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 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?

The Secret to Fitting Social Media into Your Professional Life

Why doesn’t everyone have a social media strategy for their career?

There are two main reasons: not seeing the value and not having the time.

The value proposition has a simple answer. Our professional reputation increasingly influences how we get jobs, advance in our careers and navigate transitions.

The time equation is more difficult. We each have 24 hours in days that seem to get busier by the second. How can we make the most of our limited time to build our careers through social media?

Start by thinking about what you’ve done professionally over the last month.

Have you –

  1. Spoken at an event
  2. Attended a conference
  3. Taken a course, online or in person
  4. Traveled for a work meeting or event
  5. Joined a professional or trade group and attended a meeting
  6. Received an award for your work
  7. Completed a key project that can be shared in public
  8. Participated in a company-sponsored charitable event
  9. Seen an engaging video about your company or industry
  10. Found a valuable article about your company or industry
  11. Read a thought-provoking book about business or your industry
  12. Come across an interesting post by a colleague or your company

Why consider these activities?

VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk identified a simple and powerful strategy in his post, “Document, don’t create: creating content that builds your personal brand.”

Documenting is creating content, he says. It’s simply sharing your career journey and what you’re doing every day. And it’s easy to do because you’re “just being yourself.”

To look into the future of this documenting trend, check out the New York Times article Keeping Up, on Camera, Is No Longer Just for the Kardashians.

In everything you do professionally today, start by asking yourself if it can be shared publicly in social media. Make sure to never, ever share non-public and/or competitively sensitive information in social media.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution and don’t share. Even if you think something is okay to share in public, check that official company sources have shared the information publicly, or ask your supervisor for confirmation.

Career blogger Penelope Trunk said it well in her online course Reach Your Goals by Blogging. “Just don’t write anything near where your ‘security clearance’ goes,” she advised. While most people don’t have security clearances, this is an apt analogy to keep confidential information confidential. Don’t share it.

Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, then focus on what you’re doing, what’s interesting about it and why it could be valuable to your network.

What specifically in the course of your day, your week and your month could you share that builds the career brand you want to be known for?

Some of my colleagues do this really well. (This is where I remind readers that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

Here are just a few.

TeNita Ballard. TeNita is an enthusiastic champion of diversity and inclusion. She shares the events she attends, the people she meets and what she learns through posts in Instagram, Facebook and more.

John Starkweather. John is a big advocate for business customers. He shared his experience at the company’s recent tech conference The Summit in LinkedIn and Twitter. His posts make you feel like you were there.

Jennifer Van Buskirk. Jennifer leads the east region of the company. She shares leadership lessons she’s learned in her career in LinkedIn, along with the events she attends and speaks at in the course of her work.

Sarah Stoesser Groves. Sarah is a digital marketer who shares news and information her network can use. At The Summit she posted insightful video clips and sound bites from many of the speakers in LinkedIn and Twitter.

L. Michelle Smith. Michelle is a multi-cultural marketer. She’s a great source for the latest research and thought leadership on inclusion marketing through her posts in LinkedIn and Twitter.

Reflecting on the last month, here are some of the professional activities I’ve shared in LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. It only required taking a few photos and videos of the events and sharing key messages in my social networks.

They tended to be squeezed into the nooks and crannies of busy days as well as evenings and sometimes weekends, forming the public side of work-related activities that can be shared in social media.

Attended The Summit in Dallas as a marketing leader and participated on a team of social influencers to amplify the event’s messaging and reach, thanks to Sarah Groves.

Joined the Women’s Sports Foundation‘s annual salute gala in New York, thanks to Fiona Carter who is a member of the group’s board. It was inspiring to see so many strong female role models and spend time with colleagues.

Spoke at #WeGatherLA, the second-annual women’s leadership experience spearheaded by Otter Media President Sarah Harden, thanks to an invitation from Jennifer Cho and Katelynn Duffel. It was an amazing experience interviewing Helie Lee about her project Macho Like Me, when she lived life as a man for six months. Truly incredible!

Talked with visiting students from Howard University and North Carolina A&T University about how to build a career through social media, thanks to Grant Reid, along with John Willis and Kaleb Pask.

