In today’s digital age, social media is an important business tool and communication channel, presenting leaders with both possibility and risk. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn provide corporate leaders with the opportunity to form personalised connections with clients, create a community of interest and promote their organization, business or brand. Such visible platforms create digital footprints and can leave leaders more vulnerable than ever with more room for reputational damage. A reputation can be shattered in seconds online, whether you are subjected to defamation or it is self-inflicted by misusing social media, learning how to navigate the complexities of each platform will future-proof your personal, professional and organisation’s reputation.

Here are our top 5 tips for effective leadership on social media:

1. Know your audience to build your network

Social media has the power to reveal the humane, genuine and authentic aspects of organization’s and their leaders, a tool that traditional forms of marketing and communication cannot. Leaders who actively post and engage with social media can effectively widen their organization’s audience and distribute content in an instantaneous, quick and easily digestible way. To do so, it is crucial for leaders to be aware of their target audience and build a following of people and businesses that are interested in their line of work, and create content accordingly. Building engagement with like-minded individuals and corporations can help boost your following and spread word of mouth about you and your organisation to effectively bolster your business.

2. Keep internal and external stakeholders informed

Take advantage of social media as a highly effective form of advertising for your brand and organisation by keeping your followers informed of upcoming news, events and opportunities. Ensure you are posting frequently with a consistent schedule to remain relevant and uploading content on days and times that will facilitate the most engagement. Another important aspect of effective social media leadership is being selective with which platforms you use and tailor your content to your target audiences, taking into account factors such as age, gender, interests and culture.

3. Build a professional and consistent brand

On social media, appearances are important, and people are quick to form opinions of you and your business based on your overall brand aesthetic. To build your following, maintaining a sleek, professional media design, consistent post schedule, and coherent key messages for your brand across multiple social media channels is crucial. Consider reaching out to PR specialists and designers to help establish a polished design and effective visual social media marketing strategies.

4. Be mindful of your activity, even on personal accounts.

The personal activity of leaders on social media is magnified, with millions of people watching, a like button very quickly turns into a share button. It’s rather alarming watching Trump’s tweets unfold- from mocking the leader of North Korea to verbally attacking Fox News Journalist Meghan McCain, the president has become notorious for his tweeting activity. Ex-President Obama’s twitter account is also heavily monitored and in 2016 he was found to be following numerous adult movie stars. People often dig deep into the archives of public figure’s social media history in the hopes of uncovering inappropriate material that can be used as a tool for defamation. Steer clear of commenting on controversial topics or endorsing controversial individuals that could tarnish your brand. As a leader, you have a responsibility to maintain a professional reputation and therefore posts, likes, shares and followings need to be closely watched and filtered.

5. Use your platform to spread positivity and make an impact

Set you and your organisation apart by drawing light to important, engaging and unique issues and ideas. Effective storytelling works wonders for drawing people in and keeping them wanting more. Our screens are often saturated with an abundance of content and it is easy to be drowned out by a sea of competitors, so it is essential to set yourself apart with a unique voice and brand message.

Jacinta Schofield