How Effective Leaders Can Use Social Media

Social Media Icons

Being a leader of a team has many faces.

One almost has to be a paranoid schizophrenic to have effective leadership skills nowadays.

So many voices talking to them and so many personalities that they must exemplify to fit all the roles they play, it’s a wonder they stay sane.

Changing Business Landscape

The business world has drastically changed in the last five years.

Social media has swept in and torched the landscape like Smaug from the Hobbit. The land looks different from what it used to look like, and now we have a bunch of fresh young pines sprouting up all over our companies who are intimately tied to the social media machine.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumbler, Foursquare, and whatever else people are using…they are using it a lot.Generation Xers and the Baby Boomers are just as active as the Millennials and their use of social media in the workplace.

Company leaders have to lead, and one thing we can rest our laurels on is that social media opens up a new line of communication that we didn’t have before.

When used wisely social media can enhance leadership capabilities.

I am going to try and illustrate why leaders should stay social media savvy in order to further their goals and objectives.

Social Media Increases Speed

In business, speed can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

If you can act quickly and decisively on the right information you can make a lot of money. Conversely, if the information vital to decision-making is unavailable due to lack of communication speed, a missed opportunity can leave an indelible mark on the leader and the company.

Social media drastically speeds up the communication machine.

Sure, email is still fast, but it’s not 23-seconds fast. I say 23-because when something important happens, let’s say something political, my phone sends me a push notification and by the time I open it up it seems like it’s been about 23-seconds.

An email sent to your inbox will not be seen that fast.

An employee could share something on the company Facebook page or send a direct message which could be seen by you or other decision making individuals in the organization and acted upon quickly. I love that!

Social Media Increases Communication

I believe we’ve already had a paradigm shift when it comes to communication.

There are lots of naysayers out there who think that communicating via text or smart phone is doing a disservice to the psyche of everyone in the world. I understand that body language and other verbal subtleties are lacking in electronic communication, but the fact of the matter is some communication in the workplace, to get things done quickly and efficiently, doesn’t require body language.

It doesn’t bother me that employees might tweet each other instead of getting out of their chairs and walking two or three cubicles down the aisle.

That’s because a tweet or direct message is light years faster than standing up and walking to someone else’s desk.

In my experience, social media does not distract or isolate employees. On the contrary, it brings them together, albeit in an online space, and speeds up talking points. As a leader I believe we should encourage employees to utilize social media this way to communicate when appropriate.

Social Media Humanizes

There is something about a “quick” email, when you compare to social media, that sucks the life out of the message. In an email it is too easy to confuse the emotional meaning behind the words. I’ve sent a number of quick emails over the course of my career that were construed in a negative way I didn’t intend them to be.

People thought I was being too “mean” or too “bossy” in the way I came across, but in reality I just wasn’t being excessively polite by saying please and thank you and each sentence!

By communicating via social media you actually feel “real” to the recipient.

Starting out a direct message by saying “hey Jack, do you have a second?” And then as that person responds you can engage them in a real-time conversation in a way that can’t be done through email. 10 years ago people used to use instant messaging regularly in the same fashion, but IM has gone WAY down in usage.

I think instant messaging will be dead in a few years…it’s already on life support. So, by having a real-time conversation using a social media platform you humanize your electronic communications making them much more effective.

This in turn makes you a better and more approachable leader.

Don’t go crazy using social media, but don’t give it the cold shoulder either. Social media, in some form or another, will be with us for the foreseeable future. It has a lot of advantages, and don’t get me wrong it does have disadvantages, but I think the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages. Use it wisely and use it well, it should increase your effectiveness and power as a leader.


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Robert Cordray
Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

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3 responses to “How Effective Leaders Can Use Social Media

  1. Robert,

    Great point on the quick e-mail. Why do you think IM has decreased in usage so much and has been ‘replaced’ by SM?



    • I believe that as technology evolved, better and more efficient methods of connecting to people did too. Instead of downloading programs and coming up with screennames, people communicate through text messages and chat features found on social media websites.


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