climbing the mountain
What kind of leader do you think will inspire a social media marketing team? PHOTO: Mathias Jensen

Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is social media marketing success. 

It takes a combination of strategy, relationship building, trust, planning and more for a brand to capture an audience's attention and further, make them take action.

This is the third in a four-part series. We've previously delved into the importance of listening and planning and the need to build relationships and trust. Today we're going to look at the role that leadership and community play in creating long-term success.

5. Demonstrate Leadership

Social media leaders — as is the case with their offline counterparts — are valued and respected for their knowledge, experience, passion and vision. The most effective social media leaders also demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility, serve as standard bearers, have a relatively high tolerance for risk, lead by example, think strategically, plan for the short- and long-term, express humility, and have the ability to inspire others.

Another important characteristic synonymous with social media leadership is integrity. And because of the ability for others to quickly and easily spot insincerity and dishonesty on social media, a leader's integrity must be rock solid at all times. 

Innovation is another hallmark of a strong leader. The most successful leaders on social media not only create new concepts and trends and serve as change agents, they also figure out unique ways to generate value and generously and consistently share that value with their online communities.

Are you an influencer? Every effective social media leader is. In fact, many of their friends and followers are subconsciously looking to be influenced. It's how they learn. And that's why they keep coming back to the leaders for guidance and inspiration.

Finally, what about leadership style? Think about those leaders you know who are akin to a tyrant, ruling by dictate. Or the other ones you know who are compassionate but have a firm hand on their ship's tiller and wise words of advice for their shipmates. Which approach do you think has the most impact in the social media world?

Demonstrating leadership is probably the fastest way to create a loyal following on social media. But along with that comes responsibility. So take it seriously.

6. Build Community

Building a loyal community of fans and followers is not a snap-your-fingers and you're done deal. You have to put effort into attracting and growing an audience, and you’ll have to continually nurture the crop before it bears any fruit. But the payoff for that investment can be significant.

Where to begin? Start by identifying key influencers and cultivating individual relationships with them that you can later aggregate into a group of people who share common interests. This is your foundation — the heartbeat of your social media marketing activity. These relationships will become the core of your community and will help you expand its reach and contribute to its growth and influence.

The key to aggregation is providing quality content to your community that interests your target audience — content that’s informational in nature, not a sales pitch. And make sure that content is always relevant to your strategy and your followers. Effective connections with your audience are built when you provide information that’s based on understanding your market segment and your community’s needs, and by presenting those relevant morsels in a concise, easy-to-digest way.

And make it easy for your community members to share your content with their other communities. This will help dramatically expand your reach. Also, you don’t have to create all the content yourself. Instead, promote the submission of user content from within your community, so everyone who wants to get involved is able to do so.

Yes, community building can be difficult, mainly because it requires determination, dedication, and grit — and a lot of time. But it’s key to your longevity in social media.

Next week we will wrap up this four-part series with a deeper look into providing value to your audience and a return to where we started: listening.