Apr 24, 2012

Leaders Wanted: Choose to Lead in Social Media

Countless brands stunt their reach on social media, because all they do is broadcast their own content. Check their Facebook page or Twitter stream, and you’ll see their articles, their firm announcements, their promotions, their stuff. “Me, me, me.”

Pushing your own content is a way to get started in social media, but it will only take you so far. You may get a few hundred followers on Facebook or Twitter, but fairly quickly your growth will plateau.

If you want to achieve real impact on social media you have to lead.

My social media philosophy is governed by a mantra, “An audience will plateau, but a community is boundaryless.” Leading and building communities is the secret sauce for really scaling your brand in social media.

Communities vs. Advertising

Broadcasting content is just another form of advertising. Package a message, whether in the form of a video, an article or even a promotion, and push it as far and wide as you can. The challenge with advertising is it’s limited to your resources. To reach and engage large audiences needs ever increasing budgets. That’s why big brands can engage such large audiences. They have the budgets and resources to get a lot of eyeballs to see their stuff.

Social media communities are different. They shift the resource paradigm, and engage very large audiences organically. Communities scale, because they draw together broad groups of people with shared interests, shared experiences or shared values. Their connections create commonality, and this enables communities to engage a lot of people.

And scale is only one benefit. Communities enable two-way communications, which means you don’t have to be responsible for all the content. Actually a majority of the content can be created by the community. Others asking questions, sharing content, participating in conversations and engaging with each other.

Only 1% choose to lead

Each of us has an opportunity to lead and make a significant impact in social media, because the vast majority of brands are simply broadcasting. I spoke about this in a previous post, “Stop Shouting! Listen. Build Your Brand Listening.”

Jakob Nielsen, an internet researcher, discovered only 1% of people are active creators in social media communities. He called this the 90-9-1 Rule.

90% of social media users are “lurkers.” These are the people listening and following the conversations from the sidelines. I find the term lurkers a little derogatory, so let’s just call these people listeners.

9% of social media users are “curators.” The curators are sharing content. They’re the ones retweeting, forwarding and re-posting other’s content. They’re engaged in the communities, but they’re not actively creating new content or ideas.

1% of social media users are “active.” These are the leaders. These are the people asking questions, engaging in dialogue, creating content and taking a proactive stance to move the community forward.

Be the 1%. Lead!

You have an opportunity to be very influential in social media if you choose to lead. People are searching for ways to get involved and participate in social media. They’re looking for leadership. Take on this role.

Brands who choose to lead create a remarkable competitive advantage. Instead of simply broadcasting content and promotions they are purposefully engaging with people. They’re building relationships, and they’re bringing value to others. Communities thrive, because of the relationships. And brands need relationships to become sticky.

Be the 1%. Lead. Take a stance in your community.

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