[November 16, 2019] When you’re asked to describe what’s needed to be an effective leader, you tend to cite skills like strong communication, efficiency at delegation, the ability to recognize achievements, and the like. What you normally wouldn’t include on the list is “skilled at social media”. However, social media is an undeniably integral part of our lives.
Out of the 7.63 billion people in the world in 2018, 2.26 billion were recorded by Our World in Data as active Facebook users – that’s around 30 percent (or almost a third) of the entire global population, all using social media on a monthly basis. Other popular platforms include YouTube with 1.9 billion, Instagram with 1 billion, and Twitter with 329.5 million.
In the right hands, social media can be a valuable tool that can strengthen credibility and build brands from the ground up by reaching a worldwide network. Having no social media presence means zero audience engagement, which is a waste of both time and money for leaders and their companies. So, how can you use social media to your advantage?
One major asset of social media is its ability to widely project your thoughts and company ideals. Our guest post on the ‘Importance of Leadership and Management Skills for Growth of Business’ talks about how critical managers with excellent leadership and management skills are to achieving business goals, and how managers need to possess a highly specific skill set to be effective leaders. For instance, leaders can improve employee engagement by sharing their knowledge, life experience, and individual team member achievements.
A 2011 study by Khan & Khan on professional social media use found that it produced “better communication, stronger relationships, and engagement between the management, leaders, and employees.” Furthermore, you can contribute to your company’s stellar reputation by personally responding to questions and concerns on a public platform. Social media strongly affects your brand perception, and it’s up to you to determine the image you want to create.
Social media can also be used to address a burgeoning problem introduced by our increasingly connected world: managing remote workers. According to a 2017 telecommuting report by FlexJobs, the number of US employees who “worked from home at least half of the time” grew by 115% in twelve years, from 1.8 million employees in 2005 to 3.9 million in 2017.
A difficult aspect of remote work is consistent communication across companies. Social media solves this by enabling you to quickly and easily interact with employees across all countries, time zones, and demographics. Maryville University reports that tech-driven employee training methods have introduced a new need for leaders skilled in social media and e-learning, especially with the growing market for remote workers. Moreover, the founder of Digital-Tutors found that employees who displayed a strong proficiency in social media use also excelled in other areas, such as accountability, clear communication skills, and the ability to listen to others. Not only are these skills vital for social media success, but also crucial tools for good leadership.
From these examples, it is easy to see how the skills you gain in using social media can often translate into good leadership. Two key examples that we covered are fostering good relationships and improving communication skills. By embracing the use of social media, you and your employees can start developing these abilities in no time, leading your company to a better and brighter future.