2018 Trends to Build Your Career through Social Media

2018 trend stories on social media are everywhere.

How do you take advice for organizational brand building, apply it to your personal brand and boost it through social media?

How do you make sense of the eye-popping list of trends? In my research I came across:

  • AI, or artificial intelligence
  • AR, or augmented reality
  • VR, or virtual reality
  • influencer marketing
  • Instagram stories
  • messaging platforms like WhatsApp
  • online hangouts like Houseparty
  • more content moderation by platforms
  • decline of organic content reach and rise of pay to play
  • social listening
  • chatbots
  • personalization
  • Generation Z in the workplace and marketplace
  • the rise of ephemeral content with Snapchat and others
  • conversational user interfaces, like Alexa
  • and video, video, and more video, including professional live video.

That’s a lot to think about. So I researched, sifted and synthesized to identify key personal branding trends. (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

As you wrap up your year-end social media checklist and turn to the year ahead, here’s how you can tap into the trends for building your career through social media.

Why is this so important?

First, the personal brand you develop through social media and in real life will help you build your network, position yourself for new roles and navigate career transitions.

Start by deciding – or updating – what goals you want to accomplish in your career and how social media can help make them happen.

Maybe a goal is to attract a sponsor to champion your career. “One of the best ways to attract a coveted senior-level sponsor is to develop a strong personal brand,” Dorie Clark says in Harvard Business Review. What better way to do that than through your social media presence?

Second, there’s an element of serendipity in social media. While you can set specific goals for social media actions, you can’t entirely predict or control the outcomes.

How did this work for me? Over the last year, my social media involvement played a part in being invited to speak to mentoring circles and visiting students, being asked to be an influencer at a big company event, and joining the board of governors for an alma mater’s alumni association.

Third, people are spending more time on social media – more than 2 hours a day, and growing. That gives you more opportunities to boost your career through sharing your thoughts, posting your (non-confidential) work and building your network in social media.

Here are the key social media trends you can use to build your career through social media in the year ahead.

1. Platforms are ever evolving.

Social media is an ongoing learning opportunity, because the algorithms and features of each platform are constantly evolving and changing.

That means we individually need to be constantly observing, learning and experimenting in our chosen platforms to see what gets the most engagement.

An easy way to learn outside the platforms is to listen to podcasts during commute time. On the top of my list are The Science of Social Media, Social Pros and Why I Social.

2. Communities are critical. 

The mantra to always be connecting will help you build community in your chosen social platforms.

As a start, connect with all of your existing contacts at your company, people related to your work, people in professional associations, and so on.

Add new connections as you meet new people, ideally on a weekly basis. And you can identify people you want to meet and connect with them.

Why is this so important? Dakota Shane writes in Inc.com that you can “win” the social media game by asking,” Is my brand building community on social media?”

Building a strong community of people interested in you and what you have to share will help overcome the ever-evolving algorithms that may limit the reach of your content.

Shane gives great ideas to build community through starting a Facebook group, giving your community members a name, showing your audience love and recognition, and starting a meetup.

3. Influencers are for individuals too. 

If influencers continue to build large brands, why not apply the concept to building your career?

This idea first came up for me in an episode of The Science of Social Media. Hosts Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis talked about “pods” of people with complimentary areas of focus in social media. They come together to like, comment on, and share each other’s content.

This trend seems the most pronounced for Instagram. “Insta pods” are groups of 10 to 20 people who follow each other and engagement meaningfully in each other’s content.

You can try this concept on an informal basis by thinking of existing groups you belong to, and if it makes sense to amplify each others’ content.

This happened informally for me with three groups.

  • One is mentoring circles I lead with employee resource groups and an alma mater.
  • Another is the group of influencers who worked together on a big company event. We naturally stayed in touch afterwards and continue to engage with each others’ content.
  • And the marketing and communications team that leads social media for my alumni association involvement is another natural pod.

What groups do you already belong to that could create a pod of people who engage with each other’s social media content?

4. Employee advocacy programs are expanding. 

Employee advocacy programs are poised for big growth in the year ahead, according to the 2017 State of Employee Advocacy survey by JEM Consulting.

Adoption grew by more than 25% over the last year. In 2018, the top goal is to increase the number of employees participating as advocates. Why not be one of them?

Through these programs, companies empower their employees to be brand ambassadors, sharing official news and information about the company and its brand through personal social media channels.

This gives you valuable and ready-made content you can curate for your own social media feeds. Not only will you be building your personal brand, you’ll be enhancing your company’s brand, a win-win.

While trust has declined among consumers, peer influence is on the rise. This makes employer advocacy programs particularly important.

