Deborah Lee
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Why the Future Belongs to the Socially-Savvy Business Leader

Social Business Leaders

One thing that unites us in our love for social media is the perceived access it gives us to the good and the great. Forget six degrees of separation … All you need to do now is locate their profile and hit that tweet button.

The barriers and obstacles have fallen away, and we love it.

Of course, from a brand’s perspective this is can be a challenge, because you need to work really hard to ensure your content screams ‘p-e-r-s-o-n-a-l-i-t-y’ by way of compensation for the well-oiled slickness of your logo.

One realisation that companies do seem to be cottoning on to is that no amount of well-constructed content will outdo the musings of the digitally endearing executive.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at Sir Richard Branson’s Twitter account with over four million (yes, that’s 4,000,000) followers and compare it to that of his Virgin Twitter account with its 154,000 followers. That’s an extreme example, but hopefully it illustrates my point. Sir Richard is just more interesting, non?

The underlying message is and will continue to be … We prefer people over brands.

And if those people are charismatic, innovative and inspirational, we will follow them to the end of our battery life.

So what do these socially-fabulous movers and shakers have that makes them so endearing?

Here are my thoughts …

They’re authentic. Nobody tweets for them. Ever! They are the real deal, and it’s clear to see.

They’re likeable. It could be that your initial take was not a positive one, but to your utter astonishment and against all odds, you start to develop a sneaking regard for them. Mainly because they’re climbing down from their (perceived) ivory tower and getting in amongst it.

They’re passionate about what they do, and it’s infectious. We all need more of this, don’t we? On those sad dreary days when putting one foot in front of the other just seems like too much effort … A few brilliantly-crafted words in the form of 140 characters from a business super-icon will put fuel back in your motivation tank and get you motoring again.

They demonstrate why they’re leaders, consistently through their interaction. This is crucial. We see at first hand how they give bang for their buck, and why people listen to them.

They’re not online 24/7. On account of the fact they they’re business leaders. Some time ago I read a piece arguing the case for senior executives not needing to lower themselves to tweet. The main point of it was “they’ve got better things to do” but I doubt anyone is busier than Sir Richard Branson and Lord Sugar and they seem to do absolutely fine.

And, most importantly …

They’re social! They enjoy interaction, the exchange of ideas and debating new concepts. Whilst they may have strongly-held beliefs and convictions of their own, they happily consider and discuss alternatives. And they understand that social media is the perfect platform to do this.

People are more interesting than their organisation, company or brand, it’s as simple as that. No matter how hard the marketers work to try and shift our preferences on this, it isn’t going to change any time soon. Trust me.

And the socially-adept business leader knows this.

Leave a Comment:

Gary Hyman says

Well put Deb – authentic, likable, passionate & sociable! In Sir Richard’s case, he has all those qualities, plus he is the Brand as much as Virgin is he. Perhaps to a lesser degree, but I think other leaders like these guys get it too – @BarackObama, @rupertmurdoch, @jeffweiner, @ericschmidt, @Benioff, @MichaelDell.

    debsylee says

    Without a doubt Gary, there are many others who have identified the strengths of social media and are using them to great effect.

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