Social media literacy is fast becoming a source of competitive advantage both for organizations and individuals. What was unknown just a few years ago has become our daily reality. Many organizations realize the potential of harnessing these new technologies: social media campaigns engage customers and potential employees alike, internal social networking sites and blogs encourage the sharing of ideas and best practices as well as increase the opportunity for improved communication, on-line meeting and collaboration tools enable global teams to function more effectively and other social media tools augment training and knowledge management.
Yet with all these benefits there is still there is still unease and uncertainty about the risks of social media. In addition, social media encourages collaboration and conversation that travel random paths across varying levels of management. This is in contrast to existing methods of communication in most organizations today where there is hierarchy and accepted process.
Leaders in the 2020 workplace will need to balance maximizing the potential of social media while navigating the possible risks. This calls for a new set of skills for those leaders to be successful.
Create Compelling Content
Social media platforms provide a variety of avenues for leaders to communicate with their teams; in writing, via video and live streaming. In all platforms, leaders need to be able to create content that is authentic and compelling enough to have people take notice. In addition, they need the technical skills to produce and edit in each of these mediums as the days of production teams and lead times have dwindled. Many leaders use their smart phones to shoot their own video message and upload it to their blog. All leaders need to become comfortable with imperfection and an unpolished openness.
Manage the Influx of Communication
It’s not just about managing your e-mail inbox anymore. Social media has increased the “communication overload” exponentially. Leaders will need to leverage the software tools that filter the many streams of communication, helping them to identify not just the most important information but the information most important at a particular point in time.
Most companies have defined roles of responsibility and systems of accountability encouraging departments to work in silos. They can be reluctant to share knowledge. The use of social media encourages collaboration. Communication moves horizontally across all levels of the organization almost forcing the breakdown of these silos. Savvy leaders will create an environment that supports a more free exchange of information as well as educate their teams on the responsibility of openness and transparency.
Leverage Broadcast Channels
Traditional channels of communicating a message are very linear and controlled. Social media distributes information through a variety of channels all at once without any ability to control the message once it is communicated. Giving up control and understanding how to leverage both types of broadcast channels is important.
Know Your Influencers
Developing a strong body of followers and understanding your industry’s influencers are important for leaders to ensure the message moves through the right channels and reaches the right audience.
Social media is still relatively new to many organizations. An organization’s excitement to leverage the benefits of social media is many times mismatched with the social media literacy within the company. Leaders need to be advocates and facilitators of social media proficiency, learning and reflection. This may mean the creation of new roles such as community mentors, content creators or network analysts as well as leveraging the talent of new employees to use and teach social media.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
Social media comprises a variety of tools that can help organizations achieve their objectives. It is also an area that is constantly changing, current channels are improved and more options enter the field everyday. Leaders will need to stay informed of emerging trends, the different types of Social Media as well as new innovations; quickly determining the benefits and risks.
Social media is not a strategy but a tool to be used strategically. Leaders need to ensure their team stays focused on the business objectives, utilizing social media tools where they will most effectively support the achievement of those objectives.
Social media has and continues to transform the way we live and work. Those companies that embrace the potential of social media and prepare their leaders with new skills will be better prepared for the future. They will attract and retain top talent, improve their ability to leverage the knowledge and capabilities of their employees, increase collaboration inside and outside the organization ultimately resulting in increased customer loyalty and improved profitability.