I can’t wait to see what my colleagues Nolan Carleton, Claire Mitzner and others at our company have in store to enhance our employee advocacy program in the year to come.

And with the growth of Instagram and Instagram stories, I’m looking forward to exploring that platform in detail in the coming year, much as I did with LinkedIn over the last year.

5. Video keeps increasing in importance.

This is a continuing trend, as video grows in popularity across social platforms. LinkedIn added video capability this year. And video capability continues to evolve across all platforms.

One of my goals over the last year was to experiment with video. I tried Facebook Live and videos posts on Instagram and LinkedIn. This was just dipping my toe into the water, and I didn’t see great variation in engagement between video posts and image posts. At least, not yet. So the coming year is ripe for more experimentation.

6. Pay to play is on the rise. 

Algorithms constantly change in social media. Organic unpaid reach in social media is declining for brands. That might help or hurt you as an individual, but it’s hard to know for sure.

One way you can measure is by the engagement trends with your posts. Over the last year, are you getting more likes, comments and shares? If not, you could conduct an experiment by paying to boost or promote a few of your posts. Then you can see what happens and adjust your approach accordingly.

It pays to invest in yourself, so consider allocating a small part of your personal budget to build your career through social media.

What do I pay for personally? Blog hosting services for my WordPress site. A subscription to beautiful visuals through iStock by Getty Images. And an annual LinkedIn premium membership. The accompanying training options alone through LinkedIn Learning make it well worth it.

7. Automation opportunities abound.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning seem to be everywhere in trend articles. The Association of National Advertisers, the ANA, even named AI the marketing word of the year. So I keep wondering how best to apply AI and automation to career building through social  media.

Can it create and maintain a social media calendar? Schedule and make posts? Help write top-performing headlines? Conduct research? Outline blog posts?

These are all areas worth exploration in the year ahead. While there are easy ways to weave social media into our everyday lives, I want to learn more about how AI and automation can help.

Given my upcoming focus on Instagram, I’m excited to check out these top 5 Instagram automation tools from Forbes contributor Steve Olenski.

8. Experiments accelerate learning.

My highest performing LinkedIn article was about my experiment in posting to LinkedIn every weekday for a month. Not only did it generate a great deal of valuable data and learning, it engaged my audience much more than other posts, with more than 900 views.

As many of the trend articles attest to, the way to make the most of social media is to take a “test and learn approach.” That’s really the only way to know for sure what will resonate with your community. And what works today might not work a month or a year from now.

There are two near-term experiments on my list. The first is to ask my LinkedIn community what topics they’d like to know more about for career building through social media.

The second is quantitative and qualitative research about why and how professionals are using social media and where they’re finding the most success. Leave me a comment if you’d like to participate.

One trend that likely WON’T work for career building through social media? The rise of ephemeral content in Snapchat and Instagram. This short-term and disappearing content doesn’t build an enduring digital footprint of your work and your point of view.

By creating and curating content in social media on a regular basis, you’re building your career, one post and one interaction at a time. Here are some ways to make it part of your everyday life.

What trends are you focusing on for the coming year?

A Top 2018 PR Trend: Growth in Employee Advocacy

What’s ahead in 2018?

How will you continue to build your career through social media in the coming year? As a corporate professional, how can you best tell your story through social media – and promote your employer’s brand and your colleagues at the same time?

A top trend is the continuing growth in employee advocacy programs. Through them, companies empower their employees to be brand ambassadors.

Employees can share official news and information about the company and its brand through personal social media channels.

Some research I did this week got me thinking about this topic (opinions expressed in this blog are my own).

I reviewed recent literature and studies to identify the trends and challenges in marketing, branding and public relations for the coming year.

6 PR trends to check out in 2018 pointed to the expansion of personal branding and thought leadership beyond a company’s leaders.

“The more people on your team who are building their brands and, by extension, your company’s brand,” says the article’s author John Hall, “the more opportunities you have to distribute content and connect with your audience.”

This dovetails with the observation by IABC Fellow Shel Holtz that “employees are now your most credible spokespeople.” This is based on the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer.

It also aligns with the “media fragmentation and loss of trust” that Robert Wynne covers in The biggest and most important media and PR trends for 2018.

In it, Bob Gold also speaks to the burgeoning challenge of getting noticed in growing media among the “ever-expanding communications channels.”