Participated in events at USC as a member of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors and USC Annenberg Alumni Advisory Board, thanks to Leticia Lozoya and Ashley Cooper.

Beyond building your career through social media, there are other benefits to documenting your professional life in social. You’re helping to build the brands of your company and your colleagues.

Employees are a trusted and credible source of information about their companies, according to Shel Holtz. Take that responsibility seriously and be sure you’re communicating in alignment with your company’s values, brand and social media policy.

And as we approach the end of the year and you summarize your key accomplishments, your social media feeds are a powerful input. They document many of your key accomplishments. You can add to quantifying their impact by the reach and the engagement of your posts.

As you head into a new week, what are you doing, experiencing and learning this week that you can share in social media?

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 LinkedIn Mutual Connections

Are you making the most of the mutual connections feature of LinkedIn profiles?

Mutual connections appear in the highlights section of profiles, right under the summary at the top.

It’s one of the first things I view, especially when I’m meeting someone new or working with someone for the first time.

This is all part of having a comprehensive social media savvy strategy in navigating your professional path in the corporate world. (Opinions in this blog are my own.)

BEFORE YOU VIEW MUTUAL CONNECTIONS’ PROFILES

Here’s a quick tip before you view the profiles of mutual connections. Set your browsing profiles option to “private.” That way, your name won’t appear as someone who’s viewed a profile.

There may be instances when you want people to know you’ve viewed your profile. Sometimes it’s a good way to indicate interest. But in most cases, it’s better to view profiles in private mode.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN MUTUAL CONNECTIONS

How many mutual connections do you have? This indicates how closely or loosely connected you are to the person. If you have many connections in common, you’re both part of a well-developed community.

If you have only a few connections in common, this person probably adds more diversity of thought to your network. He or she may be someone you want to get to know better.

Why? Cultivating a diverse network is a key leadership skill for the 21st century. Roselinde Torres shares why in her TED talk on What it takes to be a great leader.

Torres says that “great leaders understand that having a more diverse network is a source of pattern identification at greater levels and also of solutions, because you have people who are thinking differently than you are.”

How many of them did you expect to see? Assess how many are people you would have expected to see connected to this person. This will help you answer the next question . . .

Who’s NOT there who you would have expected to see? In other words, who’s missing? And why do you think that is? Most times, it could be a simple oversight.  But there could be other reasons you might want to contemplate.

What organizations and affiliations do you have in common? What are the common employers, professional associations, community organizations, schools, and so on. Again, fewer common organizations could indicate greater diversity in your network.

Which ones are unexpected wild-card connections? This is the most interesting question. Who surprised you? Who made you wonder how your connection knows this mutual connection?

These connections could be the boundary spanners among groups in your network. They’re the people who may be able to connect people and ideas across multiple networks. And they could be people you can reach out to when you’re looking for a “needle in a haystack” type of person.

Karie Willyerd, the author of The 2020 Workplace and Stretch is one of those boundary spanners. It’s a surprise and delight when her name appears as a mutual connection to someone I never would have guessed she knows. She’s role modeling her own advice about cultivating a broad and diverse network.

MAKE THE MOST OF MUTUAL CONNECTIONS

Understand the broader social network. Mutual connections tell you more about someone’s network and how it intersects with yours. This can form the basis for conversation starters about how you know each know the mutual connection, what work you’ve done together, and what you might do together in the future.

Recently I was thrilled to be invited to join the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors as the representative of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. An accompanying role is on the USC Annenberg Alumni Advisory Board.

As I’ve approached the process of meeting more than 75 fellow alums, knowing our mutual connections helps to seed conversations, find common points of interest and generate ideas about our work together to further the alumni experience.

Get to know a new leader, boss or client. When an important new person enters your professional life, see what mutual connections you have in common. Use the 5 questions above to quickly evaluate the common connections.

Then decide if there are a few trusted people you might ask for advice and insights. Here are a few starter questions you might want to know about:

  • What’s important to this person?
  • What’s their leadership style?
  • Who influences them?

See opportunities for collaboration. Work gets done in cross-functional collaborative teams, whether it’s inside your organization or outside of it in a professional or community group.

