Social media has changed the leadership landscape radically in the last few years.
The question is how do you use it optimally as a leader?
In my experience, social media is both about what you do on social media as well as how you do it. The what is your content. The how is your tone.
Both are critical.
I don’t think I’ve nailed social media at all, but I love learning. (I’m actually going to completely reboot how we do all our social media at Connexus over the next few months [and rethink how I use it personally]). So my notebook’s open.
9 Great Ways to Use Social Media
That said, there are some emerging best practices that can help leaders immediately. Here are 9 great ways for leaders to use social media:
1. Have conversations. One of the greatest aspects of social media is the ability to have conversations with people you’re not in the same room with. You can engage people you’ve never met and many you have met. In addition, I find people often share things in writing they’re afraid to share in person. I have some great conversation on social media with leaders and people who attend our church that might not otherwise happen.
2. Ask questions. I often use questions not just to start conversations, but also to crowdsource message series ideas. I recently asked people to share which aspect of Christian hypocrisy bothers them most. I learned a lot and am using that to shape a message for our current series. Not only does this help you as a leader, but it really helps others to dig into a key subject before you raise it. Engagement fuels interest and helps people personally process key truths.
3. Discover what other people are doing. Ever wish you could know more about what’s happening in the lives of people you care about or want to get to know? Social media can help you do that. You just need to listen and read more than you tweet or post. Plus when you track with others, that gives you something to talk about in the next personal conversation you have. And it helps you pray for them.
4. Celebrate a moment in someone else’s life. One of the best ways to connect with people is to celebrate something that’s going on in their lives. Leaving comments, retweeting key moments or insights, liking photos and generally just being a kind person is a great way to build relationships. You can’t attend every wedding or birthday party, but a ten second like or comment can make someones’ day.
5. Point people to great resources. There are so many free resources and articles out there. Share some that you think will help your followers and friends. They’ll be grateful you did. As I shared in this post, if you really want to connect with people, helpful wins.
6. Let people see who you really are.If you’re a leader, people naturally wonder what you’re “really like”. Some leaders share none of that, and that’s a mistake. Some leaders “overshare”, and that’s definitely a mistake. But giving people a glimpse into your life can be a great thing and create an affinity. In particular, unchurched people (in a ministry context) or non-customers (in a business context) want to connect with a person, not just an idea or a corporate image.
7. Inspire people. For a few years now, I’ve tweeted and facebooked scripture verses that inspired me in my personal Bible Study. Sometimes I worry it’s coming across as preachy, but I’ve received some great feedback on them. In fact, one person told me it’s her Bible reading every day. While that’s not optimal, at least it’s a start. Lately I’m using the Word Swag App (affiliate link) to place scripture over images on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (by the way, here are 25 other smartphone apps that are helping me get better as a leader). I get thank you’s every week from people who appreciate the scripture verses. Whatever you do…inspire people. I’ve never met anyone who was over-inspired or over-encouraged.
8. Reply to people with less ‘influence’ than you. Yep. Just like in kindergarten, there’s a pecking order. Just because you might have a few thousand followers doesn’t mean you should ignore the person with 12. Don’t just suck up to social media stars. Be kind to everyone. That’s all.
9. Remind people why what they do matter. People need to be reminded why what they do matters. I see Sundays as a chance to thank people who served, invited friends and gave to the mission. Reminding them of why this matters helps so much. When you tie your updates back to the mission “Hey Connexus volunteers thanks for getting up early today! Did you see the baptism today? Thank you for creating a place where this happens.” Is better than “Another awesome Sunday”.
And 3 Mistakes
You can misuse social media too. If you want to lose influence and respect on social media, here are three ways to do it quickly:
1. Only promote events or yourself. Some leaders see social media as a billboard or trumpet. I think it’s okay to send leaders to content that helps them (even if it is your own), but if you just use it to promote your next event (Join us! Don’t miss X!), people will tune you out. It’s amazing to me how many people think social media is a free billboard. It’s not. It’s a conversation and it’s about information that helps people.
2. Vent your frustration. If you’re mad, keep it to yourself. People who post about how hard they’ve worked, how mad they are, how tired they are (again!), or how frustrated X made them simply lose influence. You don’t need to be fake, but please realize that those conversations are best reserved for the people you confide in, not all your friends or followers.
3. Criticize others. If you have a problem with someone, talk to them, not about them. Negativity never makes the world a better place.
3 Free Resources For More
Want more on social media? I don’t know many people who deal with social media more practically than Rich Birch. Here are three free resources:
Still unconvinced social media’s a good idea? Rich shares 5 reasons pastors in particular need to be on social media.
He also has a free on-demand webinar about using social media you can access here.
What Are You Learning?
What are some great practices (and bad ones) you see? Leave a comment!