Thursday, March 15, 2012

Over 7 Ways to be a Leader in Social Media

Many of us want to be leaders.

While it is true that most people hide from the spotlight, there are many people who really would like to be a leader, but they aren't really sure how to be one.

Within social media, I notice a big vacuum of leadership, much of which is one (1) of two (2) extremes:
  • Mr. Blaster: This can be a guy or a girl, but this person is always posting (blasting) new discussions or advertising something about himself (or herself).  This person probably posts often.  However, this person never responds to any comments within his or her posts, and he (or she) surely never makes a comment within another person's post.
  • Mr. Invisible: Probably, this person is not trying to be a leader.  This person is reading a lot of what is posted, but you never see this person.
For those people who WANT to become a leader on social media, it seems to me thatsocial media makes it pretty easy to act as a leader--therefore, it is almost as easy to become one...if you really want.

Each leader has his or her own ideas on how to become a leader, but here are some of my tips on how to be a leader in social media.

Over 7 Ways to be a Leader in Social Media
  1. Post Original Material
  2. Share Other People's Material
  3. Respond to Other People
  4. Endorse Other People
  5. Initiate Personal Discussion
  6. Show Gratitude
  7. Advertise Relevant Events
  8. Provide Reviews
  9. Have a True Mission--and Follow It
There are probably plenty of other great ideas on how to become a leader in social media, but these are things that I try to apply.

1. Post Original Material

Post your thoughts.

Many people seem to take variations of what other people have written and pass it on like it is their material.

I have even done this.  For instance, I might rehash instructions about how to complete something, even though the site might have instructions already.  I will try to put a simplified or clarified spin on those instructions, but these are not original thoughts.

However, when I read people entries about their analysis, these are fun to read.  More importantly, I read them.  They're thought provoking.

Regardless of the quality of material, leaders are finding reasons to share things they think will benefit other people.

Good leaders understand that people will get more help from something that is imperfect but helpful than the perfect thing that is never shared.  (I still struggle with this one, honestly.)

2. Share Other People's Material

Not only should you share YOUR material, but there are a lot of really cool things on the Internet.  Most likely, you've found something that will help other people.

Maybe they have seen what you shared, already.  That does not matter very much.  If you have good intentions, either you are validating that they found something worthwhile (Who isn't proud of when they find something more quickly than their leader?), or you are sharing something new and worthwhile with them.

When you share other people's material, you are seen as a valuable resource--a nice trait in a leader.

3. Respond to Other People

Most of all, good leaders listen.

On social media, this means that
  • you respond when people make comments on your post.
  • you make comments in other people's posts (when they deserve it)
  • you respond to people's comments that involve you (or something that interests you)
  • you respond to their messages to you (even if they are asking for things they should not)
People will lose excitement about following a leader who never responds to them.  What kind of leadership is that, anyway?

My buddy Mark Maupin puts it well when he reminds me that...

People want to be Known, Heard, and Appreciated.  Be THAT leader--one who responds to followers!

4. Endorse Other People

Find excuses to make other people look good, especially if they are part of your circle.

Not only is this a "nice" thing to do, but it is also very smart.  Stick with me on this one!

If a person is already doing something well, make sure to let other people know this.  Find ways to make it easy for people to understand how great this person is.

However, the REAL leader finds the person who is trying to grow.  The true leader finds ways to help THESE people (who are not as well known).

They might teach this person so that this person can become an expert.

Maybe this person is really good at one or two particular parts of something.  Parade those strengths to people who are listening to you.  Find excuses to have that person showcase these talents so that others can see and admire.

This is really smart, because when you help people who support you to become greater, your support will be greater--in quantity and quality.

It's no longer just a bunch of "bums" who pay attention to you.  You have leaders following you.

True leaders find reasons to endorse people who above their level and those who are aspiring to get to their level.  The more you endorse, the more you will become a force.  (Lame rhyme but a true statement!)

5. Initiate Personal Discussion

One of the nicest things about social media is that we can type a message one (1) time, and many different people can read our message.  That saves a lot of time, and social media is popular largely because of this.

However, this means that many of us are in the habit of leaving messages for the masses but neglecting individuals.

If we want to make an impression, we can leave people personalized messages.  Make sure that you have something to say, and make it about them--not you.

On Twitter, you can send a direct message (a "DM" as people on there refer to it).

On Facebook and LinkedIn, you can send a message to your Friends/Connections and to people within Groups you join.

You can send them a compliment on a clever point they made or something they did well.  You can ask them a question about something they wrote to the group or on their profile.

Make sure that you contact them about THEM--not you.

A good leader builds relationships--not uses people.

6. Show Gratitude

When people do things to help you that they really were not required to do, make them KNOW how much you appreciate them.  (Make sure that you DO appreciate them!  Nobody owes anybody anything--EVER!)

If someone offers you a tip--even one that you don't use--thank that person.

If someone DOES something for you, thank that person, and ask how you might be able to help them.  Most people are unprepared to answer this question; so you might have to offer something for them.  Better yet, if you know they'll appreciate something (and it does not cost you more money or time than what makes sense for you to spend right now), just do it for them.

Just make sure that you appreciate their effort and make sure they know that you feel that way.

Good leaders don't just expect things.  They appreciate them!

7. Advertise Relevant Events

If you are tied to an industry or an occupation, there are probably events happening in different parts of the world.  Even if you do not attend them all, you can provide a service for others by organizing a list of events in one location (your website, for instance :).

Finding events to list and share keeps you in the know, and people will see you as a person in the know.  Does that seem like a bad trait for a leader to have?

8. Provide Reviews

People like hearing or reading synopses of things.  That's why so many people read reviews.

YOU can write (or video record) a review.

There are many things that you can review:
  • Blog Posts
  • Blogs (Overall)
  • Websites
  • Companies
  • Industries
  • Trends
  • Advertisements
  • Books
  • Movies
  • Events
  • Music
  • Food
The list goes on.

When you give a review, you're not only letting people have a shortcut into evaluating something, but it also gives a glimpse of your personality--and your likes and dislikes.

9. Have a True Mission--and Follow It

This is the easiest...and the hardest one.  Many people seem to talk without having a message.

Personally, I find that it is toughest to write or talk about something...when I don't really have anything to say or any message that I want people to understand.

For me, my mission is to help people find ways to become more helpful and kinder toward each other.  This includes making people feel comfortable, and one of the biggest ways to make sure this happens is to do everything I can to make things clear.  I do not want to simply make things "possible to understand."  My goal is to make things "impossible to misunderstand."

I love taking people who think that something is impossibly hard and show them it's a lot easier than they thought.  Most importantly, I want them to know that they CAN do it or understand it.  It's okay not to know before you know.  Most people don't really get that, and I'm here to help them "get it."

It is really tough to lead people if you don't have a definite purpose.

What is YOUR mission?  Would people you know be surprised by it?  How about people you just met?

Summary: Ways to become a Leader in Social Media

Essentially, my overall advice can be summarized as that you can become a leader in social media by taking  initiative and by sharing and caring--not by simply blaring or hiding.

Most people are looking for good leaders.  Honestly, most of us can become one...pretty easily.  What is stopping YOU from being that leader for these people?

What other ideas do you have to become a leader in social media (or any other place)?  I'd love to learn them, and other readers will probably benefit from your ideas, too.

Like this post?  Other posts you might like are

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