Your mutual connections could point the way to already-existing relationships that may make a new collaborative effort even stronger from the start. If you’re putting together any kind of cross-functional team, this can be one more data point to assembling a high-performing team.

What are the ways you make the most of your mutual connections?

How to Engage Your LinkedIn Network on Major Holidays

What content do people engage with the most on LinkedIn?

For me, it was a surprise.

As I began to analyze the analytics for my activity feed, posts on major holidays were among the content that rose to the top.

This seemed counterintuitive because all I had done was share a leadership quote relevant to the holiday along with a beautiful photo.

This is why analytics are so powerful – you can see what type of content is engaging your network the most. Then you can build on it and improve what you’re doing.

As part of your social media savvy strategy, here’s a 3-step process for posting holiday-related content:

1. Find a leadership quote relevant to the holiday.

Align your holiday quotes with leadership and business themes you frequently post on. Search Google for leadership articles related to the holiday. See which of your favorite sources pop up as well as new sources. Be sure to appropriately evaluate and vet your sources.

  • Choose less-well-known quotes. Look for quotes you’ve never heard or seen before. Keep searching until you find one. That way, you’re more likely to surprise and delight your network with something fresh.

Here’s one I chose for Memorial Day. The quote was new to me, I learned more about citizens who serve in the Seabees, and it focused on tenacity and persistence – qualities that are helpful to all of us.

 

  • Provide a diversity of perspectives. Broaden your lens. Keep an eye out for compelling quotes by both women and men as well as people of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.

For Thanksgiving, this quote by author Alex Haley caught my eye. It works equally well for professional and personal purposes. Not to mention that it powerfully sums up Thanksgiving in just 6 words.

 

2. Pair it with an eye-catching image. I swear by my subscription to iStockphoto, which is the source of the images in the LinkedIn posts featured here. Canva is another good resource for photos and design.

And there are great ideas about “awesome free images” in a detailed post by blogger Marko Saric.

 

3. Add hashtags. Make your post more discoverable by adding one or two hashtags. Search LinkedIn and Google for the obvious hashtag for the holiday – e.g., #FourthofJuly – and see what other hashtags people are using in their posts.

 

Lastly, keep an eye on comments and respond in a timely manner to further engage with people in your network. Holiday posts elicit the most “hi, how are you doing?” types of comments. That makes them a fantastic way to keep in touch with people.

How do you make the most of major holidays on LinkedIn?

How to Build a Better Business Relationship on LinkedIn

An interesting thing happened when I posted to LinkedIn every weekday for a month.

I also tweeted a few of my shorter posts. One of them was about knowing when someone has true leadership skills.

This was one of my learnings: tweet every LinkedIn post and article. But a bigger learning was still to come.

In sharing this particular post, I expressed thanks for the great bosses and leaders I’ve had to far in my career. And I asked “what leaders have inspired you and why?”

While I follow the best practice of asking a question in posts and tweets, I must confess they don’t usually generate much engagement.

But this time was different. To my surprise and delight, a colleague responded by singing the praises of one of our other colleagues. She did it in wonderful detail, mentioning specific leadership traits in an enthusiastic and engaging way.

Soon, the other colleague joined the dialogue, with thanks and good humor. All in all, it was a pleasant way to connect with people who are in my network but separated by busy work schedules and a 3-hour plane ride.

The even better part? I had an upcoming meeting with the colleague getting the accolades. I knew the conversation might be difficult due to the sensitivity of the subject. And our LinkedIn-inspired conversation in Twitter added a more upbeat tone to our working relationship.

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

And it was in a positive and pure way, because my intention was simply to share valuable leadership content with my network.

This underscores the importance of giving in social media – without the expectation of getting. Because you never know how others in your network will respond and what good outcomes may happen.

But what if you want to be a little more strategic and focused in creating a stronger business relationship through LinkedIn?

Who are the important people in navigating your career – now and in the future?

And how can social media add to your efforts to build a positive, long-term relationship?

Once you’ve identified a few people to build stronger relationships with, here’s how you can use LinkedIn to add to your efforts.

