By ROSHAN THIRAN
Two weekends ago, I got the chance to break away from the confines of the office to head down to Johor with fellow Leaderonomers Matthew Naylor (Matt) and Mohd Hafiz Hori (Hafiz). I drove all three of us to a retreat where we worked with Citibank Malaysia leaders to encourage them in their creativity and to expand their thinking outside the box.
It was a great few days away, a trip that reminded me of the importance of building cohesion within a team and, just as important, taking time during the drive there to relax a little and let the creative juices flow.
Sometimes, we’re so focused on the job that we don’t realise just how tense we are, and then we wonder why there are so few ideas and innovations coming to mind. As leaders, we seriously underestimate the power of easing the foot off the gas every once in a while.
Since we had a few hours to spare on the road, Matt – our new general manager of media strategy at Leaderonomics – shifted effortlessly into broadcasting mode as we decided to host a Q&A on Facebook where people were invited to ask me anything. It struck me what a daunting prospect it is to make such an invitation. However, we leaders are constantly advising people to think outside the box and put themselves on the spot, so it’s only fair that we set a good example ourselves.
As the questions came in and Matt put me on the spot to fire back some leadership insights, I began to get a sense of the value of connecting in real time to an online audience.
Of course, having read countless articles on the importance of a good social media strategy, I knew on an intellectual level how desirous it is for customers and online followers to have direct access to the people and brands they follow. But being able to reach out and address specific questions as they came through gave me a thought about the importance of maximising online engagement.
Social media platforms have long provided business leaders and public figures with a wonderful opportunity to allow audience to get closer to their brand alongside unique insights into why they do what they do. And yet, it seems to be the case that businesses are still under-utilising such a powerful resource that allows us to strengthen bonds with our existing colleagues, clients and customers, and also reach beyond to those who share an interest in our visions for the world.
Take a look at my Facebook page and see for yourself some of the questions that put me through my paces. It turned out to be both a valuable and enjoyable way to use up the extra time spent in traffic (and during the retreat), and I’ll definitely be looking at doing more live Q&As in future.
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Embracing social media
In the meantime, I’d love to share with you some of my thoughts on why leaders and public figures should be doing more to take advantage of social media platforms in spreading their message far and wide.
1. You reach people in real-time
While it’s valuable to share content regularly across all your platforms, there’s nothing like connecting with your audience in the present moment.
Needless to say, face-to-face communication is still king of connection. However, going live on social media is the next best thing to make the most of the connections you aren’t able to be with in that moment, and yet still be able to share some valuable nuggets of information that will benefit them.
2. You individualise content
It’s great to receive so much engagement from the content that’s shared across my social media, and nothing gives me more pleasure than to receive and interact with feedback and comments. That being said, it’s also great to respond to specific questions that online members have on their minds at a given moment.
During that time, the focus is solely on responding to what they have to ask, and that’s a wonderful opportunity for three reasons:
- it provides the questioner with the insights they’re after
- other viewers can also benefit from what’s being shared, and
- for the person answering the question, it provides the chance for reflection on their own views and perspectives. On a few occasions, I’ve found myself pondering a really great question long after I’ve answered it, only to find it has led me to a completely fresh idea.
Benefits all round!
3. You personalise your brand
By having live Q&A or similar interactions, leaders “put a face” on the company they represent, which gives their audience a glimpse into the values, culture and philosophy of the organisation.
There’s no better way to show what you’re all about than to put yourself out there. Long gone are the days where public relations was about presenting a picture-perfect image. These days, people connect with companies that show authenticity and sincerity in all they do and what they’re about.
To that end, there’s no fresher, more immediate way to achieve that than by connecting online to those we want to engage, inspire, and empower.
Wrapping it up
A big thanks to Matt and Hafiz for journeying with me all the way to Johor and back, and of course to the rest of the team who joined us on the retreat.
It was a privilege to spend time with the leaders of Citibank Malaysia, and I can testify to the fact that they are a creative, innovative bunch with a bright future ahead. Great work everyone, and thank you for all your efforts in making it a fun, entertaining and informative weekend.
I’m looking forward to the next live interaction on Facebook – and I hope you’ll join in then!
Connect with Roshan on Facebook for more insights into business, personal development, and leadership.
Article first appeared on LinkedIn.