Leadership and the Social Media Frenzy

Wrote this a few years ago, regarding leadership and the social media frenzy, and it still has relevance today.

I'm all-in on the trends created by social media.  This is natural because of my involvement (passion and revenue) in it.  Lois Kelly reminds us though, of how some elements are timeless-leadership and change.  You can read her post here.

If were a poor leader before the social media frenzy, then you're probably still a poor leader.  The way that changes is when you do something relating to your heart.  Anything less is a waste of time, and you don't have as much of that as you think.

I am encouraged by quality leaders who went into the social media arena strong, but are now stronger for the tools (Twitter, blogs, etc.) found there.

Which category do you fall into?  The answer will be an awakening-either way.

The Power of Micro-Blogging

I use Twitter daily (look for me under “Epic Living”).  One of the people who follows me asked my thoughts on micro-blogging in the corporate arena.  I wanted give my thoughts around that and why you should embrace it as well.

First, micro-blogging is a cool way of giving your “fans” and idea of what you’re doing on a micro level-no pun intended:-).  On Twitter you have 140 words or less to do that.  You can click here to learn what I wrote there this morning.

So what about corporations/businesses using a tool like Twitter?  I think it would be a tremendous tool to communicate and to connect.  Imagine your company provides a piece of hardware for the iPhone.  Your CEO just got back from a conference where he met with Steve Jobs.  Steve told your CEO how pleased Apple was with your company’s service levels.  As an employee would you like to see a micro-post like the following?

    “Everyone, just had a conversation with Steve Jobs.  He’s amped about our service levels.  More to come.”

That kind of communication not only encourages and engages, but gives real-time information.  It’s better than email and IM, because in places like Twitter, you are in a community that has a look and feel of community.  And if you haven’t already noticed, people crave community.

You might say why not just send an email?  But at the same time someone could have said to Google, why not just stick to search.  Great tools are created when you go into paths not yet worn.  I guess that’s why they call it innovation.

Here are some thoughts on how micro-blogging could help an organization:

  • Community would/could be built and cemented-with customers and employees.
  • Organizations would see engagement rise-significantly.
  • Organizations would become more fluid and less rigid.
  • Courage would be found, because you’d have to take on HR and Legal.
  • Customers would have a compelling story to follow.
  • Customers would become more loyal.
  • Money follows those who do something engaging.

The Value in Your Organization’s Social Network

Social networks are not new.  The explosive growth of external social networks is rather breathtaking.  There's more going on than a business plan though.  Social networks reveal a lot about an organizations employee base. 

It's smart business to do what Bank of America and Whole Foods have done with their customers by creating an online community specific to their brand.  But more should do it internally.  Losing a customer because you were not connecting through a blog is one thing (loss of revenue, cost of acquiring a new customer).  It's even more frightening when it's an employee.   

The alarming part, for some organizations is when the discovery is made around their own social network.  I mean the employee base.  There are a number of companies that think social networking is translated into LinkedIn, Twitter or Digg.  But as great as those tools are, they're not as powerful as your organization's own internal social network.

Some might say; "we don't need to have an intranet site for social netowking."  You have a community and it's ebbing and flowing before your very eyes, whether you know it or not. Could be organizaed or could be fragmented.  My friends over at Webbed Marketing specialize in building online communities, but they can't create what your leadership can't see-vision.

The take-away is; your people crave community.  And they'll find a way to connect.  The question is whether you (the organization) want to be out front in providing the path.

Why I Write-Updated

Thought it was important to update this post.  Originally written in 2008, it's a daily reminder that trust is important in words-written or spoken.

"I have never thought of writing for reputation and honor.  What I have in my heart must come out, that is why I compose."

                              -Ludwig Von Beethoven

You may not need this post, but I'm going to proceed anyway.  In the blogging world many talk about how to increase subscribers, increase hits/page views, or how to monetize the blog itself.  Each of those efforts have merit.  But why should someone who blogs want results like an increase in subscribers?  I think many of us in the blogosphere have missed something in our motivations.

In a celebrity obsessed culture it is easy to get carried away by attention and notoriety.  We forget what an authentic following means versus momentary infatuation.  You could have a thousand subscribers, but does that really mean that something is being flipped?  I don't think so.  In my last days in corporate America I had a number of people who were "subscribers."  Funny thing though, when I was escorted out my subscriber list fell dramatically.  Did my ideas change?  Did my expertise diminish?  No, to all of those things and more.  But my cache did.

So when I write (books, columns or blog posts) I make sure it comes from my heart.  That way I can sleep at night knowing I didn't write in order to make a sale for a sale's sake.  Believe me I had enough posing and posturing in corporate America to last me two lifetimes.  No sense in resurrecting those tired positions for the sake of numbers.  Besides, I really want change to be my partner.

If you're writing/communicating through a blog or some other portal, give people authentic content.