How to Seize the Moment in Social Media

How does a two-minute chance meeting at Starbucks turn into 100+ likes and positive interactions in social media?

When your colleague asks another colleague to take a quick picture and shares it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with a fun caption promoting #LifeatATT.

That person is TeNita Ballard, a passionate champion for diversity and inclusion at AT&T. We both work in Southern California, and we ran into each other at the company’s headquarters in Dallas this week. (Note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

I’ve written about TeNita before in the secret to fitting social media into your professional life. She was the first example I held up of people who are especially good at documenting the highlights of their professional lives.

She’s always looking for ways to share the public side of her work — from Chief Diversity Officer Corey Anthony’s recent visit with employee resource groups to the Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute at USC.

This is all part of a strategy to simply document your day, rather than attempting to create content above and beyond what you’re already working on.

Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of Vayner Media, articulates it well in his post, Document, don’t create. It’s an easy and authentic approach.

To get started, ask yourself a few questions …

  • What are you working on that you can share publicly?
  • What actions are you especially excited about?
  • What information would benefit your network, promote your colleagues, and/or amplify your employer’s brand?

Many good examples of this appeared in my social media feed this month.

Fiona Carter, Chief Brand Officer at AT&T, shared a gathering of high-powered marketers convening to discuss big topics around gender equality. It highlights the company’s leadership in improving the representation of women and girls in advertising in the #SeeHer industry initiative.


Mo Katibeh, Chief Marketing Officer for AT&T Business, sparked advance interest in his presentation at the 2018 AT&T Business Leadership Kickoff meeting with a picture of his rehearsal, the group’s theme for the year and @mentions of key colleagues.


Karyn Spencer, VP of Hello Lab at AT&T, shared an interview clip at the Sundance Film Festival of the work she and colleagues have been doing, especially in the areas of inclusion and diversity.


It was one of several interviews Carrie Keagan conducted during the event, with Nicholas Bianchi posting the great news that “AT&T was the #1 mentioned brand on Twitter at Sundance.”


While I wasn’t at Sundance or the power marketers’ dinner, I felt like I was part of the experiences, thanks to my colleagues. I did get to see Mo Katibeh’s presentation, and it was well done. After coming across his post, I looked forward to seeing his talk.

To wrap up my own week back in Southern California, I hosted three students from USC Annenberg at AT&T’s El Segundo campus – Gina Wanless, Kaitlin Rhodes and Avalon Harder.

They are finishing graduate and undergraduate programs this spring. I’m excited to see the great things they’ll do next.

What you you doing this week that you can share in social media?

Social Savvy Strategies for Attending a Conference

Do you have a social savvy strategy for the next conference you’re attending?

This is top of mind for me this week. I couldn’t be more excited to attend the The 2017 MAKERS Conference for women’s leadership, which starts tonight.

With the recent film Hidden Figures, I look forward to hearing from Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer, pictured above, and the other luminary women and men who will be speaking.

My employer is a sponsor of the conference, and I could not be more proud. (This is where I remind readers that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

Here are some ideas about making the most of your conference experience in social media.


How can you amplify awareness of the conference and its goals?

  • Check out the social media plan for the conference. For MAKERS, this came in a series of pre-event emails with sample messages and great content to share.
  • Know and use the relevant hashtag(s). #BEBOLD is the MAKERS hashtag. It’s perfect because it stands out in all caps and its brevity saves characters.
  • Share pre-conference information in your social networks. In the weeks leading up to the conference, I’ve shared content in Twitter and LinkedIn.


How can you get to know new people you can learn from?

  • Check out the attendance list in advance. If anyone already in your network is attending, you can reconnect as well as identify new people you want to meet.
  • Be active in the event app – or in a social media group. Add your picture and key info to your app profile. Send messages to people you want to meet in person.
  • Introduce yourself to 5 to 10 new people at each session. A goal to say hello to a focused number of people makes connections meaningful and manageable.


