How can bosses become social media-savvy?

Don’t fear being in the spotlight. Social media can amplify your influence
Don’t let fear of criticism stop you from speaking out online.
Chief executives who use social media can boost their company’s reputation, better connect with employees, and establish a media profile, according to a recent report by Weber Shandwick. But while most companies now have a corporate social media presence, bosses have been slower in adopting these tools. Fewer than 30 chief executives of the companies listed on the FTSE 100, the Nasdaq 100 and the Dow Jones 30 have a personal Twitter account, for example, and fewer than 20 of them use it actively, according to Socialbro.
Some leaders will see the benefits of building an online personal brand. But others may worry that the effort isn’t really worth it, or fear criticism. With the right mindset, however, executives can ensure that online communications play in their favour.

EMBRACE CRITICISM

We all know social media is a risky and fast-moving conversation that nobody can control. But business leaders should develop a thick skin. Just don’t take criticism personally and think of social media as “an opportunity to raise the discourse, focus on meaningful ideas, and draw attention to worthy people and causes,” market strategist Dorie Clark wrote in Harvard Business Review.

SHARE YOUR EXPERTISE

You can also use digital tools to gain more influence. To do this, it is important to cultivate true knowledge about a specific subject matter, says Clark. Whether it’s Richard Branson talking about leadership and entrepreneurship, or venture capitalist Marc Andreessen discussing business and technology, they have managed to dominate the subject they’re talking about.
Make sure you engage with your readers and cultivate an online entourage. As you create content and more people are exposed to your insights, you can become a truly recognised expert, “one who doesn’t need to shout from the rooftops, because others are doing it for you,” as Clark says.

HUMANISE YOUR BRAND

To use social media as a true leadership tool, it’s important that you go beyond merely setting up a Twitter or LinkedIn account and updating it regularly. Instead, the most effective leaders are conversational on a broad range of topics. Apple’s boss Tim Cook, for example, promotes his firm’s vision and product announcements, but he also cheers on his favourite athletes and sport teams, and shares his support for causes like Earth Day and his admiration for other people, as he did after musician BB King’s recent passing.
As BRANDfog’s founder Ann Charles told Fast Company, “when chief executives express opinions on issues they care about, it makes them more accessible as human beings. Having the courage to reveal personal values and take political positions builds trust, and strengthens the leadership of the individual as well as the brand.”

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