A question I often get asked from business people is ‘why do I need to bother with Twitter?’
What’s the point, they ask.
Maybe you are that leader, and maybe you have the same question. I’m busy enough as it is. I understand why the company has a presence on social media, but me?
If that is you, you might want to read on. The intention of this article is to spell out, once and for all, why Twitter is great for business leaders
1. Staying in tune with your industry’s thought leaders
If I were to ask you to list 10 people in your area of expertise or industry who are thought leaders, who you respect, who you would gladly listen to – it wouldn’t be hard, right? So for example if you work in Sustainable Development – it wouldn’t be hard to list them…Susan McPherson, Rohit Bhargava, Niall Dunne. You’d quickly rack up a ton of names if you were to make a list. Now, how many of those people are using Twitter to communicate. The answer: most, if not all of them. So the question is really…do you want to know what the thought leaders in your industry are saying? Most professionals would say erm…yes! Which leads me on to my next point…
2. Building your personal brand
Another reason why Twitter is great for business leaders is it allows you to build a personal brand. Most people have something, usually a variety of things, they are passionate about. Social media gives you a voice, a channel, to get your word out – to create your personal brand. Of course not a lot of thought leadership can happen in the 140 characters that Twitter gives you (Twitter is a signposting tool to content on the web. It helps you make sense of the web, it isn’t where the content lives really).
Thought leadership comes from curating and signposting content. Sorting the wheat from the chaff for your followers. Making sense of the world for your followers. We are each of us becoming one person news outlets. Which bring us to a vital point…
3. Growing your sphere of influence
Ever felt like no one listens to you? You have ideas, great ideas, but it’s like shouting in a cave. The only voice you hear is your own echo. Well social media, specifically Twitter, gives you that platform to express yourself. You can build your own audience. An audience is nurtured, not acquired however – so in the same way that any brand works, the consumer needs to identify with the product (i.e. you). Sound scary? It isn’t. You just need to start becoming the news outlet, the curator, the thought leader, the whatever-you-want-to-be.
It’s liberating, and like any good audience the performer learns from the audience reaction, the laughs, the heckles even. Authority, or influence, comes from what you say, what you share, not your social status or rank.
4. Becoming an advocate for your company
Employees are generally not paid to have a voice. They are paid to do their jobs well, nowhere in their job description does it say ‘become an active exponent and advocate of our company in the public arena’. With the internet everyone, and increasingly everything, is becoming connected. People have at their fingertips the power of the printing press and the post office. Anyone can publish and create a following as big as any news outlet or PR agency can muster.
The smart companies are those that tap into this, encourage it, in a measured and mature way, rather than ignore it’s happening. This means actually encouraging employees to become the company’s brand spokespeople. A company’s employees are (or at least should be) the company’s best brand advocates. It’s also a great way to attract top talent. Employees waxing lyrical about the company…what a dream!
This holds up a mirror to the organisation. Are your people passionate and proud about working for you? Or not?
Of course, it helps if you work for a purpose led company. The best and most inspiring businesses to work for are those that have purpose. Jeremy Waite says in his book From Survival to Significance “Significant brands are run by companies whose intentions lie beyond profits. They want to make profit with purpose…”. The businesses are the ones that are purpose-led and have bold ambitions. Going boldly, to quote space explorer Captain James T Kirk.
5. For inspiration
You may have come across the phrase ‘we are the average of the five people we spend most of our time with’. Well Twitter is your 6th friend. Like friends, if you choose the right ones, you’ll be absorbed in conversation that resonates with you.
Back to our example above, if you are following 100 sustainability thought leaders you will end up with an unrivalled source of ‘trails’ to follow up on. To borrow a quote from Michael Hyatt’s article Slay your dragons before breakfast he says ‘Leaders read and readers lead’. Stick to this and you’ll have a ton of things to read, all from trusted sources that serve as inspiration.
So…convinced? Still on the fence? Would love to know why….drop me a line below. How else, on a daily basis, can you connect with thought leaders, build your personal brand, become a thought leader yourself and an advocate for your company?
It’s also rather fun
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Hi there. I'm Gerard Richardson, a social business consultant with over 10 years experience working across large multi-nationals in digital communications, both internal and external facing. This site is called thenetworked.org and is my blog / scrapbook / live journal all about the power of social networks for business. Welcome aboard!