If you’re not already connected on LinkedIn, send a personalized request. Remember, always personalize your request. Remind the person of how you know each other and why you’d like to connect.

  • If it’s your boss, say you’d like to connect because of your reporting relationship.
  • If it’s a peer, mention a common goal or project you’re working on.
  • If it’s someone in a function beyond yours, share your interest in learning more about what they do.
  • If it’s someone on a project team, share your enthusiasm for your work together.
  • If it’s someone more senior to you, talk about a key project they’re working on that you’re following in the news.

See what connections you have in common. Which connections intrigued and surprised you? Can you come up with a hypothesis as to how they know each other? This might be important later when you’re engaging with content.

Is there anyone you expected to see, but didn’t? Is there anyone in your network who might be valuable for this person to know? Consider making an introduction at the appropriate time.

Observe their articles and posts. View their current content and look at past content for the last 3 to 6 months.

What topics are they posting on? How do those relate to your current work or your future interest? What kind of reach and engagement are their posts generating?

Like, comment on and share their content. Once a week, like a post or an article and leave a substantive comment. Mention the person by name so they’ll receive a notification of your comment.

Thinking back to who it might be helpful for this person to know, see if you can mention and weave that person into the comment, if the subject matter lends itself to it.

Here’s where you can help augment the reach of your connection’s content. Share it with your network, if it’s aligned with the types of content you share. Mention the person by name so they’re notified of the share, and add your perspective to the content. End with a question to invite more engagement.

See what groups they belong to. Do you have any groups in common? If so, engaging with content in that group could help build your relationship.

Do they belong to any groups you’d like to learn more about? If so, you could message your connection and ask them for their thoughts on the the group and their advice on engaging with it.

Focus on giving and keep it light. Be generous. Think more about how you can give and how you can help your connection.

In doing that, keep it light. Your interactions should be just frequent enough – no more than once a week or every few weeks – so they’ll appreciate hearing from you.

Don’t stalk your connection by interacting with them too often. Keep your interactions interesting and insightful.

What are ways you build a stronger business relationship on LinkedIn?

6 Ways Social Media Can Help You Prepare for an Initial Business Meeting

How do you prepare when you have an upcoming business meeting with someone you’ll be meeting for the first time?

Sure, you’ll set objectives for the meeting. You’ll create an agenda. And you’ll think about the information you want to share. These are all best practices for effective meetings.

But don’t stop there.

Social media gives you valuable opportunities to learn more in advance about the person, or people, you’ll be meeting. It opens a new window on what’s important to someone and how they think.

It’s all part of making a great first impression, as Rebecca Knight covers well in a Harvard Business Review article. It’s packed with tips from thought leaders Whitney Johnson and Dorie Clark.

With social media, you can take 15 to 30 minutes to get to know someone’s career, their professional interests and their potential commonalities with you.

Here are 6 ways to do that, as part of your social media savvy strategy.

Visit their LinkedIn profile. Focus on their current role and the problems that person is solving in their work. Consider how that connects with your meeting objectives.

See what other jobs they’ve held, what groups they’re part of and where they went to school. Read recommendations to get a better sense of who they are. See if you have any connections in common.

Look at their other social media activity. Are they active on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook? Visit those sites to round out your view of what’s important to this person.

Read their blog. If they have a blog, read the most recent 3 posts. Scan previous posts for topics that might be relevant to your upcoming meeting.

If they don’t have their own blog, see if they’ve posted articles in LinkedIn that would give you similar insight.

Search Google. No research is complete without a Google search. You can search on the person’s name, as well as the person’s name along with their current employer or other keywords related to your meeting topic.

See what pops up on the first 3 screens of your search. Visit a few of the links to learn more.

Send a personalized LinkedIn connection request. Once you have a sense of what you might have in common, or what’s especially interesting to you about this person, send a LinkedIn connection request.

In your personalized request (always personalize!), you can mention your upcoming meeting and that you’d like to connect in advance. This helps better establish the relationship, and it may prompt the person to view your profile and learn more about you.

Make sure you’ve put your best foot forward in your profile. Any recent content you’ve posted should further – or at least not detract from – your meeting agenda and objectives.

