Why leaders need social media

leadership and social mediaThere’s a great deal of buzz about social media in the business world – and for good reason. Marketing and communications professionals have made it de rigueur to tap into the popularity of social media networks to extend their brands into the digital world. But when it comes to executive use of social media, the field seems much more divided. Domo and CEO.com estimated that of the 500 leaders of the biggest companies in the US, 68% have no social media presence whatsoever. By leaving the social media management to marketers, these leaders are missing opportunities to connect with followers and expand their influence.

Here’s why social media should be part of the game plan when it comes to matters of leadership.

Social media expands perspective.

Social media isn’t simply a mechanism for broadcasting company news or personal opinion. Many individual perspectives coalesce to create a social network. Asking questions of followers and participating in online discussions helps leaders gain new perspectives. Executives who do utilize social media tend to stick to LinkedIn at a rate  greater than the general public, but increasing social participation beyond one network brings more heterogeneous insight and connects leaders to diverse groups.

Social media allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of industry trends and new research.

Participating digitally with like-minded professionals ties a leader into a broad network of resource-sharing. Having consistent access to relevant, curated articles about market and industry trends keeps leaders far ahead of peers who rely on just a few media outlets.

Social media connects your team.

Online social business tool Basecamp promises to help “wrangle people with different roles, responsibilities, and objectives toward to common goal.” Hosted in the cloud, Basecamp is a project management tool that helps managers and employees see exactly what’s happening with a given project. Its dashboard provides a snapshot of tasks and gives users – managers and employees – an opportunity to interact directly on the site. In addition to the real-time accountability it builds in, it also allows for real-time communication about projects, a concept that all but eliminates the need for private emails.

Social media inspires and motivates.

Hadyn Shaughnessy writes about top social media influencers in his contributing posts on Forbes.com. He believes stellar leadership is built firmly on relationships and that day-to-day operations of a business rely on a leader’s ability to connect, inspire, and mobilize employees. Leveraging social media is one way leaders are achieving that. But, he contends, passive consumers of social media – regardless of the number of followers – cannot be considered top influencers. Leaders who inspire are those who actively participate.

Social media builds relationships.

Among executives active on social media, the top benefit of maintaining “socialbility” is the direct access it provides to employees, media outlets, and the public. “Relationship building is one of the strongest skills sets related to leadership effectiveness,” says Jean Leslie, a researcher at the Center for Creative Leadership. Tying into social media networks allows leaders to establish connections with employees, building individual and collaborative relationships.

Leaders who embrace social media technologies are more agile and innovative; their companies are more likely to attract and retain top talent; and they tap more deeply into the ideas of their employees. It’s clear that there is value in social media, and for leaders looking to build the strongest brand for their company, it might not be just an option anymore.

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