How can you share valuable content with your social networks?


What can you do after a conference to share the learnings, increase the impact and grow the new network connections you made?

  • Share with your colleagues. Post a summary for appropriate groups in your company’s social intranet or present it in a face-to-face meeting.
  • Take one new action. Commit to doing one thing that will make a difference. My #BEBOLD action will be the subject of a future post.

How do you make the most of a conference experience in social media?

Who Am I? (part three)


When you’re going for the good stuff in life, give yourself an advantage by competing only against yourself.

Figuratively this means don’t compare yourself to others. That’s a fool’s errand. Compare yourself only to how you’re getting better every day. How you’re learning and growing. What you’re contributing to the world.

Literally this means to look for situations where you really are competing only against yourself.

Here’s an example.

After four years in aerospace corp comms, I was ready for the next step. The entertainment world caught my eye. But I had no idea how to make that move.

In an unrelated development, I called an IABC acquaintance to get the new phone number of mutual contact.

Jeff Torkelson happened to be the SVP of corporate communications at DIRECTV, an offshoot of an aerospace company that launched an all-digital, national TV service. As the original disrupter to cable, it was growing fast.

As we talked it dawned on me that he was asking more about my work than a casual social conversation would usually entail. Then he said he’d been looking, unsuccessfully, for a new communications manager. Would I be interested in exploring it?

Uh, yeah.

One thing led to another, and a few weeks later I joined DIRECTV. (And here’s where I tell you the opinions expressed in this blog are mine.)

The lesson? Your network is important. Invest in meeting new people in person and in social media. Keep in touch. Help people out. Introduce them to each other. Pass along job leads.

The other lesson? The power of not trying too hard. Check out A Meditation on the Art of Not Trying.

While I wasn’t managing people (yet), I was responsible for employee communications and executive presentations, both internal and external.

But after a week on the job, I realized I’d made a big mistake.

While the people were friendly and the TV service was exciting, the environment was like a start up. People running around with their hair on fire. Long days that stretched into long nights. Some people never seemed to go home.

It wasn’t like I hadn’t been warned. “It’s really busy here,” Jeff said during our interview. “Do you think you can handle it?”

His words came back to haunt me during those first few crazy days. But I wasn’t about to quit after a week. I decided to stick it out for a year. Then I could move on to a better fit.

But something magical happened. I discovered I could thrive in that crazy environment. That it actually energized me. That I felt alive with the possibilities about what the future could become.

I got the green light to hire my first team member. And then my second.

And I figured out how to make it all work. The real secret was a lot of early mornings when I found quiet time for heavy thinking work – whether it was comms planning or speech writing.

When I started at the company in 1999, we had 5 million customers in the U.S., 1,200 employees and two locations.

Fast forward to 2015. We have 39 million customers in the U.S. and Latin America, close to 30,000 employees and well over 150 locations.

The lesson? Join a company that’s growing, with leaders who inspire you and values that move you.

And become comfortable not only with navigating change but with leading it.

During my tenure so far we’ve had four corporate owners and six CEOs. My comms team has grown to 44 people in nine states. (And the picture above was taken at DIRECTV in 2011 for a USC Annenberg alumni promotion.)

The consistent theme in working and growing at DIRECTV is that we entertain the future. We’re in the business of transforming TV.

In my last post I shared my zeal to establish myself early on with a number of industry awards. I also said how we’re measured as communicators has changed over time.

While some of it has to do with becoming a senior-level communicator, most of it has to do with our rapidly changing world.

Awards focus on what you did in the past.

But in the present it’s about how well you’re contributing to the company strategy. How you shape your corporate reputation to attract more and better customers, employees and shareholders. And how you give back to the communities where you do business.

And more than ever, it’s focusing on the future. How do you make products and services that people will love? How do you create a workplace where you can attract great people? And how do you consistently generate growth to attract investors?

And that gets back to why I launched this blog. Which will be the subjects of many future posts.