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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leaders Must Lead Across Social-Media Landscape

Social media is becoming a bit of a tail wagging the marketing dog these days. Witness the recent preoccupation with social-media missteps both committed by, and imposed on, some well-known brands.

Burger King and Jeep had to cope with hackers on their Twitter feeds. And social-media gatekeepers for Dodge and The Onion -- presumably either inexperienced, under-managed, or both -- created messes for their bosses to clean up by trying to create "relevant" comment about the meteor that exploded over Russia and about the youngest-ever  best-actress nominee for an Oscar.

But 24x7, ubiquitous, often tripwire-timed social media obviously is here to stay, and will continue to grow in its importance for external and internal corporate communications and marketing.

So the best leaders will only increase their attention to harnessing social media in the best ways for engaging both employees and customers.

That's why a piece in the new issue of McKinsey Quarterly caught our eye, about "Six social-media skills every leader needs." There are lots of lessons in the piece, but one of the most interesting has to do with how leaders can promote social-media literacy throughout their organizations.

"Excitement often runs high for [social-media] technology's potential to span functional and divisional silos," the publication wrote. "But without guidance and coordination .. social-media enthusiasm can backfire and cause severe damage."

So, McKinsey consultants suggest, leaders "must play a proactive role in raising the media literacy of their immediate reports and stakeholders," becoming "trusted advisers, enabling and support5ing their environment in the use of social tools, while ensuring that a culture of learning and reflection takes hold."

Toward this end, the article goes on, leaders "must become tutors and strategic orchestrators of all social-media activities within their control," including setting up new roles such as "community mentors," "content curators," "network analysts" and "social entrepreneurs."

All of this makes sense to us. And as fellow travelers across a new landscape, we're interested in ideas about how companies and leaders are actually implementing social-media leadership inside their organizations.

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