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How are you social as a leader… on Social Media?

I’m really interested in how leaders on social media and especially Twitter “show up”. I’m particularly interested in how they are succeeding, or indeed failing, to show up as they want to. It’s that constant question of what is your leadership presence creating.

In my last post, I shared my thinking on how you show up is actually a mark of your leadership. I also shared 5 leadership fundamentals which are worth thinking about, especially for leaders using social media :

  1. Know what you want to achieve. What are you trying to foster, create or achieve? Know your “why”.
  2. Look to your measures of success. What will show you are succeeding or failing in what you are trying to foster, create or achieve? Know your measures of success.
  3. Be sure not to carry all the weight. Are you carrying all the weight or are you bringing others with you? Create advocacy and support for your “why”.
  4. Ensure your presence actually creates value. How are people experiencing you and your pursuit of your “why”? Get specific and contextual feedback.
  5. Be yourself. In your leadership role can you be anything but yourself? Be yourself as you truly need to be.

As a follow up, I’d like to share some perspectives on understanding how you are social as a leader on Social Media.

Understanding how you are social

The very nature of Social Media requires some form of social sharing. If we aren’t demonstrably doing this then others’ experiences of us on channels such as Twitter may be more hollow than we intend. As a leader I don’t believe that any of us want that.

So how do you build an understanding of how you are social?

To start, look at yourself. Ask trusted others for feedback. Look at how you shape up against the 5 points I’ve mentioned above. Ask people about their experience of you on Social Media. Get feedback on your leadership.

Focusing on Twitter, looking at your analytics is no bad thing in the context of what I’ve said above but you will have to dig a bit. It’s a form of feedback but you’ll have to think a bit beyond statistics. I’m afraid that the publicly available headline “measures” so often used in magazine articles probably won’t tell you very much. In fact, it’s actually quite remarkable how little Twitter does to help measure how you are social…

  • Followers? Apparent popularity isn’t a reliable mark of actual popularity, social leadership or engagement. It says something but not how you are social or the nature of your followers.
  • Following? How many people you follow is a personal choice and entirely contextual on how you want and need to engage with your timeline and others. Is it what you need?
  • Tweets? The number of tweets doesn’t indicate the quality of those tweets. Twitter Analytics will give a sense of interest and reach but it’s easy to get lost in the data.
  • Retweets? Replies? There’s no headline “measure” so you’ll either have to dig into your timeline or export your Twitter activity. Feels like a missing metric for Twitter – see my next post.
  • Duration? Your time on Twitter is probably indicative of very little. Sorry.
  • Likes? Now at a glance these might actually be worth you paying some attention to…

Social leaders on Twitter

A while back, Twitter transformed their “Favourite” button into “Like“. You might remember there was a bit of an uproar at the time but of course life carried on. It seems now that everyone tends to use “Likes” in not too dissimilar a fashion as they used to with “Favourites“.

Using the “Like” function shows you are reading and noticing others’ tweets, giving anything from acknowledgement to endorsement. It’s not the only way but it is a significant way on Twitter. It’s a way to represent your interest in others and what they are sharing. It’s even a way to bookmark tweets for later. So it feels as though how you use “Likes” might be an important yet very simple indicator for how you are being social.

To explore this more, I took a look at the publicly available information on 40 people who are well regarded as Social Leaders on Twitter. Looking at the number of “Likes” they’ve given on Twitter relative to their volume of tweets gave a very interesting perspective on styles and perhaps degrees of their particular forms of social leadership.


The size of the globes indicates the proportion of “Likes” to “Tweets”. The bigger the globe the more “Likes” the Social Leader has given relative to the number of “Tweets” they’ve shared.

The distribution clearly shows some interesting differences but the scales don’t give much clarity on the lower parts of the chart so here is a more detailed view on that specific area using a smaller scale for “Likes”.


What’s interesting to me is how those who use “Likes” in generous proportion to their tweets seem to stand out from the crowd both online and in the data. That’s my subjective experience but I think it’s worth sharing anecdotally.

There’s more to be observed and there are some interesting metrics to look at in Twitter Analytics which I’d like to get deeper into in my next post.  However, as a starting point it seems that “Likes” could be a useful focus for leaders using Twitter.

I’d be interested in what you think.

If you’d like to talk confidentially about your own leadership and how you “show up” on social media, please do get in touch. I’d be very happy to chat further, share my thinking and help you further if I can.




  1. Pingback: Leaders: Are you getting the most from Social Media? | People Performance Potential - May 10, 2017


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