Social Leadership has been defined in different ways over the years. I’m thinking about Social Leadership in modern terms related to social media, and not so much using social skills to effectively lead your team, company etc. Both are equally important, and in this post I’m focusing on Social Leadership as related to social media. Interestingly, what makes a successful social leader in the classical sense also makes a successful social leader in the social media sense.
I really like this observation provided by Julian Stodd, the founder of his own agency called Sea Salt, an agency that focuses on social engagements. Julian says:
“Social Leadership isn’t an optional extra: it’s a method and mindset for engaging in communities and deploying the power of your organisation that liberates INNOVATION and creativity. Organisations that lack this power will feel increasingly less relevant in the Social Age.”
Companies today need to be social leaders and it starts with the C-suite. The CEO is key to putting a company into a social leadership position. Social leadership is both external and internal. It’s how you create internal brand advocates and how you generate engagement with your external audience.
So what can you do? First, if you are the CEO, embrace the age of online social communication, and use it to your benefit. Make sure your employees (your internal community) feel free to use online tools to collaborate with one another. And encourage them to do so. Employees aren’t always physically in the same location. To ensure idea generation and keep employees engaged with one another, they need to communicate.
You yourself can engage with your employees more easily than ever before by using these tools. Help everyone feel like they are a part of your company’s journey. If they feel a part of the ‘big’ team and feel like their ideas matter, it will spill-over into their external social media. And then they’ll become employee advocates, helping you achieve success with their peers.
And that’s the second big thing you should do. Make sure your company is using social media to its fullest potential. You should have webcasts talking about things that are important to your customers and you should invite conversation. Be open to what your customers are saying in social media and explore the opportunities and issues that are being uncovered. This will help your company in so many ways, especially as you transform your customers into brand advocates.