Be Smart About Social Media: Lead From The Front


During my recent class for Social Media Marketing University one of my students raised an interesting point. Vice President Joe Biden has a Twitter account, but no new Tweets have been posted since January 2013. What does that lack of activity mean?

It means the Vice President’s communication team has a problem, that’s what it means. Anyone who follows American politics knows that Joe Biden isn’t shy about saying what he thinks. Twitter provides the perfect platform for his wit and wisdom. Strategic use of this powerful social media tool could strengthen his bond with the American people.

Use It Or Lose It: The Perils of Inactive Social Media Accounts

You don’t derive benefits from tools you’re not actively using. In fact, inactive social media accounts can be problematic. The fact that Joe Biden’s team began a Twitter account, but apparently dropped their efforts to populate it after the Inauguration is akin to the hot date who never calls back after the big night: once he got what he wanted, there’s no reason to pretend to want a relationship.

Does that sound harsh? Here’s a fundamental truth about social media that you need to know: once you stop telling your story, other people will tell it for you. Silence can be interpreted many ways, and very few of them are favorable. If you are not communicating, you are giving up control of your brand narrative. This is important in politics, and it’s important in business.

Lead From The Front: Making Social Media Work

We were particularly surprised to see this silence from Joe Biden in light of the fact that significant attention has been paid to the role social media played in getting both Mr. Biden and President Barack Obama elected. Part of the reason the Obama social media campaign was so effective is because it was led from the front: President Obama, his wife First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden all had social media presences in addition to the official White House social media.

This type of leadership is so important. I’m often asked by business owners how they can get their own team members involved and enthusiastic about promoting the company on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms. The answer is that you have to model the behavior you want to see. Provide an example that your employees can follow.

If you take on a leadership role, demonstrating how committed you are to spreading your brand message and interacting with your customers, it is much more likely that your team members will understand that this type of engagement is truly important to your marketing strategy.

For an example of this concept in action, I’d direct your attention to Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin. On Twitter, he’s regularly posting on his @RichardBranson account, constantly reminding his customers that they can ask him anything simply by using the #askrichard hashtag. This is an active, ongoing demonstration of leadership from the front. What Richard Branson is doing is something all business owners – and politicians – need to be doing: making sure our customers know we value the relationship we have with them, and that we’re willing to put effort and energy to keep that connection going.

Are You Joe Biden or Richard Branson?

It’s time to look at yourself in the social media mirror. Take an inventory of your existing social media accounts. When was the last time you posted to each platform? Look at your content with an objective eye. Are you excited and inspired by what you read? Do your communications with your customers seem like something you want to do or one more chore you have to complete?

Richard Branson gets it; follow his example. Look at what you’re doing, identify areas for improvement, and go do better. You’ll get better results from your social media when you lead from the front.

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