What’s Your (Social Media) Theme for 2018?

Happy New Year!

Did you make any resolutions? Or set any goals?

A theme for the year can help you achieve them. What’s a theme? It’s a single word you pick to characterize the kind of year you want to have.

As you think about how you’ll build your career through social media in the coming year, the focus of this blog, a theme can help you in four ways.

Motivation. A theme is a personal rallying cry you can apply to everything you do, in social media and in real life. It can help motivate you to take small steps towards your goals, day after day.

Focus. A theme tells you what’s important. And what’s not. It helps you decide in an instant if you’re spending your time in the most important ways to you.

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.

Meaning. A theme gives meaning and purpose to every action you take. Your reason for choosing your theme gives you the “why” of your goals and actions.

2018 is year eight for me of having an annual theme. My latest theme came to me while participating in Seth Godin‘s online marketing seminar over the summer.

Seth is a bestselling author and entrepreneur, with an incredible blog on marketing, respect, and the way ideas spread. Everything in Seth’s course focused on his view that “marketing is about creating change.”

Toward the end of the class, a book arrived in the mail. It was called Footprints on the Moon, with a cover photo of Neil Armstrong. One of the sections was called “Buzzer Management.”

Parts of it went as follows:

“I started the quiz team at my high school. Alas, I didn’t do so well at the tryouts, so I ended up as the coach, but we still made it to the finals.

It took me 30 years to figure out the secret of getting in ahead of the 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.

As soon as you realize that you might be able to identify the answer by the time you’re asked, buzz.

Between the time you buzz and the time you’re supposed to speak, the answer will come to you. And if it doesn’t, the penalty for being wrong is small compared to the opportunity to get it right.

What separates this approach from mere recklessness is the experience of discovering (in the right situation) that buzzing makes your work better, that buzzing helps you dig deeper, that buzzing inspires you.

The act of buzzing leads to leaping, and leaping leads to great work.”

As soon as I read it, I knew my next theme had to be BUZZING. I have a habit of holding back, of waiting for perfection. And in that waiting, the world rushes by. Faster and faster, with each passing day.

It’s not comfortable, buzzing in before I’ve completely formulated my thought. But it’s exactly the reminder I need to weigh in and share my point of view. Sooner rather than later. And even if it’s not perfect.

Not in a reckless way. But in a faster way. In social media for career building, the topic of this blog, it’s still important to to keep it “light, bright and polite” in the words of Josh Ochs.

My theme gives me the extra nudge to keep learning and experimenting, while continuing to be positive and constructive in my approach to social media.

Other years’ themes have come in different ways.

Last December our family went to Disneyland over the holidays. It was crowded. Wait times were long. Our family of four ended up making it on only four rides. Yes, I calculated the per-ride cost, but I’ll spare you the painful details.

Because there was a big upside. One of the rides inspired my theme. We ended up in the front row of Soarin’ Around the World. We had a bird’s-eye view of some of the most beautiful scenes on the planet.

And there was my theme – SOARING. All of the definitions worked: to fly or glide at a great height, to rise or ascend to a height, and to rise or aspire to a higher or more exalted level.

I’m happy to say that my theme inspired and focused my efforts. It helped me to achieve several personal and professional goals during the year.

What first prompted me to choose a theme word was a particularly intense work project in 2010. I poured significant energy into designing and delivering a first-ever, week-long leadership development program for my employer. I put my heart and soul into it, giving it the energy and attention it needed to be successful.

But in the process, I seriously neglected myself. My life had become to full. It was like an overstuffed closet. As a result, I made several changes to my life in 2011.

It began by thinning my calendar of commitments, letting the clock run out on too many community activities. Next I brought thinning to my stuff, clearing out clutter and saying farewell to things I no longer needed. Then I applied thinning to myself, focusing on better nutrition and exercise, ultimately becoming a lifetime member of Weight Watchers.

My theme word was THINNING. Often we need to let go of the old to create space for the new. That’s what my theme word did for me that year. It opened up the space I needed to achieve new goals. The next year my theme word naturally evolved to BUILDING.

It wasn’t until after I stumbled upon the idea of a theme word on my own that I realized others promote this practice too.

Best-selling author Gretchen Rubin wrote A Fun Way to Shape the New Year: Pick a One-Word Theme. And nutrition professional Melinda Johnson says to Try a New Year’s Theme Instead of a Resolution.

As you build your career through social media in the coming year, a theme can focus and inspire your efforts. Beyond that, it can be a rallying cry for everything you do.

I’m excited to see what the act of buzzing will bring. As a start, it will free me from always thinking I already have to have the answer. In today’s world, we’re all seekers, looking for the answer amidst constant change. That makes experimenting, testing and iterating more important than ever before.

What’s your theme for 2018?

A Year-End Checklist for Building Your Career through Social Media

In the business world, there are many year-end activities you can apply to your social media strategy for building your career.

What are they? Completing the year’s priorities. Assessing performance for you and your team. Closing the books. Celebrating the season. Connecting with people. Assessing upcoming trends. Setting new strategies and goals.

Here’s a checklist to consider for your own year-end plans as you build your career through social media.