Another study full of interesting stats is the 2017 State of Employee Advocacy Survey. Conducted by JEM Consulting, it includes responses from 155 mostly U.S.-based companies:

  • Employee advocacy adoption grew by more than 25% over the last year.
  • In 2018, the top goal is to increase the number of employees participating as advocates.
  • Growth occurred for use of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Surprisingly, LinkedIn declined after being the top channel last year.
  • The most popular channels are Facebook (76% of respondents’ employees use it for advocacy), Instagram (62%) and Twitter (56%).
  • Twitter’s popularity went down 29% over the last year.
  • YouTube grew dramatically (35%) in its use year over year – to 43% in 2017, up from 8% in 2016.

“We attribute this shift to the increased variety of industries and type of organizations adopting employee advocacy, as well as the expansion of business objectives for these programs,” says Jen McClure, CEO of JEM Consulting.

“We’re seeing that all types of organizations are using visual media effectively,” McClure also says, “especially online video, which was one of our key recommendations from last year’s study.”

This is good insight for companies and individuals alike in planning for the coming year.

Personally, I’m looking at shifting my employee advocacy more toward Instagram and Facebook. This will be an interesting evolution, since I currently use those channels to connect with my personal networks (although the proportion of professional contacts is growing on those platforms).

And while advocacy seems to be declining in LinkedIn and Twitter, I’ll still focus on LinkedIn. The 500 million people on LinkedIn make it an ideal place to connect with other professionals. And the recent addition of video capability will be fun to explore.

With these data points, how will you create your social media strategy for 2018? What will you you continue? What will you change?

Make the Most of Your Employee Advocacy Program

Looking for a simple way to share great professional content in your social networks?

If your company offers an employee advocacy program, download the app and start sharing content that matches your professional goals for social media.

This can be a key part of your social media savvy strategy to personally brand and market yourself successfully in social media.

But first, what is employee advocacy?

It’s “brands empowering employees to support the goals of the brand, through employee-owned social media,” says Chris Boudreaux in Social Media Governance.

My employer makes it easy to share company-provided content with Social Circle, powered by Social ChorusNolan Carleton pioneered the approach, with much success.

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

Here are 11 ways to make the most of your employee advocacy program, promoting your company while you build your own professional brand.

  • Download the app. Make it easy to share content by putting the app on your mobile devices. You can use snippets of time during the week to review and share content.
  • Choose content categories that support your professional goals. Align your own social media strategy with the available content categories. For example, you could focus on your company’s business strategy, the customer experience, the employee experience, career strategies or community engagement, just to name a few.
  • Customize your feed for your content categories. Once you know what types of content you want to share, see if you can customize the content you see. This will make the process more efficient as you choose what to share.
  • Select the social media platforms you want to post on. Assess how the available content lines up with the platforms where you’re most active for professional purposes. In my case, it’s LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Keep looking before you link. Just as you shouldn’t link to other social media content without reading it first, you should do the same with a company-provided message. Make sure it reflects well on your professional brand before sharing it.
  • Tailor company-provided messages to your voice. You can use the company-provided messaging to share links, or you can edit it to be closer to your own voice. Just be sure that the edits you make reflect positively on your company.
  • Share your pride in your company. Let your enthusiasm for your company shine through. Whether you love the employee experience, the products and services, or everything about your organization, share that sentiment.
  • Follow your company’s social media guidelines. Make sure to follow the spirit and the letter of social media guidelines at your company. When in doubt, err on the conservative side. While you’re acting as a brand ambassador of your company, that holds you to a higher standard.
  • Target 3 or more posts each week. Sprinkle your company’s posts among a broad variety of content you’re sharing. Don’t go overboard with excessive sharing. Since it’s company-related content, post it on weekdays. Your platform may enable you to schedule sharing in advance to post at a specific time.
  • Share social content from colleagues. Keep an eye on content from colleagues who also engage in the advocacy program. Share their content if it fits with your overall goals. This promotes your colleagues, your company and you – a triple win.
  • Experiment and refine your approach. Check the analytics for each of your social platforms to see how your community is engaging with content from your company. Make adjustments based on that, and keep fine-tuning as you go.

 

What if your employer doesn’t offer an employee advocacy program? Make a pitch to your Corporate Communications team.

Here’s a key data point. Consumers see recommendations from friends as the most credible form of advertising – as much as 83%, according to a Nielsen study.

And IABC Fellow Shel Holtz shares for corporate communicators that “employees are now your most credible spokespeople.” This is based on the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Also, check out the 2016 State of Employee Advocacy report from JEM Consulting and Advisory Services.

The study’s leader Jen McClure notes that, “Most employee and brand advocacy programs are still fairly new, and companies are still developing best practices.”

How are you using an employee advocacy program to promote your company’s brand along with your own?