Carmine Gallo, Contributor
I write about success, leadership and communications.
In a recent blog postRichard Branson offered six tips on using social media. Specifically, he revealed how Virgin Unite and other non-profits are leveraging social media to get their message across. I believe these six tips apply to any social media campaign for any business, not just non-profits. Here are the six tips along with one bonus tip based on my personal observation of Richard Branson.
- Tell stories. “People respond to stories, not data.”
- Be creative. “Experiment with new ways of telling stories and make the most of all the new tools out there like Tumblr and Storify.”
- Choose the right channel. “Match your content to different platforms and audiences.”
- Be truthful. “Don’t pretend you’re something you’re not.”
- Work together. “Collaborate with people and organizations who are fighting for the same cause.”
- Have fun. “Work should be fun and making work fun brings success.”
Bonus tip #7. Do it yourself. The most successful leaders on social media are actively engaged themselves on social platforms; they don’t delegate social media. I spent a day with Branson, which I wrote about in this Forbes.com article. In between our conversations, I had the opportunity to see how Branson interacts with his team, employees, and customers. I was surprised to see him carrying a smartphone and sending out his own tweets. For example, when his marketing manager showed him a photograph of a Virgin employee, he said, “Send me the picture. I’ll think of a funny caption and I’ll post it.” The Twitter posts from the handle @richardbranson go out to 3.5 million followers and most are from Branson himself. Branson also writes his own blog posts.
As his tips suggest, Branson has fun with his Tweets. It’s not uncommon to for him to post photos of himself at a party or simply having a good time.
This week he posted this tweet about the new Virgin Active health clubs in South Africa: “When Nelson Mandela phoned yours truly in the bath, who knew by 2012 we would open this: http://virg.in/yowyVHe once posted, “There are no baby planes because @virgin always pulls out on time. Ask your mother to explain…” I understand that not every exec can be as irreverent, cheeky, and outspoken as Branson, but his approach is unique and engaging precisely because it’s authentic.
Many of the leaders who I meet or interview are completely disengaged from their company’s social media. They delegate Twitter and Facebook to their Public Relations manager or outside PR agency to use as a broadcast tool instead of a platform to facilitate conversations. I’ve lost count at how many Tweets I’ve sent to executives, leaders, experts, and brands that go unanswered. It’s rare to get a response and I’m giving them an opportunity to be featured in this column. It tells me there’s no authentic voice behind the account. I can hear some of you say, “Carmine, you can’t expect a leader to respond to all three million followers.” True. But most people don’t have anywhere near three million Twitter followers. They’re simply disengaged.
Branson’s six tips are excellent and will work for any leader or brand on social media. The seventh tip, however, makes the first six more effective. Don’t be on social media just to say you’re on it. By definition, “social” is the opposite of isolation. If you’re going to join a community, go all in.
Carmine Gallo is the communications coach for the world’s most admired brands. He is a popular keynote speaker and author of several books, including the international bestsellers The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Carmine’s upcoming book, Talk Like TED, reveals the 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds. Sign up for Carmine’s newsletter and follow him on Facebook or Twitter.