Social media is becoming a key leadership skill. Social media represents a real opportunity for leaders – a place where they can engage with employees, customers and peers alike. To create a personal brand, keep up to date and to lead with transparency and authenticity.
On a practical level, most leaders can’t engage face to face with the people that work for them. It just isn’t possible. But social media allows leaders to connect directly, regardless of geography and time zones.
We know that there is a digital skills gap here in the UK. Leaders who use social media can provide a role model for the digital and social skills that employees need. For organisations who want to create a culture of communication and collaboration through social media, effective social leadership provides informal permission and an example to follow. Social media also represents an opportunity for leaders to learn. Getting to the C Suite doesn’t mean that you don’t need to keep your skills up to date. From a thought provoking blog post to the latest industry news – everything the social leader needs to know is on a device in their pocket, in real time.
The benefits are many, but unfortunately, examples of effective and authentic social leadership, truly social leaders, remain few and far between.
So just what does effective social leadership look like?
Firstly of all, it doesn’t mean just being on LinkedIn and checking in there every few months. Effective social leaders are active on the same platforms as their employees, customers or service users. They engage directly with the people that follow them, responding to comments or tweets. They aren’t afraid to show a little bit of their personality. They do it for themselves – they don’t ask the marketing or comms team to do it for them. Effective social leaders have opinions. They share their ideas and stories. They learn how to do it properly. Most of all, they recognise the importance of social media and put the time in to do it well.
Becoming a social leader isn’t always easy. It does require effort and time. Senior leaders are busy people, and social media can feel like one more thing on the to-do list. There will also be leaders worrying about the potential negatives of social media. All the same, the evidence as to why leaders should get social is compelling.
If you are a leader that wants to get more social, we have five top tips:
- Know why you are doing it. You don’t need a big strategy. Whether it is to build your personal brand, promote your business or engage with your employees, be clear about why you want to use social media.
- Learn how to use the tools. Most social media platforms are not difficult to use. There will be people in your organisation that are already doing this stuff well, either professionally or personally. Get their help!
- Set some time aside. Social media can easily become a habit. You will find the times that it works for you to dip into your timeline. In the meantime, schedule a little diary time to focus on engaging.
- Read and share widely. Social media isn’t about sharing your own work or thoughts. It is, by its very name, social. So share what you read and learn. Be a resource. Engage with others. This is the key to growing your network – and yourself.
- Be you. Social media is a place to be authentic. You don’t need to share the details of your personal life, but showing a little of who you are will help make you real.
Above all, enjoy it! The time for social leadership, is now. Are you ready?
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