharing the podcast in LinkedIn and  Twitter, including retweeting Doug.

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This was easy, thanks to our company’s Social Circle. It provides great content about our brand, ready for sharing by interested employees in their personal social networks.

Inside the company, employees commented on the podcast in an internal social space. When the podcast was released, I visited the page a few times a day to read comments, like and respond to some, and bring additional colleagues into the conversation.

If you’ve recorded a podcast, what worked for you? And what podcasts do you recommend?

Don’t Ditch Social Media

Four friends checking their mobile phones at the same time.

Social media got a bad rap during this year’s election process.

Fake news, Twitter trolls and cyber bullying came under fire.

Among American social media users, the Pew Research Center reported that 65% expressed “resignation and frustration about online political conversations.”

It’s enough to make anyone want to quit social media for good.

But don’t do that.

Why?

Because of your 100-year life.

What’s that about, you ask?

Well, more than half of babies born in developed nations in the 2000s can expect live to 100 or beyond, according to the medical journal The Lancet. And if you were born before then, your life will likely be a lot longer than you think.

A new book called The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity got me thinking about this.

Authors Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott are from the London Business School. They look at how anyone at any age can and should plan for their greater life expectancy, turning the extra time into “a gift and not a curse.”

When lives were shorter, people lived a three-stage life – education, work and retirement. These stages were compartments that didn’t overlap.

As early as 1978, Richard Bolles wrote about them in The Three Boxes of Life and How to Get Out of Them: An Introduction to Work/Life Planning. He advanced the idea that you needed to incorporate all three stages across your entire life.

He also wrote What Color is Your Parachute? It was chosen as one of the 100 All-TIME best and most influential non-fiction books published since 1923.

With how quickly the world is changing, Bolles’ advice was and is spot on.

  • We need to embrace lifelong learning, actively developing new skills as technology and globalization accelerate.
  • We need productive work to provide purpose, meaning and economic sustenance throughout our lives.
  • And we need leisure time to enjoy our lives and the people in them, and to refresh and renew ourselves.

Gratton and Scott explore this concept in writing about the interplay between tangible and intangible assets. They define an asset as “something that can provide a flow of benefits over several periods of time.”

Tangible assets “have a physical existence” and include things like housing, cash and investments. Intangible assets are things like “a supportive family, great friends, strong skills and knowledge, and good physical and mental health.”

The authors say that intangible assets are “key to a long and productive life – both as an end in themselves and also as in input into tangible assets.” They divide them into three categories of assets – productive, vitality and transformational.

One of these intangibles – a productive asset along with skills, knowledge and peers – is your reputation. “When a company has a positive brand, or a person has a good reputation, it is much easier for others to interact with them,” the authors say.

“A good reputation can be enormously important as it enables your valuable stocks of skills and knowledge to be really utilized in a productive way,” they continue. “It can also have a profound impact on your professional social capital.”

Why? “A good reputation will be one of the assets that enable you to expand your horizons,” the authors say. “It is the combination of portable skills and knowledge and a good reputation that will help bridge into new fields.”

They go on to write that “over the coming decades, it is likely that reputation will be based on a broader range of inputs. As future careers embrace more stages and more transitions, then inevitably this will create a broader range of information.”

Enter social media.

“Social media will increasingly broadcast your image and values to others and allow others to track and monitor performance,” they say. “So it is inevitable that you will need to curate a brand and reputation the covers far more than just your professional behavior.”

Everyone will need to signal their skills, their capabilities and their values during a longer life that potentially has multiple transitions. And transitions can take many forms – from one functional area to another, from one company to another and from one type of work to another.

Social media makes it easy to do this.

Over time, you can share your skills and abilities through many platforms – a Twitter feed, a YouTube channel, an Instagram stream, a LinkedIn portfolio, a Snapchat story or a personal blog. And these platforms will continue to change and evolve, with new ones emerging over time.

If you want to make your life’s transitions easier and more fulfilling, then social media is a must. And this doesn’t mean being on a few platforms to share photos with family and friends. A deliberate strategy and a plan for your personal brand in social media is imperative.

But where do you begin? Which social media platforms should you use? How do you curate and create content without it taking over your whole life?

Those will be the subjects of several upcoming posts.

Lead with the Lead

Start with your key sentence. Your point. Your theory. Your ask.

Whether it’s a talk, a text or an email, lead with what’s most important.

Three things got me thinking about this.

