One of the more prominent leadership models you hear about recently is this concept of leading from the middle. This is usually compared to two other leadership strategies, such as leading from the rear, and leading from the front. From the rear is like being a general in a battlefield, shouting orders of what you want done, without getting involved in the fray. Leading from the front often times turns into being a micro-manager, charging forward to do everything yourself while your employees wait for you to do it for them. Leading from the middle is hard, requires a lot of work, and that your team be in sync with both the short term and long term goals.
Social media is always, without fail, leading from the middle.
You simply cannot micro-manage social media, as one person cannot be truly “Social”. You need a team of people. The good news is, you have a company, which has people. You have a customer base that is made up of people. That means there’s plenty of people that you need to communicate and interact with your company profile. An enthusiastic employee base to start the exponential growth of your site, as your primary brand ambassadors, is essential.
Now, having a little bit of the old “General” style leadership, when it comes to getting the ball rolling, makes life a little easier. If you have the authority to tell your people, “Since I haven’t shut off Facebook at work on the computers, and since we’re having this little contest going on our Facebook page, I’d appreciate it that when you’re on Facebook during work hours, on my dime, you participate a little…”
With that being said, if you think you can effectively create a social media experience that your employees and your customers take advantage of by leading from the rear, barking out orders, you are gravely mistaken. You can’t order people to be social. As soon as you try to command a lot of social interaction, your quality goes down the tubes, and you end up commanding mostly yourself. At that point, you’re trying to micro-manage social, which we already said simply doesn’t work.
So, how do you effectively lead from the middle? It starts by letting everyone involved, both internally in externally, know what you are hoping to accomplish. Both internal and external clients need to have a reason to interact with you. If they see the value in what you are hoping to achieve, then you can move forward. There needs to be an incentive, whether it is intrinsic in the interaction itself or additional to it.
Then, you need to do it.
Here’s the tricky part. If you cannot effectively run a social media campaign from the middle, because you have neither the time or the skill to do so, you’d better empower the person you have running it with some authority. There’s nothing worse than a Content Producer sending out emails, begging people, “Can you please go on Facebook and help with our contest?” and being completely ignored, while the boss is saying to that same Content Producer, “Why aren’t you getting people to participate?” We’ve seen those types of social media strategies. They last around six months, end in complete failure, and propagate the idea that social media “Just doesn’t work.”
Are you ready to lead from the middle?