How Should You Lead on Social Media? Great Ideas Session Reveals All

It’s easy to say the wrong thing on social media—but not if you’re honest and thoughtful, said the social media specialist at the helm for the American Nurses Association, who offered some strategy tips during a session at the Great Ideas Conference.

In starting her Great Ideas session Tuesday, Lisa Lloyd offered a lengthy anecdote about learning how to swim as a child in St. Kitts and Nevis.

She noted that her father encouraged her to learn about swimming in the ocean, rather than in the pool, because of all the extra elements that come with it, like the tide, the rocks, and the jellyfish. She didn’t understand it at the time, but she gets it now—and she says it directly applies to her job as social media specialist with the American Nurses Association (ANA).

“Social media is an ocean, and today I’m going to teach you how to swim,” she said as she launched into her  session, which broke down what leaders need to consider when trying to dip into the waters on social media.

While Lloyd said she sometimes tweets all day, her real gig is more about properly placing and contextualizing both her association and its leaders in the online conversation, something that requires a mixture of marketing, content creation, customer service, community facilitation, and a nose for news. In the latter case, Lloyd said that when Adele won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and argued from the stage that Beyonce should have won instead, this became meme fodder for ANA’s social feeds (see above).

“If you’re listening to these massive conversations, you’re able to connect the dots to your consumers,” she said.

But this philosophy translates especially to leaders, who often face different considerations for putting themselves out there on Facebook or Twitter. While she said you shouldn’t lift too much, she did say it’s easier to do social media if you consider it from the perspective of honesty and clarity. While you may want help from someone like Lloyd to thoughtfully curate that message, ultimately your online voice should be true to your mission.

“Even if you have a professional account, you can still be truthful about who you are,” she said.

During her presentation, she suggested looking closely at what other noteworthy leaders do on social outlets (citing Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Oprah Winfrey as examples), as well as working with social media experts to get you in practice.

This, she emphasized, also helps associations make the case when taking a stance, drawing the example of ANA President Pamela Cipriano, who spoke out forthrightly against a criticism of nursing in a Huffington Post article. This, according to Lloyd, can be a tough balance, but it is made easier if considered thoughtfully.

“You have to figure out what you stand on,” Lloyd said. “What is the thing you’re not going to move from?”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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