Without question, the world of work today runs on social media in some shape or form. It has changed the nature of work, play, friendship, commerce, romance — the list goes on and on. Where to begin?
For leaders, social media is an extraordinary tool. It enables new levels of communication and community. It establishes an immediate connection between a leader and people. It runs in real time. And it creates a dialogue and a forum that can lead to increased productivity, unity, and profits.
And yet an astonishing 70-80 percent of leaders aren’t even on social media. That’s like playing tennis with one arm tied behind your back: it puts you at distinct disadvantage (understatement). And too many leaders who are on social media pay it lip service, and use only a fraction of its potential.
The good news is that with a little practice everyone can master this exciting new discipline.
Here are 7 ideas to get you going.
1) Be Yourself. You can’t create a social media persona that isn’t true to you. It will simply be impossible to sustain, and it won’t feel genuine to your colleagues and employees. So find a voice that is comfortable, honest, and true. Be open and transparent. Be yourself, but be your best self. Remember: humor is a priceless tool.
2) Stay On Message. You can’t be all things to all people, and you don’t want to dilute your overarching message by going on tangents that you cannot put your heart behind. People need to know that when they read your posts, they will be getting something of value that will educate, inspire or energize them.
3) Put Quality Over Quantity. We all have social media favs whose posts we just can’t wait to read, because we know we’ll learn something. Then are those who post about what they had for lunch. Make sure every post is worthwhile. Don’t worry about not posting for a couple of days, better a short break than a ceaseless stream of ho-hum “I’m so great” posts.
4) Start A Real Dialogue. There are few things more exciting than a social media site that really engages employees in a forum that sparks insights and ideas. One thought leads to another and soon everyone is contributing and a sense of ownership takes hold. Encourage this outcome by asking questions, and soliciting ideas and input from the community.
5) Invest In Your Site/Social Media Presence. We’ve all seen tired looking sites, or sites that are slow and cumbersome to navigate or are not mobile friendly. They’re workplace culture killers. We all love speed and ease these days, and sites that are clean, uncluttered and operate smoothly are much more apt to engage users.
6) Think Before You Post. Know what you’re trying to accomplish. Vet your post for anything that is poorly written, or might be confusing or offensive. Like all powerful tools, social media can go very wrong. Be spontaneous, open and reactive, but always…..>>>
7) Have Big Fun. Sounds so trite, doesn’t it? Well, trite or not, the fact is that stellar talent and effective leaders love what they do. The line between work and play blurs for them. They are having a blast and it’s reflected in their success.
Remember: social media is not some amorphous behemoth, although it can seem that way to those uncomfortable or unfamiliar with it. Think of social media not as something you have to conquer, but as your partner and ally in the quest for breakthrough performance.
A version of this post was first published on Forbes.