Comment on their content. In your research, what content stood out to you as especially salient to your upcoming meeting? You can like and comment on a recent piece of content that is aligned with your meeting topic. And if it would be valuable to your own network, consider sharing it more broadly.

These actions will enable you to know your audience much better and help foster a positive working relationship from the very beginning. (A reminder that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

Just remember to keep it light in both your virtual and real-life interactions. Don’t like or comment on too much content and don’t bring up subjects that your new business acquaintance might consider too personal or intrusive.

What are ways you connect with people in social media before an initial meeting?

How to Boost Engagement with LinkedIn Articles

Three is a magic number. In a whimsical, 3-minute video, Schoolhouse Rock explains why.

Maybe that’s why it took 3 separate LinkedIn messages from connections for me to notice a trend.

What were they? Friendly invitations to check out their latest LinkedIn articles.

They were from a diverse group, with no overlaps in our networks.

One was a work colleague I met first through LinkedIn, Anthony Robbins. (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

One was someone who connected with me through the MAKERS conference, Kari Warberg Block.

And another was the CEO of a partner company with a previous employer, Terry Traut.

They each sent a personal message to me through LinkedIn highlighting a recent article and inviting me to read it and engage with it.

And in doing so with me and likely many others, they generated not only a high number of likes, but also a great dialogue of comments.

This is a powerful proactive strategy in sharing your own articles with key people in your network. It’s something I’ll be experimenting with – and writing about – in the coming weeks.

There’s also a reactive play. Here are 6 aspects to consider (and that’s 3 times 2, for anyone following the theme of 3).

Engage with articles that align with your social media goalsHow does an article relate to your social media savvy strategy?

Look for something in it that connects with your professional interests and goals. That will both highlight your personal brand and help provide the basis for your comment.

Scan other comments to put yours in context. See what other people have posted and how that has extended and amplified the author’s point of view.

If any of the commenters are in your network, like their comment, remembering to look before you like. Consider posting a comment to further your relationship and the dialogue.

If any of the comments are of particular interest to you, visit the commenter’s profile to learn more about them. Like or comment on the comment. Maybe that commenter is even someone you’d like to get to know and invite to your network.

Post comments that add something to the dialogue. Consider your comment as additive content to the original article, beyond simply a “great post!” statement that affirms the author but doesn’t add anything new.

What resonated with you the most and why? How has your experience been similar or different and why? What additional ideas, links and people can you add to the conversation? Ask yourself these questions and more as you write your comment.

Mention the author in your comment. To keep it informal and eliminate extra words, delete the author’s last name when LinkedIn auto-populates it and use the first name only.

By mentioning the author, they’ll be notified of your comment. And they may choose to like or respond to your comment.

Stick with the rule of 3. Keep your comment to 3 sentences, max. Write it and then edit out extra words and thoughts. Ask yourself how you can make your point in fewer words.

Proofread, proofread, proofread. Make sure your comment is free of spelling and grammatical errors.

I learned this the hard way with a comment today. I proofread it, fixing a spelling error that had been auto-corrected incorrectly (it was a Colin Powell quote using the word “simplifiers,” which auto-corrected to “simplifies” without the “r.” Oops.

But after I posted the comment, I realized that one sentence didn’t have the right subject-verb agreement. As of now, you can only delete a LinkedIn comment and repost it; unfortunately it’s not possible to edit it.

Not many people might have recognized the error, because the subject and the verb were separated by intervening words. But content can live on the internet forever. So I deleted the comment and re-posted it with the correct wording. Next time, I’ll proofread 3 times before posting.

Speaking of grammar and subject-verb agreement, it’s encouraging to see the 2017 AP Stylebook will “include guidance on the limited use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun.” This a positive step forward for gender equality. And that’s why I use “they” as a singular pronoun.

Back to boosting engagement with LinkedIn articles, what strategies are you using?

What Happens When You Post to LinkedIn Every Weekday for a Month?

What happens when you post daily to LinkedIn?

In the month of May, I found out. I did an experiment. I posted every weekday to see what I would learn.

Why every weekday?

