Over the past few weeks I have had a heap of fun producing videos for a research project at the University of the Sunshine Coast that aim to improve the social media skills of undergrad university students.
One of the videos explored three key characteristics of digital leaders that I have identified from my research and how these attributes can be applied to most social media activities. These tips have the potential to assist anyone with a social media profile, and may be helpful to public relations practitioners and marketers alike.
So, what is a digital leader I hear you ask? A digital leader is someone that uses social media in a positive and uplifting way and attracts a large following as a result. What do digital leaders do to achieve such influence?
Digital leaders share valuable content
Digital leaders don’t post what solely interests them or fill their followers’ feeds with a constant flow of self-promotion. Instead, digital leaders think about what their audience will find interesting and they carefully cater to their needs by searching for and curating (or creating) relevant content to share. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about your audience. If you provide relevant, interesting, informative and entertaining content to relay your message your audience will reward you with their loyalty, and by sharing it within their own networks.
Digital leaders create discussion
Digital leaders also create discussion not only between themselves and their followers, (which means answering followers’ posts in a timely way), but between their followers too. Building on the first point about sharing valuable content, when a digital leader posts on social media, their content is usually so interesting or topical that it kicks off a more in-depth discussion. Don’t forget that social media facilitates two-way communication, and digital leaders leverage that to encourage their followers to participate in the discussion too. Social media is not a broadcast medium, although it can definitely end up that way if the content being shared isn’t worth any further interaction once it has been scrolled past on someone’s news feed.
Digital leaders inspire
Digital leaders inspire their followers, and inspired people are definitely great to have on your side. Inspired people can create positive change, donate to causes, volunteer, share your message, and in turn inspire their friends and colleagues too, so inspiring people can have an amazing ripple effect that can extend from online to offline.
What inspires people on social media?
In general, people like to feel part of something greater than themselves particularly when it can make a positive difference in the world. Think about social media phenomenons like the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge. Although an anomaly, it is a great example of the power of social media when millions are inspired enough to participate.
People love seeing how others can transform their lives for the better. Sharing content that detail stories of positive transformation can be extremely effective tools of inspiration.
Also, the personal connections that they have to people and causes can have very special meaning for them. Social media content is more likely to resonate with someone if they are personally connected to it in some way. For example, a breast cancer charity may have more luck in reaching someone who has been personally affected by the disease than those who are not connected to it in any way. Relevant content for specific audiences. Targeting is key.
Digital leaders ignite this inspiration within their social media followers with:
- their content,
- their conduct,
- their discussions and
- by making people feel included and that they have the power to make a positive difference.
And you can definitely do this too.
Before you post, ask yourself these three things:
- Will this post be interesting and/or valuable to my audience?
- How can I spark discussion with this post?
- How inspirational will my audience find this? Does your post display any of the characteristics of social media inspiration mentioned above?
Who and what inspires you on social media?
Have you ever been prompted to act (donate, volunteer or some other action.) after seeing something on social media?