When it comes to social media, most businesses automatically go into marketing mode. A platform to promote, sell, advertise and raise awareness of what they do, the products or services they sell, and why you should buy them.
While that might be a suitable strategy for a brand, for people on social media, I think the approach should be different – especially if you’re a business owner, leader or manager. I expect your website, shop window, or sales brochure to try and sell to me. I also expect your Managing Director to promote the business, but in a different way altogether. Business leaders influence others by example (none more so than their own staff) and setting the tone for the company culture, ethics, and trust is achieved by what they post onto their LinkedIn and Twitter profiles (you can include TikTok too if you’re brave enough).
Here are my five suggestions for “non-salesy” content ideas anyone can use to build a better social presence, and increase your leadership credentials.
The 5 S’s
If you’ve read our recently published “Embrace the Space” book, you’ll know I like my acronyms, lists, frameworks, and aide-memoirs. My 5 S’s should be simple enough to remember and easy enough to adapt to suit your own style.
It’s not all about you (despite what McFly might tell you), and a good business leaders is always first to give a shout-out on their social channels. It might be praise for a member of the team who did a cracking job.. or mentioning a client or supplier and a project they have just completed or an industry award they’ve recently won. Showing gratitude for those around you, and championing other’s success stories speaks volumes as to the person you are, and the relationships you value.
The 2nd of our S’s is an easy content strategy as it doesn’t involve too much original creative thought! Simply by clicking the ‘Share’ or ‘Re-Tweet’ button on an existing social media post that caught your own attention, you quickly reinforce to your audience what’s important and share-worthy to you. It could be industry news, updates from key partner organisations, or just something that made you smile (being cautious to remember that not everyone’s humour is the same). Sharing valuable updates from others show your network that you’re ‘plugged in, switched on, and connected’ and always remember to add just a wee something on top from yourself – if nothing else, a short explanation of why you’re sharing it. Oh – and please make sure you’ve actually read the thing you’re sharing, otherwise it might come back and bite you (you’d be surprised)!
Our 3rd strategy is closely aligned to what you’ll have heard being called ‘thought leadership’. Having your say-so on something is essentially you having the self belief that what you think matters, and you’re happy to let others know it. It could be an opinion, a view on the industry, or even (with caution) your thoughts on political or social issues. Things which affect you, your business, your team, your customers, industry or the business world as a whole. While others around you are adding to the noise on social media shouting loudly trying to sell things, you’ll be positioning yourself head and shoulders above them by having your say on important things, said with authority, conviction and passion. Views which even if I disagree with them, I’ll be hard pushed not to respect you and your willingness to raise them, and express your concerns, opinions, and experiences. Many small business owners in particular are frightened to have their say-so. Don’t be – it could possibly be your best social media post given the engagement you might encourage, and don’t worry about negative comments or differences of opinion – managed well with courtesy and respect, the ongoing discussion could last for weeks.
Being a ‘shoulder to cry on’ on social media is about being there for others when they need you. Whether it’s employees who need some TLC (and have raised the issue themselves on public social channels), a local cause or charity that needs support, or even other competitor business in your industry – giving a social shoulder, and showing empathy, compassion, even anger at issues affecting others, and letting them know you’re there for them is a powerful statement. Given the state of the world right now, with all the uncertainty, anxiety, health issues, job losses and business challenges caused by COVID-19, the need for a shoulder is arguably more needed now than ever before. Even just raising awareness of someone else’s plight shows people the causes that matter to you, and by extension, your business values and culture.
Perhaps an obvious one to finish with – but more business leaders need to be more social. The clue is in the title – “social media” – meaning it’s full of people, being people, talking to other people. Be more social. Don’t be frightened (even on LinkedIn!) of revealing something personal about yourself. Sharing some details of you ‘outside work’, maybe even (God Forbid!) giving an insight into your family, friends, hobbies and passions. People do business with people, and giving current and prospective customers, staff, and partners a better understanding of who YOU really are is always a good thing (unless your hobbies include collecting navel fluff – apparently a thing – or you’ve just shared that video of you singing along with 90’s boyband 5ive – despite the abuse, I don’t regret it for a second! – You can Google it.)
The easy (and obvious) social media post is another “S” – The Sales Post. I’m not saying don’t sell on your social media profiles, but as the owner, leader or manager in your organisation, I urge you to mix it up with the other 5 S’s.
Challenge yourself – aim for each of the five S’s across your social media channels next week. Some will overlap – a “Shout Out” might also be a “Share”, or a “Shoulder” might cross into a “Social”.