It takes about “20 LinkedIn posts every month to reach 60 percent of your audience,” according to a data point that Carly Okyle cited in an Entrepreneur article about LinkedIn profiles.

And because LinkedIn is a social media platform for professionals, most content views are during the work week.

To make it (relatively) easy to post daily, I set up a weekly calendar:

Mondays – a Social Circle employer advocacy program post (note: opinions I share in social media and in this blog are my own)

Tuesdays – content from one of my favorite business publications, like Harvard Business Review, The Economist, or Inc.

Wednesdaysan article, based on a previous post from this blog

Thursdays – a Social Circle employer advocacy program post

Fridays – sharing a post from a colleague, an alma mater, a professional association, a favorite publication or new content based on a holiday or other milestone.

With this content calendar framework in mind, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought to post every weekday. During early morning hours, it took about 10 minutes for most posts and 30 minutes for articles.

So, what did I learn?

Engagement increased each week. How did I measure engagement? By the number of total views each week.

By week 2, views were up 25%. By week 3, up 166% over the previous week. By week 4, up 88% over the previous week.

At the end of week 4, I also noticed my profile views were up by 45% over the previous week.

Week 5 was an anomaly. Views and profile views went down. However, I posted only 4 days that week because I skipped Memorial Day. And views may have been down because some people were on vacation after the long weekend.

Content re-shared by others got more engagement. When my 1st degree connections re-shared my content with their networks, I got the highest engagement as measured by views and likes.

Analytics came in handy, as I could see whether a post got more engagement from my 1st or 2nd degree network. What was harder to know was when my content was re-shared and who shared it.

Views are measured differently for posts and articles. Articles got fewer views than posts, but generated more likes. A view of a post means that “someone saw your post in their LinkedIn homepage feed.”

The bar is higher for a view of an article. Here it means “someone has clicked into and opened your article in their browser or on the LinkedIn mobile app.”

Understanding this, it now makes sense that while views to my articles were lower than for posts, articles generated more likes. People had actually opened the link for articles.

Hashtags are important to make content discoverable. In my zeal to post frequently, I often forgot to include hashtags. That limited broader discovery of my content.

Posts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays got the most engagement. This is consistent with data showing it’s best to post in the middle of the week.

An exception to the learning above? If a post reached my 2nd degree network, then the day of the week didn’t matter. And that’s the most important thing I learned – the power of content that is re-shared.

If content is engaging enough for connections to share it with their networks, it reaches a much broader audience. It exposes your ideas to more people. And it creates opportunities to connect with more people who share common interests.

Most engagement was for posts about how to be a better leader and professional. This is consistent with LinkedIn being a social media platform for professionals in business. These posts were more likely to be positive and upbeat in nature.

And that’s consistent with a study by 2 professors whose research supported the finding that, “Content is more likely to become viral the more positive it is.”

The least engagement was for topics that could be viewed as bad news. This aligns with the analysis I did of my least engaging posts.

They had to do with what could be perceived as bad news – dealing with the death of a family member, thinking about dramatic change, and being reminded of goals we haven’t achieved.

The big question this leaves me with? How to make my content more compelling and more likely to be shared by my connections? Here’s how I’ll approach that.

  • Like, comment and share others’ content. I’ll move content sharing to two days a week instead of one, and I’ll mention the person who initially posted it.
  • Use hashtags so people can more easily discover content of interest. In my haste to post daily, I often forgot this important action.
  • Mention people in posts and figure out if the mention feature works when sharing an article.
  • Share every article to Twitter and Facebook using the convenient LinkedIn feature that pops up in the posting and sharing process.
  • Study and practice how to write more compelling headlines and summaries. Experiment with what grabs people’s attention.

As I take these actions in the weeks and months ahead, I’ll keep tracking engagement with my content.

In particular, I’ll look at ways to better track when my posts and articles are shared, and by whom.

If the sharer mentioned me, that shows up in my LinkedIn notifications. Sometimes LinkedIn sends an analytics summary. But shares do not (yet) appear in the LinkedIn analytics for posts and articles.

Better capturing these analytics will help me understand which content is shared the most, so I can create a hypothesis about why.

In the meantime, what motivates you to re-share a post or article with your network?