SOCIAL LEARNING PART FOUR. 6 tips for building authority SOCIAL LEARNING: THE COMPLETE GUIDES, FROM TOTARA LEARNING

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1 SOCIAL LEARNING: THE COMPLETE GUIDES, FROM TOTARA LEARNING PART FOUR SOCIAL LEARNING 6 tips for building authority by Totara Learning in association with Julian Stodd 1

2 We all want to be considered authoritative and influential. Organisations can confer formal authority and influence through titles and roles. But there s a new currency: Social authority. IT S FOR: Anyone aspiring to build social authority to be an influencer in their organisation and social network IT S ABOUT: 6 things you can do to build social influence and authority and how tools like Totara Social can help you. 1: Build a reputation through engagement 2: Be authentic 5: Ask for consent from the community 6: Volunteer to co-create 3: Curate and share 4: Tell your best stories 2

3 How is social authority different? Whilst formal authority is based upon our status and position, social authority is based on our activities and reputation, earned through our actions within and alongside our communities. Social media is a great leveller: it allows one individual with a compelling story to influence and be highly effective even if that isn t the authority of a global business. It s conversational, responsive, fast, magnetic and inherently based on the voice of an individual and the momentum it creates. Say something compelling and your colleagues are ready to listen. Set a tone of working out loud - sharing about what you ve learned, and where you ve made mistakes, and others will follow. Social authority is about leading by example: Share as I share. So what steps can you take to build social authority in your organisation, and encourage others to do the same? Here are some practical tips and habits you can form using social tools to build your authority and influence. 3

4 1. Build a reputation through engagement Reputation is the way the community views you and it s largely based on the consistency of your actions over time. It s how you engage with others. If you are the person who is always the first to be critical, then that s your reputation, which may be ok, but which may erode your social authority: who wants to be the butt of your criticism next time? In social spaces, our activities usually fall around posting and sharing things, responding to things and offering challenge, support and time. 4

5 We need to consider how we respond, when we respond, when we initiate action and how we give thanks. Consider these situations: Someone mentions you in a post: how do you engage and when? Someone posts a comment about strategy that is incorrect: how do you respond and when? Someone asks for help in an area that you understand: how do you respond? Someone reveals some confidential data: how do you respond? Someone is being mocked online: what do you do? In each of these moments, we can increase or devalue our social authority. So what s best practice in each case? Someone mentions you in a post If you respond, rapidly, to thank them, provide additional information or support them, you will improve your reputation. Unless you speak in an inauthentic tone of voice, which we will consider later. If you do nothing, you are also saying something: you re saying that you re disengaged or too busy to care. Many social influencers set aside specific times of the day to catch up on any mentions, they call out the specific person mentioning and thank them for the contribution. Manners make a massive difference in social engagement. Many people don t respond because they re not sure of the right thing to say, but the point of social spaces is that they are more immediate, less deeply reflective. You have to be unafraid to pitch in and say that you are thinking about it, or that you are not yet sure. Be unafraid to ask what other people think. Someone posts a comment about strategy that is incorrect: how do you respond and when? You can ignore it, respond privately or respond publicly. Doing nothing leaves the problem there. Engaging directly is conversational and means you set aside your mantle of hierarchical authority to engage directly. This is better than getting someone else to do it: delegation is hierarchical and formal in social media, people don t delegate. By engaging directly and, possibly, privately, you can provide guidance without rebuking, and show that you re suppportive. Doing it publicly may look like you re marking their work and is likely to disengage contributors. 5

6 Someone asks for help in an area that you understand: how do you respond? The currencies of the Social Age are generosity of time, expertise and resource. Being generous with any of these, without expectation of reciprocity, is a great way to build reputation: think of it like this. Investing in our communities is not a chore, it s an investment. If you can add links to useful resources, all the better. What goes around... Someone reveals some confidential data: how do you respond? Reporting them (using our formal authority) or publicly reprimanding them may be effective, but a private response in an authentic tone of voice may be better for our reputation. Again as in any other feedback channel, offering support and guidance is going to do more for your reputation than a stark policy slapdown. Someone is being mocked online: what do you do? Something like this requires several types of response: there may be formal processes in place in extreme cases, but as a leader, there are many times when we may need to make our position known in less formal ways. We can publicly express support, we can privately reinforce that and we can indicate if we feel a conversation is appropriate or not. But we have to do that as a member of the community, not a figure of authority. In any case, saying something will be better for reputation than doing nothing. 6

