Learning to leverage social media is one of the top ways managers can future-proof their success.
As a manager of a company there are certain unspoken responsibilities that you can’t ignore. Your employees need your respect and support, you need to keep everyone in the company up to date, and you need to look after yourself whilst being effective in the role. Another thing you can’t ignore is the presence of social media.
You might think that social media is great for keeping up to date with today’s sport news or post some cute pictures of your pampered pet. But it is also an ideal tool to use in your role as a manager.
Are you a social butterfly? Or, are you a anti-social media recluse? Here are 10 reasons why managers can’t afford to ignore social media and how senior staff can add value online.
1. Learn to listen
How many times have you heard CEOs and senior managers say that they know their company should be on Twitter, but they don’t see the point in embracing it personally? The easiest way to find value from social media is through listening.
If you ignore social media you will not be able to hear what your customers, shareholders, competitors and prospects really think about your brand. Social media can also help you to understand what is being said by, or about, competitors and keep abreast of trends and changes with your industry and market.
You are the spokesperson for your company in the media. Show your customers you value them by speaking to them directly through social platforms. It’s likely that they are already talking about you so why not get involved in the discussion?
Avoid only sending out automated sales tweets about your products. Talk with the years of industry expertise and answer questions as they arise. Once you get more comfortable using social media, focus your time on engaging users with lots of followers or connections and who post insightful content. Then consider using a social media analytics tool, this will help you to track down the influencers in your industry and become an influencer yourself.
3. Don’t fear debate
Everybody has heard about Twitter backlashes. These are avoidable and the benefits of open discussion and (usually) constructive feedback outweigh the risks. If the criticism needs to be addressed by your team, take the discussion away from the eyes of the public by asking the complainant to send you their email address via direct message. It can be frustrating when someone complains in the public eye when the issue could be easily rectified privately, but that comes with being active on social media.
4. Remember the value of experience and expertise
Many businesses entrust social media activity to new or junior staff. While they may have more time in their schedule and seem more confident in the social sphere, they are unlikely to have the wealth of industry experience needed to engage other industry leaders. Put simply, don’t ignore your social media duties and pass them onto an intern.
You want to establish your business as a leader in the industry field not fall prey to an industry faux pax of a novice. It is easy to hand the keys to your Twitter to someone who is under-qualified just because you think you’re too busy, this is usually a mistake. You wouldn’t send them off to a business pitch without support so don’t expect them to carry your online reputation alone either.
5. Social isn’t about wasting your time
Yes, the internet is a marvelous thing for those with a tendency to procrastinate, and many managers cite lack of time as a reason to ignore social media. But it’s just as easy to waste time going for coffee with someone who turns out to have nothing of interest for you.
Make your time go further by using social media to examine the people you want to talk to on an individual basis. Start the conversation online, judge its worth and then decide whether or not to take several hours out of your day to meet them face to face or an hour in a video conference. This is just one example of where engaging with social media right can make everything else seem like a waste of time.
Social media is great way to make new contacts, helping you to build relationships with people in different cities or even on another continent. Striking up a conversation on Twitter with someone you want to link up with can be just as valuable as attending a networking event. You can talk to the people you want to and you have the added benefit of being able to guarantee the quality of your coffee.
7. Keep up with your team
Your employees are likely to be active and enjoy using social media. In order to manage them and be seen as relevant, you need to understand what they are doing online. While you may decide to keep your social media engagement to a minimum, you can’t be an effective manager if you ignore every single platform.
8. Trust your staff
With an understanding of social media comes the confidence to empower your employees to experiment – within reason. Give them the time and support to try out new ideas but remember to draw a line at anything that falls outside your company values. It may sound simple but sometimes people need to be reminded not to insult your customers or use offensive language.
9. Don’t fall behind
Chances are, your more disruptive competitors are already pushing the boundaries on social media. You might be beating them now, but if you leave the field open for them online, they will catch up with you. As much as you use social media to check up on competitors and potential employees you can be sure they are doing the same as you. Customers are using online reviews and social recommendations more than ever, they want the best deal and best service for their money. A strong social media presence will go a long way to ensuring you are a step ahead.
10. Social media isn’t going away
Just like email and mobile phones, social media has changed the way we work. You can try to ignore social media but it isn’t going to disappear any time soon. Don’t be like those dinosaur directors who still write their email by hand to pass on to their PA; get involved in the social conversation now and reap the benefits for the future.