Social Media and You (the Leader): Part 1

Have you received a “friend request” from an employee on Facebook?  Is a colleague “following you” on Twitter?  Has a client or vendor invited you to “Join Them” on Linkedin?  These are the realities of today’s social media age and they aren’t going away any time soon.  Being a leader today is much more highly visible than ever before.

I’d like to explore this topic over a few posts and get your feedback on the social media age and how it impacts you as a leader.  So, let’s get started.

About a decade and a half ago, we were talking about the rise of 24 hour multi-media.  Images of newsworthy (and some not-so-newsworthy) events were plastered continuously all over television and the evolving web.  However, we as the common bystander were just that.  Mere voyeurs to a world that was happening around us.  And for many, there was comfort in that anonymity.

Enter social media and mobile technology.

Social media (especially that enabled by mobile technology) has taken 24 hour multi-media to a whole new and very personal height.  At any second in the day, I can catch up on what the guy that sat 4 seats behind me in my high school algebra class (20-ish years ago) had for lunch today and what he thought about it.  I can also check on where my sister last “checked in”, what my children saying about me, and that my college roommate still likes New Kids on the Block.  Depending upon how I’ve used or opened myself up in social media, I may also know what my employees, co-workers, and boss are doing and think.

That’s an awful lot of information.  And some quite personal information.  AND in many cases….TMI.

The great majority of those over the age of 13 today are involved in or have used some type of social media.  Facebook (founded in 2004) boasts over 750M users worldwide, Twitter has over 200M members, and Linkedin has over 100M members.  And that’s just the big three.  Add in Digg, Foursquare, My Space, etc. and the numbers and frequency of use becomes staggering.  AND THEN you add in the new Google+ platform and the competitive social landscape really heats up dramatically.  All of the metrics I’ve seen only show continued rapid growth for social media usage.

So why the long set up?

It’s to underscore the importance that social media is playing in our world today.  The same world that we have to be leaders in.  Our environment is changing and we need to adapt to it.

It begs the question, “How do we as leaders use social media in our personal and business lives?

I tried to do some research on this topic, but found that there were many many differing opinions.  And quite honestly, it really depends on you, what you want to accomplish, and how disciplined you are.  So, I don’t think there are any right or wrong answers when it comes to “should you or shouldn’t you” use social media.

But, here’s four things to consider:

  1. Social media is a tool.  In fact, it can be a very powerful tool.  Powerful good and powerful bad.  You can use it to communicate, network, share, and interact with just about anyone you choose only at the risk of exposing your thoughts to others.  I have friends who are very savvy that use it to drive their businesses by creating a following.  I have friends that use it merely as a social platform for friends and family.  I also have friends that (in my opinion) make idiots of  themselves in a “public place” (which leads to the next point).
  2. Social media is public.  Regardless of how private you set your privacy settings, posting things to your “wall” can (and may) become public information.  I cringe when I see people trash others on Facebook or use Twitter to carry out a barrage of insults on someone who has done them wrong.  Folks, they call it “re-tweeting” for a reason and your private tirade can become a public spectacle in about 3 seconds anymore.  Further, the word “public” means just that.  It could include your boss, co-workers, employees, a job recruiter, client, and so on even if you aren’t “friends” with them on that social platform.
  3. Social media is in writing.  And photos.  And videos.  These are all mediums that can be copied, reproduced, and shared quickly.  If you don’t want other people to know, then don’t write about it.  If you’re concerned that people will judge you for attending that party last Saturday night, then don’t post a picture of yourself dancing on a table top while holding a bottle of your favorite adult beverage.  Writing, posting, and uploading content in some cases can create a permanent record, so be mindful of what you’re putting in that permanent record.
  4. Social media is immediate.  This one kills me.  On some platforms, the second you hit send it’s out there.  The second you tweet it, post it, or digg it – others will know.  Don’t expect it to be any different.  And since a large portion of people access social media through mobile phones (that they carry with them 24/7), the chances that they will see your information sooner, rather than later, is very likely.
We’ll jump in to some tips for navigating the social media mindfield and how employees play in to that mix in coming posts.
So, what’s your stance?  How do you use social media today?  Leave a comment and share!

4 Responses to Social Media and You (the Leader): Part 1

  1. Jon says:

    I see social media as a drug, and there’s a lot of folks addicted to it. It can take up copious amounts of time, and interfer with work and family. You have to be wise in how you use it, because perceptions can be drawn from what you post… And it will follow you (or haunt you) for all the days of your life!

    I only use LinkedIn. It’s a great way to keep up with happenings, trends, etc. in the world I work in. I don’t have time to do much else.

    • Jason says:

      Great point Jon. The key words there were “be wise”. Social media should probably be like anything else, taken/used in moderation. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! -J

  2. Pingback: 5 Suggestions for Avoiding Social Media Blunders « The Leader's Locker

  3. Pingback: 7 Tips for Interacting with Employees on Social Media « The Leader's Locker

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