FINISH PRIORITIES AND ASSESS PERFORMANCE

Reflect on how you did on this year’s social media goals. If you set a game plan for the year, see where you did well and what you want to do better in the future.

My plan was to:

(1) amplify my employer’s social media strategy through its Social Circle

(2) give corporate professionals a roadmap to build their career through social media with this blog (note: opinions are my own)

(3) share appropriate highlights of my work in social media

(4) learn how social media is evolving by experimenting with platforms and listening to podcasts, and

(5) help people in my network by sharing and commenting on their content.

Overall, I made progress in every area, even if I didn’t reach every numerical goal. I didn’t share many highlights of my work in social media, because some of it wasn’t content that should be posted in a public forum.

One exciting exception was sharing the news that my employer was named to Fortune’s 2017 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. As part of a cross-functional team dedicated to making the company a great place to work for all,   I was thrilled to see this recognition and shared it in social media.

Apply your social media activity to your performance assessment. If you’ve been using social media to document your professional life, your feeds become another valuable input to summarize your performance.

You can sift through your posts and articles as reminders of the highlights of the year’s accomplishments. If some of the posts performed particularly well with audience engagement or business impact, you could incorporate those numbers into your performance assessment.

Once your self assessment is done, you have a valuable document to use to update your LinkedIn profile with accomplishments, projects, organizations, awards, and so on. Decide if you want to make tweaks to your profiles in other social platforms, to keep them aligned.

If you have visuals suitable for sharing in public, upload them to your LinkedIn profile to showcase your best work. Consider videos, photos, podcasts, slide decks, news releases and other visual representations. Err on the conservative side if you’re not sure if you should share information. When in doubt, don’t post.

CONNECT WITH YOUR NETWORK AND CELEBRATE THE SEASON

Make the most of social media for holiday networking events. Consider the social media aspect of the event, which I covered in another post.

Stephanie Vozza has a great piece in December’s issue of Fast Company with ideas about how to prepare.

“See who’s going,” says Dorie Clark author of Stand Out Networking. “The event organizer will often publish the names and bios of the people who’ll be there. Get a head start by identifying who you want to meet.”

Judy Robinett, author of How to Be a Power Connector suggests offering to volunteer. “This will allow you access to key leaders who can make key introductions.”

She also advises doing “an internet and social media search of people you want to meet, so you have something meaningful to talk about or ask.” She suggests reaching out in advance via social media.

Reconnect with people. As you’re scrolling through your social media feeds, make an extra effort to post comments for people you want to strengthen and refresh your connections with. A comment or a share means so much more to your network than a like.

SHARE HOLIDAY GREETINGS

Create your holiday greeting posts for your social networks. How will you wish your networks a happy holiday season? Are there inspiring leadership quotes you want to share? Valuable and timely articles you want to post? A fun holiday photo or video with your team to wish your business partners all the best?

To spark your creativity, look at how others are posting about the season. What resonates with you? What would you do differently?

Check out #holiday hashtags for business. Think about what hashtags you’ll use for your holiday posts to make your content more discoverable. Here’s a hashtag calendar resource for the whole year, to help with the holidays and your planning for the new year.

Take a inclusive approach to your hashtags, keeping in mind that a variety of holidays are celebrated at the end of the year.

ASSESS TRENDS AND ACCELERATE LEARNING

Check out trends for the new year. In an upcoming post, I’ll summarize the big trends ahead for building your career through social media. It will build on the format from last year with my post on how social media will change for professionals in the coming year.

Pick one new thing you want to learn. Based on the trends, what do you most want to learn? What are you most interested in? Although my social media trends post is still be researched and written, a big area of focus for me will be video. How can I incorporate more video into my social strategy? How can I tell stories with short videos?

Find a new podcast to learn from while you commute. The ones I’ve been enjoying are:

The Science of Social Media with Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis

Social Pros with Jay Baer and Adam Brown, and

Why I Social with Christopher Barrows.

These turn my commute time into learning time, making it easier to stay up to date and pick up new ideas.

Identify an experiment to conduct. In each of the last two years, I’ve done a 30-day experiment. This year it was seeing what would happen when I posted to LinkedIn every weekday for a month. Last year it was blogging every day for a month.

In the year ahead I’m contemplating primary research on how corporate professionals are building their careers through social media.

PLAN FOR THE NEW YEAR

Pick a theme for the year. A theme for your year gives you a rallying cry that focuses your efforts. It helps you prioritize what to focus on and what to ignore. Here’s how author Gretchen Rubin picks a one-word theme. For the last sever years I’ve had an annual theme, and I’ll cover this in an upcoming post.

Set your #socialmediagoals for the new year. What did you learn from this year’s social media activity? What are the trends for the new year? What do you want to learn? These are all questions to ask yourself as you create a fresh set of goals.

Clear the decks. Just as you clean up your physical and digital workspace by deleting old files, updating contacts, and so on, do the same for your social media accounts.

Clear out the message cache for each platform. You don’t have to respond to everything. Go through pending connection requests on LinkedIn. Here’s a strategy for which invitations to accept. Start the new year fresh.

What’s on your year-end social media checklist?