5 Steps to Becoming a Social Media Leader #socialceo

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

This article is from guest blogger Michelle Carvill, Social Media Expert.

Thanks to the ever-changing digital landscape, leading a business in a digitally and socially connected world can be likened to a relentless game of space invaders, where regardless of how great a shot you are, spaceships continuously emerge.

Following my social media masterclass last week, I wanted to share some key points to help get you on track with your social media activity:

1. Figure out your ‘why’

You may already have absolute clarity on your ‘purpose’. Why you do what you do, why you lead the way you do, why you work for the organisation you do. This ‘guiding’ purpose drives you and keeps you motivated. I refer to this as you 'golden thread'. From a social media strategy perspective, your 'golden thread' (or purpose), steers your message, your content creation and who you tune in to and connect with. If you’re not clear, then I urge you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are your values, beliefs and passions - what really makes you tick?
  • Why would someone want to follow you?
  • How do you inspire others?
  • What cause or purpose do you champion?
  • What is your purpose for being social?

It’s quite a useful exercise to ask others to answer these questions about you too. Ask your peers, family members or friends. People whose opinion you trust. The outcomes will assist you with defining your personal brand, what you want to be known for and how you translate that across various media.

2. Understand how you ‘show up’

One quick way to evaluate your current ‘digital footprint’ is to take to your trusty smartphone – and simply, Google yourself. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do people find when they currently search for you?
  • Are you happy with what’s out there?
  • How recent are any articles? Are they from years ago – or right up to date?
  • Are there any elements that you feel are missing?
  • Are you the leading brand custodian?
  • Are you seen to be a thought leader – championing the big IDEA that matters to you, are you leading the conversation?
  • Is your digital footprint how you want it to be?

This short and simple exercise is often quite illuminating.

Of course, you ideally want to be visible where your audiences are – and as a 'connected leader', a key audience will be those you lead and inspire within your organisation.

Time to ponder just how visible you are you within your organisation. The same questions above can be applied internally as well as externally. Assess 'how you show up' internally - and what steps you are you taking to be visible and accessible to your internal audiences.

3. Listen before you engage

You have two ears, two eyes and just one mouth. On social media activity, be sure to use them in accordance.

Start with listening. My Smart Social Focus Model © – Plan, Listen, Analyse, Engage, Measure – focuses on listening well before engagement takes place.

Many people just dive in and start sharing. But that’s not smart and it’s not focused. Start with listening, and continue to listen.

Without exception, every one of the leaders I interviewed when I was writing Get Social - Social Media Strategy and Tactics for Leaders, told me that the ability to tune in and listen to customers, competition, partners, suppliers, influencers, thought leaders, investors etc – quickly and simply via social media, was gold. As I'm now interviewing leaders for my Get Social - Connect Leader Podcast, this fundamental message around listening continues to surface.

So, whether it’s running simple searches on the social networks or watching other accounts that inspire you, tracking keywords on Google Alerts or using more sophisticated listening and sentiment tools – tune in and start listening before you even think about engaging.

Listening in will help you steer your content too. You’ll understand what others are saying or asking. This can be a great start.

4. Plan your content – If you don’t plan for it to happen, then it won’t happen

As to content planning, this is a seriously meaty topic. A simple exercise is to map out on a sheet January – December and have a look at what’s happening in your world, spot opportunities for key content development, around key dates or events.

Connect with your 'golden thread' as that's really the key theme of your message.

Other content ideas related to the problems or challenges you're solving. Frequently asked questions or email themes you find yourself repeatedly sharing. Some of the best content that engages others is indeed when it is solving a problem.

Be sure to speak to your teams too, find out common issues that arise. If you have a front-line customer service team speak to them also, they are often an under-utilised goldmine of information.

The goal is to make content creation a habit. Sit down with your team, agency, PA or notebook, once a week and review your content plan, commitments and opportunities.

5. FTI – Beware of ‘failure to implement’

Failure to implement is a terrible disease. Despite learning about this many years ago, I still see it everywhere. Training courses, away days, planning sessions. I’ve even fallen prey to it myself.

Most ideas or plans fail thanks to FTI. It doesn’t matter how fired up you are, and how great the plans are, if you simply don’t take action and implement – things don’t happen.

Research shows us that if we’re held accountable to others, then we’re far more likely to implement. Therefore, be sure to share your plan and targets with a coach or colleague and plan regular check ins.

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