Over the years, I have personally grown a loyal and dedicated following on various social media channels — one that I truly cherish, appreciate and value. Over the last 10 years, I have used social media to help advance and grow professional relationships that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in nonprofit revenue and in-kind services and have garnered tens of millions of impressions and views on content from our group, Beneath the Waves. And I’ve done it all without hiring a formal PR team.
I’ve also seen people, especially emerging leaders, use these tools improperly with disastrous personal and professional consequences. Thus, I was inspired to create a short guide to help leaders of organizations of all shapes and sizes grow their brands on social media.
Focus On High Value
Share your victories, and celebrate them on social media. You and your team deserve it. However, be picky and use good judgment to share wins with the highest value. Paring down what to post can be hard for aspirational doers and productive individuals who may have multiple high-value pieces to share each week. Major news stories, press and key outputs are items I would consider high value. The majority of your posts should be high value since they communicate a sense of forward momentum and progress.
You Are Not A God
Over-posting personal wins can come off as self-important and potentially aggravate people. Humble-bragging is real and driven only by personal ego. I’ve committed this crime in the past, and a family member actually called me out on it.
By sharing every story you are quoted or mentioned in, you are diluting your value and can come off as self-important. People can also see through disingenuous posts. I can think of at least a few people in the conservation space who start almost every post with the tired and now meaningless, “I’m humbled and honored…” Don’t be that person.
Diversity Always Wins
Diversify your content. Sharing social media posts is like running a restaurant. Some people will come for the same thing over and over again, so you need to be really good at serving and retaining them. But the key is to keep bringing in new customers (or followers). A great way to do that is with exciting new items and offerings, so mix it up.
However, there is value in specializing — doing one thing really well and serving that up over and over (superfans will love it). But in my opinion, the most effective leaders are always looking for ways to innovate their platforms and brand vision. I believe that if you don’t evolve and innovate, you become noise and will die a slow marketing death while the next person in line takes your place. I think this ethic should be applied to social media.
Complaining Is Ugly
Complaining is a surefire way to lose support. Whereas airing your issues out to dry might feel good in the short-term and appease a small portion of your followers, talking smack about other groups or people really just looks bad.
Ask yourself, “If my greatest mentor or dream partner saw this, what would they think about me?” I have dealt with haters and detractors over the years but have always resisted the urge to complain about them. The greats don’t complain, and neither should you. Resist your own ego, and take the high road. It will serve you well!
Share The Love
You are likely passionate and love what you do — it’s why you’ve gotten to where you are professionally. Treat social media as a way to communicate your passion and motivation to move forward and make the world a better place. In the end, this is what most people connect with, and it will help your social media presence reflect your own trajectory and drive to succeed.
If done right, social media can be your biggest asset as a leader. Diverse, thoughtful and engaging content can lead to tangible quantitative outcomes, such as funding and partnerships, while adding numerous intangibles to your digital brand (awareness, always being on people’s radar and new friendships). Most weeks, I try to share one to two pieces of high-value content from my professional world early in the week and sprinkle one lighter, more lifestyle-type post toward the end of the week.
Does it work? Here are two ways to tell: 1) People recall what you’ve been up to when you see them at a cocktail party. This is proof that your strategy is connecting with people. And 2) people you haven’t spoken to in months or years come out of the social media shadows to reconnect with you and engage. In addition to expanding your social network, you never know what great things could come from interactions like these. In the end, you can run your social platforms however you like, but I think these points can truly help business leaders grow their brands.