Monday, August 27, 2012

3 Elements to Becoming a Social Leader

Transition into a Social Leader

Leaders in Social Organizations view social platforms as critical communications and branding tools.  When used properly, they are effective, inexpensive, timely and sincere methods of communication; reaching staff, members, clients, partners, volunteers and key stakeholders.   In just the last few years consumers and staff expect to hear from leaders in a more transparent and less formal manner.  To expect Leaders who have successfully communicated in one fashion to flip to a new relatively unproven method immediately is not realistic.  However, the transition approach I recommend is realistic.  Start by extending your traditional communications online, next extend your public forums online, and finally start sharing and exchanging information in the areas in which you are an expert. All you do should naturally support your organization’s goals.

3 Elements of a Social Leader

Before a traditional Leader will start their transition into a Social Leader three questions are always asked, (i) what is the Leader’s Social Role (ii) how often should a Leader Post, (iii) and what should they Post?  To start the transition the answer to the Leader’s Role is that it mirrors their current public communication’s role. Second, they should Post as often as they are scheduled to communicate to their staff, members, clients, partners, volunteers or key stakeholders.  Most Leaders traditionally are scheduled make specific public announcements weekly, monthly or quarterly.   As well, periodically Leaders are scheduled for open dialogues with their Organization’s public, at these times, the Social Leader can add various online aspects to their public meetings.  Finally start to transition into a Social Leader start by using Social Platforms as an extension of the Leader’s existing Communication’s plan.  The Social Platforms will not likely replace their current communications’ vehicles unless all of their staff, members, clients, partners, volunteers or key stakeholders are active Social Media users. Social Media communications will provide insights and the ability measure the impact and reach of the Social Leader’s messages.

Many Leaders I have spoken with are under the impression that if they start engaging in with Social Media, they’ll have to spend many precious hours daily; that’s not the case.  When the Leader of a Community or a larger Organization speaks, writes, or posts, it should resonate.   Their Organization’s regular Social Channels should share their Leader’s Posts with their followers, as well as take up the duties of listening for and answering questions on behalf of their organization.  Not unlike when a Leader of a company is quoted in a Press Release or an article, the public is asked to speak with the official company spokesperson for further information.

8 Benefits of a Social Leader

Brandfog’s, “2012 Social Media CEO & Leadership Survey”  had thirteen insightful conclusions, I have summarized the eight which focused on the impact of the Social Leader  
In summary, Social Leaders’ engagement outcomes include more sales, more trust, effective crisis management, a competitive advantage, and a more desirable place to work.   

1)      81% of respondents believe that CEOs who engage in social media are better equipped than their peers to lead companies in a web 2.0 world.
2)      Respondents believe that CEOs can use social media channels to improve engagement with multiple stakeholders across their organizations.  Building better connections with customers topped the list at 89.3%, but engagement with employees (84.7%) and investors (66.3%) also came in very strong.
3)      78% cited Better Communication and 71% stated Improved Brand Image as the biggest positive benefits.
4)      82% of respondents were more likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership team engage with social media.
5)      77% of respondents were more likely or much more likely to buy from a company whose values and mission are defined through CEO and executive leadership participation on social media.
6)      93% of respondents believe that CEO engagement in social media helps communicate company values, shape a company’s reputation, and grow and evolve corporate leadership in times of crisis. 
7)      94% said that CEOs and an organization’s executive leadership team enhance the brand image by participating on social media.
8)      78% of respondents would prefer to work for a company whose leadership is active on social media.
Brandfog’s concludes that the “next generation of business leaders will require new talents and a different set of skills to successfully grow their companies.  …in order to effectively lead a company, management competencies will have to be reinvented around a new set of principles including transparency, integrity, collaboration, and consistent communication with stakeholders about company vision, mission, and values through social media channels.” The BrandFog Survey 2012.

Beyond Traditional Communications

Leaders who start utilizing Social Media as one of their Communications’ vehicles should start with baby steps so they can sustain and continuously improve their efforts.  They need to ensure that their social communication’s staff has the Social Media training, listening and measurement tools they need so they can respond timely.  Benefits of the Social Leader are far too many to be ignored.   Much depends on how social of a Leader you are naturally, you cannot fake a Social personality, it must come naturally and be sincere, or the impact will be negative. 
Leaders are traditionally outstanding communicators.  Leaders are also experts in their industry, business, public relations, decision making, deal making, leading, and motivators.  When a Leader is ready to expand their Social content they start to look at what they naturally read or attend as possible content.   Their Posts must also, of course, help support their Organization’s online purposes and goals. 

Some topics beyond a Leaders’ traditional communications plans, include sharing industry articles, articles the Leader has authored themselves, papers their staff have written, photos or videos of their personal community involvement,  welcoming new hires, acknowledging staff and client achievements, opening of new departments, launching new products or services, interaction with clients,  services or products impact, and so much more!  It’s endless, but, the trick is to keep it in line with your Organizations’ online purpose and to keep it real. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sofie - I'm glad you posted this. I regularly include social media when I draw up a communications plan. And you're right - many corporate leaders are nervous about the time commitment they believe social media will take. Then, of course, once you get them to embrace it, you have the logistical issues: creating the resources to respond. That prevents what I call the "one-way stream". I think any good communications plan has to address the human resourcing issue that tags along with a social media presence. And the benefits, as you show in the survey, really do pay off in terms of reputation enhancement and sustained trust.