3 Steps to Leadership with Social Media – A Perspective for Brands

This past week, a colleague asked me if I could help out her friend with some social media advice for her legal business. The first questioned that was asked was, “How should I use Facebook?”

In other instances, people ask me about social media use for brands. They want to know what they might accomplish, what they should expect, or what that they should aim for.

Let’s start out with a simple premise … use social media to establish yourself or your brand as a leader … a thought leader on a particular subject, the brand leader in a specific vertical industry, a leader for selected target audience. Would you want to accomplish anything less?

What does it mean to be a leader? I think if you research this question you will find countless answers. About ten years ago, I was part of a marketing leadership team in a big corporation. This leadership group was made up of a number of up and comers in the corporation. The group was formed as part of a succession planning for key positions within the corporation. At one of our sessions, we had our chairman come speak about leadership. He asked all of us, “What does it mean to be a leader?” There were some basic definitions answered as well as profound and esoteric answers. After everyone was finished, the chairman simply stated “a leader is someone that people want to follow.” This was his exact answer.

“A leader is someone people want to follow.” Follow someone … isn’t this something that has direct meaning in a social media context and yet this was the statement a good five years before anyone even heard of the term social media. And now we have new meaning of what a follower is with the emergence and adoption of social media. There are a handful of reasons why someone gets a following in social media. The follower gets an incentives, gets valuable information, feels like they are in the know, is entertained, and others. Some of these reasons demonstrate leadership. Even if the reason was not due to leadership, it takes leadership to keep a follower engaged.

So now think about the relationship followers and leadership. If we marry these two concepts of following and leadership, I think we are on the path of social media success. Here are the 3 steps of accomplishing leadership with social media:

1. Produce content to reinforce your subject matter expertise. Before you even start with social media, you must think content. What are you going to produce to help your target audience? What peaks their interest and makes them want to come back to your page and get more information? What is it that you need to produce that makes the target audience say, “They get it” in reference to you or your brand? Consider this your pre-work before you ever start any social media endeavor. Not only will you need to have a number of content pieces prepared from the start, but you will need a constant periodic flow to reinforce that “you get it.”

2. Identify where your target audience goes to seek information relevant to your brand category. You cannot build “the field of dreams.” You need to identify where your target audience goes to learn and discuss topics and issues relevant to what you or your brand offer. Your social media plight starts there, not on your Facebook page or other social assets you manage.

3. Apply the A-Path of social media. A number of years ago, I defined the social media A-Path. Since that time, I have written a number of articles that reference the A-Path. I explicitly use this approach in the social media practice I lead at MediaWhiz. The A-Path is core to social media. It describes how to build relationships via social media. Attention > Attraction > Affinity > Audience > Advocacy.

Do not sell yourself short. Seek to establish and maintain ultimate leadership. Continually prove and reinforce this leadership by producing appropriate content. Don’t wait for your audience to find you. Go out and find them and engage with them where they already exist. Then work on building a relationship. A connection strong enough to warrant asking them to visit your digital assets. And then over time, a relationship strong enough that your audience becomes your source for marketing as they provide word of mouth referrals for your brand.

This is how you capture leadership with social media. Are you ready?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under leadership, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

8 responses to “3 Steps to Leadership with Social Media – A Perspective for Brands

  1. Mark Hindman

    I also believe it is vital to create a defined “personality” and “tone” in the communications. This ultimately becomes the “brand voice.”

  2. Tony Dowling

    Great piece! I really like that, and it makes an awful lot of sense. Thanks Steve!

  3. Jim Matorin


    Your posts are always concise and timely – three steps. Unfortunately my Tribe spends little time online since the foodservice industry, the manufacturers tend to lag behind when it comes to technology. I compensate by getting speaking gigs at conferences, since conferences is where my Tribe goes to network and learn. #3 new learning for me. A keeper.

  4. Great point about finding where your target goes to find information. Corporate buyers are not usually trolling social sites to find services or products but they may look for information and content. Bob

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