Tweet With Purpose: Digital Student Leadership

Hand-Drawn Twitter Logo by Shawn Campbell

Hand-Drawn Twitter Logo by Shawn Campbell

Social media and leadership are two of biggest passions, and for the last few years, much of my involvement on and off campus have focused on developing my skills in social media management and leadership development. Imagine my delight when I first read Josie Ahlquist’s blogpost “What Is A Digital Student Leader?” and the amazing discussion that surrounded it within the student affairs and student leadership communities online. 

I’d never considered how two of my biggest interests could be combined and how leadership could be expressed through social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and much more. Having now read most of Josie’s blog posts, this emerging field of digital student leadership is one I want to join in on the conversation, especially giving the student’s perspective of it.

So what can student leaders gain from social media? My biggest reminder to people when it comes to best practices for being online is keeping the idea that social media is an extension of you. Whatever you say or do on social media is inherently connected to you as a person. If you wouldn’t say it in real life, don’t tweet/post/blog/vlog/vine/instagram it.

"Social media has taken over! I use social media as a conversation tool, as an advertiser, an organizer - I can't imagine a day without it. SLs wanting to branch out to a new and larger audience should totally learn more about it."

“Social media has taken over! I use social media as a conversation tool, as an advertiser, an organizer – I can’t imagine a day without it. SLs wanting to branch out to a new and larger audience should totally learn more about it.”

However despite the usual caveat of social media, it can also work the other way. Using social media extends your reach to learn more, connect to new people and develop your skills as a leader and within what ever interests you.

Learning how to use social media to reflect who you are as a person can be hard at times but one way to help develop your personal style and persona on social media is to reflect on your values as a person and values.

In many leadership development settings, the concept of values is a very important one. Focusing on what you, as a leader, believe in is important to figure out what type of leader, team player and follower you want to be is.

"Social media gives you unprecedented access to thought, opinions, information, articles and ideas from around the world. Further, you can tailor your PD to what you want to learn by who you follow/friend, using lists and RSS feed, and choosing what you click on."

“Social media gives you unprecedented access to thought, opinions, information, articles and ideas from around the world. Further, you can tailor your PD to what you want to learn by who you follow/friend, using lists and RSS feed, and choosing what you click on.”

For example some of my leadership values are community, empowerment and education. Through both my projects in real life and through my accounts on Twitter and blogs, I make sure I promote my communities, I empower other people to take steps up and I believe in helping others learn.

As a student of leadership theory, my instant reaction when I started reflecting on the concept of digital leadership was to try to compare it to some of my favourite theories I’ve had the pleasure of learning through my Leadership class and others.

Josie Ahlquist's Diagram of the Social Change ModelBefore reading Josie’s post on the “Social (Media) Change Model” I was already making connections between the famous seven C’s of positive social change and my knowledge of social media.

Social media has expanded the way the way student leaders are able to learn about their field, get their ideas out and connect with other leaders and mentors on the web. Social media is an invaluable resource that student leaders can plug into to work on their personal and professional development.

There are a number of blogs, Twitter accounts and people on social media that are willing to connect to talk about leadership, student life, ideas for events and so much more. Reach out, find your voice and become connected to a community.

Student Leader Collective Logo

Love the crew at #SLChat

Shameless plug time: I am part of the blogging team at the Student Leader Collective, an awesome group of student leaders from around North America who talk about leadership within university settings. They host a Twitter chat ever Tuesday at 7PM EST, and run a blog that sends out posts numerous times a week. Make sure you check it out!

What do you think about this concept? Any thoughts about how student leaders can use social media? Share them below!

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