First, how do we grab people’s attention from the start? I heard two days of incredible talks at TEDWomen 2016 this month. The speakers did not start with, “Hi, I’m glad to be here and I’m excited about what I’m going to share with you and I’d like to thank a few people before I get started.”

No, they grabbed us with their opening words. With a bold statement or a question or a story. Here are examples from some of my favorite TED talks.

“So I want to start by offering you a free no-tech life hack, and all it requires of you is this: that you change your posture for two minutes.” So begins Amy Cuddy‘s talk, Your body language shapes who you are.

“What makes a great leader today?” There’s no mistaking what Roselinde Torres will address in her talk, What it takes to be a great leader.

“It’s the fifth time I stand on this shore, the Cuban shore, looking out at that distant horizon, believing, again, that I’m going to make it all the way across that vast, dangerous wilderness of an ocean.” Diana Nyad grabs the audience right at the beginning of her story in Never, ever give up.

Second, how do we help busy people easily respond us? Quite simply, by putting the key information in the opening words of our emails and texts.

Beyond putting your main message in the subject line, use your first 10 to 12 words to make your point.

Many people have email preview screens that show these words. Make the most of that space by getting to the point. Because your recipient may not read anything else.

Third, how do we spot the key idea in any interaction? When a meeting ends, can you summarize the most important point in a single sentence? What’s the headline? The tweet? The snap?

Take a few minutes at the end of a conversation or meeting to identify the one key takeaway. Share it with your colleagues.

Given the complexity of many projects and the extensive collaboration that’s required to meet goals, this helps others see the forest for the trees.

This keeps a team focused on what’s most important. It guides their actions. And it increases the likelihood of success.

How do you keep your lead front and center?

What If?

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Have you ever spent a day trying not to cry?

For me, there are always moments that prompt tears. Our national anthem at a school event. The doxology at church (with the gender-neutral, more inclusive lyrics for me). Pomp and Circumstance at a graduation ceremony.

Thank goodness for sunglasses. Because one of the last things I want to do is reveal my emotions in public.

After this week’s experience, though, I wonder if that’s because I go to extremes to avoid being labeled as an emotional woman.

But it may be pointless to try, because as a woman I’m going to be labeled anyway. And I can’t control that.

I can only control my own thoughts and my own actions. And there’s power in that.

What made me want to cry for an entire day this week? None other than the TEDWomen 2016 conference. Phenomenal speakers with ideas worth sharing took the stage, with the theme of “it’s about time.”

I was drawn to TED for many reasons. As a communicator. As a lover of ideas. As someone profoundly saddened by our national conversations – on race, on religion, on gender, on guns, on others. 

As in, people who don’t share the same worldview. People who can’t or won’t listen to each because they’re so busy screaming about how the other group is wrong. And not even wrong, but deluded, dumb and not deserving. Of a voice. Of dignity. Of empathy.

What if our conversations in the world could be more like what I saw, heard and felt on the TED stage?

  • A famous singer talked about channeling her pain from the abusive household where she grew up into her music.
  • An actress shared how she fought back against cyberbullying and violence.
  • A couple who work to improve a Nairobi slum spoke of the randomness of how privilege or poverty are bestowed.
  • A journalist and author talked about the death threats she received when she came out as a lesbian.
  • A rape survivor and the perpetrator shared the stage and their agonizing experiences.

Throughout each electrifying talk, a common question emerged: what can I do?

What if I made it a point to seek out different points of view? To listen to a different newscast or podcast. To get out of my social media stream and hear different voices. To seek out people with more diverse backgrounds and life experiences.

What if I spoke up more forcefully to inappropriate comments? The next time someone says something offensive about another group of people, I will ask why they think that and why they would say that.

What if I was more curious about people and their stories? What has their journey through life been like? What experiences shaped them? What do they struggle with? What brings them joy?

What if I used every means of power available to me for good? How can I encourage people to reach higher? How can I help people expand their networks? How can I empower people to open doors to more opportunity?

What if I took action? While I don’t know exactly what that is yet, I do know it starts with better educating myself on multiple perspectives about what’s going on in the world. Kimberle Crenshaw‘s eye-opening #SayHerName is where I’ll start.

Hearing from so many inspiring people reminded me that each of us can make a difference in the lives of others, every day.

As Kennedy Odede said during his talk with Jessica Posner Odede, “We can’t walk in each other’s shoes, but we can walk together.”

Who are you walking with?