“A leader leads by example not by force.” – Sun Tzu
Reputation and visibility are the key to successful social media marketing, particularly for your personal brand. You enhance your reputation and visibility by being a thought leader. As a leader, you want to exemplify the principles and practice of sound leadership.
We can interpret Sun Tzu’s advice to lead by example, as meaning that to establish yourself as a thought leader you need to set an example. This might mean that you post original and relevant content on your blog. Or you thoughtfully comment on other people’s blogs. Similarly, if you are working to build your reputation on Wikipedia, write interesting articles and carefully edit others.
In this instance we can interpret Sun Tzu’s meaning of force as being heavy-handed and over-bearing in social channels. People who spam LinkedIn discussion boards with posts to their own Web pages or blog posts will be shunned by the group. Tweet nothing but spammy links and people won’t follow you. Users who dive straight into Wikipedia just to post links are likely to be banned by the community.
Other forceful approaches, such as when posting personal attacks or aggressive comments on a blog, are likely to be shouted down by other users. On a discussion board, such a user will be flamed (subject to hostile and insulting comments). Force in these cases will lead to loss of credibility and alienation.
We can summarize Sun Tzu’s lesson to lead by example and avoid force:
- Doing what you would like others to do
- Do only what you wouldn’t mind others doing to you
Post 1 in the Sun Tzu series: Know your enemy and yourself to succeed in social media