3 Keys to Social Media Leadership Success (Plus Why 99% of Social Media Advice is Dangerous)

Social media is arguably the most powerful tool available right now for anyone who wants to get out there, get their message heard, and do all the things they dream about.

And yet, 99.9% of what most people post gets ignored, wasting a tremendous amount of time.

The people who get heard and responded to, think about and approach social media differently.

There are three stages of social media influence: Social Proof, Social Leadership and Social Profits.

I've taught Social Proof, initially building your social media presence to the point where your audience is willing to pay attention to you, in a video training course and special report available by request. 

Today, in this article, 3 Keys to Social Media Leadership Success:

1. First, Conversation.

“All markets are conversations.  Markets consist of human beings.  Conversations among humans beings sound human.  They are conducted in a human voice.  Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments, or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.  People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.” — The Cluetrain Manifesto

Listen to the conversations around you…

Now, scroll through your Twitter or Facebook timeline.

Hear the difference?

There are conversations happening all around you and in social media, conversations that you can contribute to in meaningful ways.  The secret to being heard is to listen and enter the conversation as a helpful “human.”

Begin by asking yourself a series of questions:

What conversation do I participate in?  Is it entrepreneurship, productivity, leadership, career, dating, a hobby or special interest?

What does my unique voice and point of view bring to the conversation?

What are the hot topics everyone is talking, and/or asking about?  How can I contribute and help in ways that are related to what I have to offer but not about my products and services?

This is the first key to social media leadership success: entering the marketplace with conversational intent.

Remember, social media not about keeping your timeline filled, it’s about cutting through the clutter with a helpful, human voice that can be heard by the people who are listening for you and what you have to offer.

2. Second, Culture.

Conventionally the word culture is used to refer to the attitudes and behavior characteristics of a particular social group.  It also means in the context of biology, creating an environment that's suitable for growth.

Both of these definitions are useful when it comes to understanding and creating culture in social media.

Twitter/Facebook Nation

It’s useful to think about Twitter and Facebook as a nation.  Within each of these nations, there are naturally existing relationships and conversations, forming and happening around a variety of topics, interests, causes, etc.  Most of these are already existing relationships and conversations extended into social media.

Bullhorn versus Walkie-Talkie

99.9% of people enter Twitter and Facebook with a bullhorn versus a walkie-talkie.  They’re shouting into the crowd, hoping to be heard.  What people are listening for is the human voice in the walkie-talkie that guides them out of the chaos and into clarity.

What People Buy (And When)

You’ve likely heard me say, people buy direction, relationship and solutions.  Well, people are only interested in your solutions after they receive helpful direction and have a certain level of relationship with you.

I recently read an article by Guy Kawasaki, “How I Manage My Social Media Presence.”

It’s a wonderful article with many helpful insights.

The trouble is, in my experience and observation, what he and other gurus don't tell you.

Consider what he does on Twitter:  “I attribute this success to providing a lot of interesting links that people retweet,” Kawasaki writes.  “These retweets expose me to many people who then follow me.”

This is a valid strategy and an important lesson for you to keep in mind: post content that makes others look like a hero when they pass it on.

Next, he explains the five sources that feed his Twitter account, hopykaw.alltop.com, repurposed posts, repurposed Facebook posts, comments and responses, and promotional tweets.  Again, something very useful to notice and learn: he doesn’t just link his accounts and automatically post the exact same message across all social media.

Now, here's the thing he and others don’t tell you: YOU can’t do what you see Guy and most of the other people you look up to online doing when you're first starting out.  Guy was already known by a lot of people before he started using Twitter.  Most of his initial audience followed him online.  They already knew, liked and trusted him.

I just explained to you why 99% of social media advice is dangerous.

Listen, there's a lot of helpful information out there, but the wisdom on how to apply it based on where you are right now in your own platform and audience development is almost non-existent.  When you're starting from scratch, you must do something different that the gurus don't tell you.  It's not intentional, it's just that most gurus don't think from a “beginner” point-of-view.

The secret, when you’re in the initial stages of growing your audience, is to create a “place” in the context of your social media account that is different… a place where a helpful and human voice is present… a place where there's an evident culture that attracts and engages your kind of people.

If you’re already famous like Guy, your persona brings the audience to whatever platform you join.  But when you’re not yet well known, your audiences builds from the faithful few with whom you develop a relationship.  They spread you and bring others.

After you build up an initial following and implement “culture,” the advice from Guy and other social media gurus can be golden.

Creating Culture in Social Media 101

Now, let’s talk about creating culture in social media for beginners:

(1) First, identify the biggest authentic promise or benefit you can deliver on in the marketplace.

This is the first step in Authentic Platform™.

What you're going for here is the big reason for people to give you money.  The big reason to give you money is not for your products and services.  The big reason to give you money is for what your products and services do for them.

Let me explain:

What's the benefit of a drill?  Most people answer, “the hole.”  The Brand Essence of the drill is NOT the hole, it's the use of the hole.  For example, hanging a picture.  This is a very important distinction that most people never get to on their own.

(2) Second, decide what a person must believe, value, “get,” know, understand and learn to experience the big benefit you have to offer.

These are the ideas, lessons, strategies, stories, tools and systems that your tribe, community and conversations organize around.  They are the distinguishing elements make up and contribute to your culture, and what makes your tribe, community and conversation unique.

(3) Third, choose and share content, and participate in conversations that demonstrate and advance your culture.

Every attitude, post, interaction or “tradition” you communicate in social media is what becomes the culture that surrounds you.  It’s what attracts certain kinds of people and followers into the conversation with you, what drives engagement and what people spread about you.

The Importance of Staying In Character

Everything you say and do either supports and advances your big promise and benefit conversation and culture or it doesn’t.  It’s critical to understand this and “stay in character” in social media if you want to keep people’s attention and grow your audience.  Posting something out of character and it can potentially harm what you’ve built.

The culture you create is an extension of you.

Culture is not about creating something false or being what you think you need to be publicly to get an audience.  It’s about bringing your beliefs, values, life and lessons to the table in an attractive way.  The best content is from the observations, insights, lessons and stories found in your daily life.  Being human and heard in social media is about valuing and sharing these in a way that helps and encourages others.

3. Third, Community.

Treat the people you’re connected with in social media as your community, tribe and family.

Provide leadership.  Act like the mayor, the host of the party.  Actively look for ways to affirm the people who follow you, reach out when you hear or see a need, and connect people with one another.

For example, I created and shared a simple checklist on Twitter of what I do and recommend when people follow.  It's not just a good tip, it's leadership and content that's valued by people in my community.

Obviously, this is not what most people do.  Most let the robot do the work so you get these weird direct messages or the automatic posts from their social media software.

Social media leadership is taking the time to care, craft experience and communicate in ways that connect.  This for me is what it means to be helpful and human.  Follow me on Twitter
to see more examples of what I do.

Conversation, culture and community, three mental shifts for social media leadership.

Useful?  If you found any value in this article, it would mean a lot to me if you’d share it with others.  If you want to get clear about your Authentic Platform so you get more clients using social media, it begins with a simple, easy conversation: Click here to schedule an Initial Strategy Session by telephone or video chat (use Option #1).

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