How great social media users inspire followers

A few years ago I first watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk, “How great leaders inspire action.” In his talk, he explained that to really make a difference, you need to explain to people not just what or how you do what you do, but why you do it. Clearly, that method worked because it changed how I live my life.

Besides being exceptionally enthralled by science and medicine, I also have a particular interest in leadership, connecting to others, and creating change. In college, I held leadership positions in my marching band and sorority, basing my actions as a leader on the belief that if people focused on why they should do something, they would be more likely to do it. This led to things like inspiring the entire sorority to work together restructure the organization, more people becoming involved, and more success overall.

Now, I place my focus on social media and blogging within the wonderful medical community that I have found. I write with hopes that I can help others and that I can somehow make a difference. I pay particular attention to how others promote their work as well, both good and bad, and learn from their actions.

It is these observations that have inspired me to write on how to effectively lead change and inspire others to follow your work because I believe that we all (myself included) can be much more effective in how we connect to others.

Follow Friday

The first place on social media I believe can be changed to be more effective is asking for followers and sharing others’ accounts. When I see a tweet of #FF followed by a list of twitter handles, if I don’t know who they are or what they post about, I’m probably not going to take the time to figure it out on my own and so I probably won’t actually follow them.

Instead, mention one account at a time and tell your target demographic why they should follow it. For example, @Jacawalk, does a great job of promoting @aftertiller here:

Untitled

In fact, it was good enough that I only found it because someone else had already retweeted it. 

Asking for shout outs

As I’ve gained more followers, I have been asked to help promote others’ work through my account. I have no problem helping promote others’ work IF it’s something I believe is worth sharing with my followers. But if you just give me the name of what you want me to promote (perhaps over and over), I don’t feel a need to promote you at all. In fact, it kind of makes me not want to ever promote it even if it’s something that I am already aware of and would have no problem sharing with my followers.

Instead, tell me (or whoever you want to help promote) what you do but also why you do it or why someone should follow you. That way, I will want to and can effectively share it with others. For example, I was contacted just a few weeks ago from someone I didn’t know to help promote a new website that I had never heard of. They did an excellent job of telling me why they do what they do and why they would like my help, which prompted me to check out the website and help get the word out.

Creating Content

Be more than just talk. Make your work worthy of sharing and reach others through people sharing your work not just your name. For example, I would much rather gain followers through people retweeting a good tweet of mine or sharing a link to my blog because it shares with others what they can see more of if they follow me. They can see who I am and what I do, and if I’m successful at putting my passion into what I write, they can see why I do what I do as well. Therefore, I put my effort into making what I write worth sharing instead of telling people why my writing is worth sharing.

The bottom line

Remember why you do what you do and share that with others. If you want people to follow you, get them to understand that and feel the same way that you do. Don’t just continually try to promote, but keep creating more worthy material to share.

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Hanna is a MD/PhD student at the University of Illinois and an aspiring physician scientist who aims to specialize in hepatobiliary cancers. She is also passionate about teaching, leadership, and advocacy. The energy she once used to pep up crowds as a college marching band member is now directed toward exciting and educating others about science and medicine, especially through her tweets at @MDPhDToBe and her blog at www.mdphdtobe.com.

Posted in General Interest

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