As leaders and entrepreneurs, I think we can all agree that we spend a lot of time dealing with the present, looking ahead to the future, and identifying how our ventures can help shape it. Not much time or energy is focused on the past and how the trends happening in our industries right now came to be.
So humor me for a minute while I paint a little picture of 2009 for you.
Remember 2009? Back when Jimmy Fallon hosted "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" instead of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"? It was also the year that Ashton Kutcher, of all people, became the first Twitter user to reach 1 million followers. At the same time, content was starting to gain traction with more and more marketers.
Things have clearly grown and changed since then. That Jimmy Fallon guy is the host of a totally different show. Plenty of Twitter users have huge followings. And content marketing trends have changed so much of how brands approach this strategy.
One thing I've noticed that hasn't changed all that much, though, is how company leaders still avoid social media like the plague.
Not a Social Scene-Stealer? That's OK.
Many people say they can't dance, never dance, hate to dance -- yet they still go to places where people dance, like parties and weddings. Why? Because they know that just attending these events doesn't automatically mean they're going to be at the center of a dance-off. They can be present without forcing themselves into anything too uncomfortable.
The same holds true for social media.
Plenty of leaders don't take advantage of their personal social media accounts for a variety of reasons: "I'm not a kid anymore." "I can't stand sharing personal stuff online." "I don't have time to waste on selfies and memes." "I just don't get it."
All are legitimate reasons for not embarking on a 24/7 social bingefest. But when it comes to the bigger picture of your company's content marketing and thought leadership, those excuses just don't hold up.
You don't have to dance like a fool to reap the benefits of social media; you just have to be present on the dance floor.
Content Has Evolved -- So Should Your Social Practices
Being present on social without any content for your accounts is the equivalent of being that creep who stands motionless on the edge of the dance floor, watching people and weirding everyone out. You should probably do at least a little something to show your humanity.
Thankfully, as a leader of a company that's creating content, you have fuel for your social accounts. And because content has evolved over the years, you should have plenty of this fuel. In the past, a company might put together a 400-word update, post it to its blog, and feel good about how it "did content" that month. Not anymore.
Audiences today crave rich, interesting content in various types and formats, from guest posts to valuable gated downloads to snappy videos to podcast material. And there are plenty of content marketing tools out there that have made it easier than ever for marketers to consistently deliver those kinds of content.
Still, one key factor tends to be missing in this equation: leaders' personality and social presence.
Social media plays a major role in branding and effective content distribution. Yet too many leaders sign up for Twitter, retweet a couple of articles, and forget the platform exists. Their philosophy? "The company account will take care of this. No point in having a personal account."
That kind of attitude may have worked in the past, but it doesn't anymore. Content has evolved; to get the most value out of your investment in it, your social media strategy has to evolve, too.
The Decade Called: It Wants You to Rev Up Your Social Strategy
Leaders who share their own -- and their companies' -- content on social can have a profound effect on their companies' overall investment in content. As a leader, when you share content, you facilitate a valuable connection between your brand and your audience members where they already live.
Plus, consistently sharing and being present on social can help you grow your following, which in turn means the reach of your content extends and the chance for building trust with your audience grows. Trust me, I know: With some high-quality content and consistent sharing, I've grown my Twitter following to more than 125,000.
Does this mean your marketing team should kick back and let you do all the heavy lifting yourself? Not at all. You can (and should) encourage your marketing team to share content on the company accounts. They're a primary source of sharing and distribution, and that's not going to change. But it does mean that you need to dust off that Twitter account that's been dormant for so long and give it a refresh. Who knows? You might just surprise yourself with a few cool moves you didn't know you had.