7 2. Be authentic - Find your social voice For many leaders, it s not a failure to understand the technology that acts as a barrier to engagement in social spaces, it s a fear of making a mistake. Or worse, not even understanding what the mistake even looks like. In social spaces, we need authenticity: we need to be true to ourselves, speak in a genuine voice and be humble enough to get things wrong. If we just quote the book, or say the things we think people want to hear, we are being inauthentic. Social is about conversations: about sense making together. It s a co-creative activity, but co-creation can only happen on a background of trust and authenticity. If we resort to formal authority or formal language, we kill the very thing we are trying to achieve Authenticity is about trust, consistency, about being predictable in how you respond. If either we or our organisations are erratic, it s hard to be authentic and impossible to build trust. IN PRACTICE: Work out loud and invite others to do the same, with Totara Social you can create and share a blog post with your group or the wider community. 7

8 3. Curate and share-with care You re known by what you share and curate. Are you the person who is constantly sharing a route map of your thinking and development, or are you sharing cat jokes. Both may be fine, but in different contexts and to different groups. Think before you share professionally as you re putting social authority at risk with each share. IN PRACTICE: HOW TO SHARE WITH TOTARA SOCIAL With Totara Social you can curate any type of content on your profile page, sharing articles you find insightful, formal courses you ve taken, and videos that colleagues might benefit from. You can also curate by asking questions of a group, then creating a blog post sharing the answers you get. Round-up posts with expert views are highly sharable and useful. 8

9 4. Tell your best stories Social influencers are effective storytellers. You need to interpret what you share for the audience. So don t just share the link to an article on Better Project Management, share it with the words I found this useful, particularly the piece on improving your weekly updates. I m going to try to do this better. It shows a willingness to learn and invites comments. IN PRACTICE: Read what gets shared most widely in your organisation or more broadly on social media. It will often be in the form of a story, e.g. Why I won t make that mistake again, or How we won a client by telling them a difficult truth. Good storytellers build followings and reputations. Follow influencers on networks and review what they share you can do this within Totara Social, as well as of course on Twitter and LinkedIn. PRO TIP: FIND STORIES WITHIN YOUR PERSONAL LEARNING NETWORK One of the benefits of social learning is that it allows you to pick up on trends and what is working for people in their field. It is possible to search trends on Google but in reality I tend to pick up on trends from what my network is talking about. An example for me is the rise of Gamification in learning. I can see that gamification is growing and being used effectively in a variety of scenarios and organisations simply through the comments of my PLN on social media. Con 9

10 5. Ask for consent from the community Social authority has to be earned. To earn it, you need to understand how the different communities work, build your reputation through consistent action - and with community consent. Social authority is about gaining the consent to lead. Consent from the community. When we act with this consent, it gives us a different form of power. Whether you are trying to effect change or just deliver an effective project, this social authority is worth the effort it takes to build. This consent will be different in different communities and spaces. Social tools like Totara Social allow you to be in multiple groups, but some are public and others hidden. The ways we gain our authority and the consent we are granted may be different in each. You can also build consensus through posing an idea or a question to the community. It s a way of showing that nobody has all of the answers and you want to tap into the wisdom of the community to get their views and experience. If you can build a reputation for building consensus and taking onboard the view of others, that can be a really positive step towards building social authority. 10

11 6. Volunteer to co-create Used right, social platforms like Totara Social facilitate co-creation, which is the lifeblood of a healthy community. Co-creation means you are putting your hand up to participate and help to move the discussion and actions forward. This may be in the context of a formal programme, for example agreeing to document findings and share them as part of an action learning programme. IN PRACTICE: You can t be involved in every co-creation project better to commit to a few and do them well. In Totara Social you can use the To do lists to keep momentum around activities. You can also join groups and get pushed reminders to help you stay on track with your commitments. 11

12 Takeaway Build authority by being helpful You can use the many functions of Totara Social to plan out your individual and group social collaborative strategy and how you will lead and facilitate this going forward: Gather together relevant files and useful assets for knowledge sharing Ask questions, share ideas about topics of interest to your community Share your knowledge with target groups using pages to display topics of interest Blog post reflections for yourself or share with others to co-create and contribute to the community Reshare content that other influencers share, amplifying their content Be helpful: answer questions from others and share resources 12

13 GET IN TOUCH: Contact Totara Learning or your Totara Partner to see Totara Social in action 13

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