Leads Are for Leaders Series 2: Leading Without Alienating

Leading in the Age of Social Media

If you’re on social media, you’ve got one—that friend, coworker or neighbor who posts often and obnoxiously about their views. It’s easy to ignore them when they’re arguing that Twisted Sister was the greatest rock band ever. It gets more difficult when they post about politics or religion or any other sensitive topic.

Being clear about your values and being able to convey them is an important facet of leadership. But how do you do that on social media without potentially alienating current or future customers who may think differently?

Set Up Dual Identities
It’s easy to set up two accounts on social media sites. If you’re a staunch fill-in-the-blank, it’s also advisable. Use your professional account to post information related to insurance or your local community or anything else you think your customers might be interested in knowing. Save the pontificating for your personal account, and make that account private.

Never Post in the Heat of the Moment
Even if you do utilize privacy settings, remember that nothing is truly private on social media. If you go off on a rant, it’s possible for anyone who sees it to take a screenshot that could haunt you in the future. Type your opinions into a Word document, then walk away for two hours. Or two days. If you have a nagging voice telling you that you might take some heat for your position, decide if it’s worth it to possibly lose friends or have your opinion made public and lose business, too.

Use Screening Options
Maybe you know there is a segment of your friend list that would appreciate your stance. You can always create group lists and show certain posts only to certain groups. Proceed with caution, though. Unless you are naturally very detail-oriented, it’s easy to make a mistake and post the wrong thing in the wrong place.

Accentuate the Positive
If you have thought about an issue carefully and decided you need to take a stand, try to keep it positive and be respectful. State why you are in favor of a particular position as opposed to bashing the other side. It’s an easier pill for those in opposition to swallow if they don’t feel like you are making them out to be idiots for believing what they believe.

Be Prepared to Take the Heat
If you’re going to enter the fray, allow equal time. If someone with a different point of view posts a response, thank them for it (provided they are also respectful). Try to create a space for civil debate. And delete any responses that are hateful, inaccurate or demeaning. You don’t need to be associated with anyone else’s rancor.

Lassie to the Rescue!
If you realize you posted something you shouldn’t have, a sincere apology goes a long way. Then try posting nothing but cute puppy videos for a few weeks. Nobody can hate on a cute puppy video.

Leaders sometimes take controversial stands. Some issues are worth fighting for and may be worth the fallout to business or personal relationships. Just be sure you are clear before you post if that is the case.

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At Hometown Quotes, we believe that leads are for leaders. This is the second of three blog posts about developing leadership skills. Read the first about becoming a community leader.

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