Engagement is a key factor to develop trust-based relationships. We often believe what we see on engaging platforms, especially social media. The recent decline in institutional trust and the growth of social media has shifted people’s trust making social media a more reliable platform. A Harvard Business Review survey emphasised that people trust strangers on the internet more than their own boss. This phenomenon reflects directly on the concept of Leadership.
Today it has become a norm to know the leaders and connect with them on a personal level. Transparency and higher levels of influence are expected out of a leader. It is an amusing fact that a Swedish YouTuber Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (PewDiePie) is one of the most influential people online. With a strong influence and positioning, his followers have an abundance of trust in him. Similarly, to develop trust within an organisation it is essential that a leader adopts social media platforms and increases engagement with the employees of the organisation. Apart from trust, communication through social media has a considerable impact on the wellbeing and engagement within the organisation.
As far as influence is concerned, several “social CEO’s” have used social media for effective leadership. Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of Uber and Michael Dell, CEO of Dell brilliantly communicate their companies’ cultural values through social media platforms. These posts not only gained a lot of attention but also allowed people to believe in the leaders as well as their companies.
Engagement and developing trust-based relationships might be the topmost reason for leaders to adopt social media platforms. However, a few more factors could persuade leaders to do so. They are as follows:
1. To share Expertise or Mentoring:
Recently, a boy wrote a letter to the CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce. In response to this letter, Joyce gave amazing guidance to the boy on Facebook. This piece of communication changed the way Alan Joyce was perceived as a leader. He got recognised as a ‘nice guy’ and induced several other people to communicate with him on social media. A leader is a professional with great experience and knowledge would want his team to be aligned with his ideologies. Social media is a quick and easy way to share certain insights and ideas with the team as well as people who’re looking forward to working with the organisation or learn about it regardless. Considering that leaders no longer get one-on-one time with other employers, social media allows the leader to be visible and relevant at all times.
Organisations often want a good reputation in encouraging and developing new talent via their employer branding. The numbers of university graduates are increasing by the day and these young adults spend most of their time on social media platforms. The company’s requirements from new employees can be portrayed effectively with a much higher reach on social media. Likewise, the leader need not confine to personal interviews to understand a candidate. As a first step, through social media, the candidate can be understood on a personal as well as the professional level that further builds trust at a greater extent.
3. Proving ground:
A Harvard case study based on United Airlines precisely describes the role of social media in leadership. A disappointed customer used social media to complain about his bad experience and portray United Airlines in a bad light. However, the CEO and CFO of United also took to social media. These leaders immediately apologised and posted content that made the viewers believe that people at United Airlines care about their customers. Additionally, people that had good experiences with the airlines also supported the leaders on social media. In times of crisis, leaders need to use the best possible medium to recover from damage before it gets worse. Social media had a massive reach can make this process simpler as compared to other crisis management techniques.
4. Improvement in business performance through relational engagement:
Customers co-create brands. Businesses along with shared customer experiences make a brand. To form an appropriate relationship with customers and understanding their experiences can assist a leader in evaluating the customer journey and expectations. This process has now become a requirement for competitor advantage. Leaders must build relationships with potential customers to sustain in the market and grow their business. Through online reviews and responses to campaigns, social media provides very reliable data to the leaders. Unlike market research, social media also provides an insight into emotions and buying behaviour of customers. This allows leaders to form relationships and evaluate customers’ expectations in depth allowing the smooth growth of the business.
5. Authentic Personal Branding:
More than what one needs, Personal Branding is about how one can maximise their best self and reap the rewards of their efforts.
Social Media allows a leader to share their personal brand with the team, peers, clients and the community with a purpose-driven approach. Building and renewing one’s personal brand is the easiest on social media. With social media platforms, a leader’s image can also be updated in terms of the changes required to their personal brand according to the ongoing trends and demands. Google is an important example of how much social media influences one’s personal brand. On typing a name on Google, a social media link is most likely to appear first. Hence, the content on social media can be a backbone to personal branding. Smart personal branding strategies on social media increase the perceived value of a leader. Other benefits associated include new partnerships, thought leader positioning and greater credibility that result in overall greater success.
When leaders use social media they can inspire their teams, increase relationships with customers and create a positive impact in all areas including corporate brand positioning. Using social media in a smart and strategic manner is proving to be an effective leadership tool and will only continue to grow in the future.