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How leaders can leverage six social media dimensions for employee engagement

Social Media Leadership for Engagement

Employee Engagement Social Media

Roland Deiser from the Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University and Sylvain Newton from GE wrote an insightful piece on the six social media skills every leader needs.  The six dimensions and skills outlined by Deiser and Newton are: producer, distributor, recipient, adviser, architect, and analyst. I will briefly describe the skills and outline some ways that a leader can apply each skill to employee engagement.

Producer. Leaders with high levels of social media savvy produce compelling and authentic content. They are willing to embrace imperfection and communication that is more direct and raw. Here are 3 examples of how leaders can leverage producing for employee engagement:

  • Spread the reach of your message and connection through blogs and videos.
  • Demonstrate your humanness through authentic communication.
  • Ensure that the compelling stories of your organization that glue employees to their work are told powerfully and repeatedly.

Distributor. Information comes from all levels of the organization and from inside and outside the organization. Distribute timely and helpful information to set the stage to co-create information:

  • Keep employees informed of what is going on both inside and outside the organization.
  • Publish a global employee engagement RSS feed on the company’s social media site.
  • Give employees the opportunity to comment and co-create information for new meanings and insights.
  • Post anecdotal comments from the employee engagement survey online for acknowledgement and further commenting.

Recipient. The leader of today must stay informed and can easily access information directly and automatically. Being a recipient means not only reading posts or viewing videos it also means replying, commenting, and linking.

  • Stay in touch with employee engagement information through Twitter searches, Google news feeds, and other automated ways to receive timely and helpful information.
  • Don’t just consume information — comment and add perspective and ideas to what you read
  • A good place to begin is a morning or evening scan of relevant blogs at the Harvard Business Review, Business Week, and Forbes blog sites.

Adviser. Social media is not just a personal issue, it is social. Ensure that you advise, enable, and support the social media literacy of the entire leadership team.

  • Leaders are employees and one of the things that they can engage in is value added social media interaction.
  • Encourage and educate other leaders and managers within the organization to develop and enhance internal social media savvy.

Architect. Play a role in structuring social media within the organization for openness, sensitivity, and accountability.

  • Being open and direct does not mean anything goes, balance openness with accountability, respect and sensitivity.
  • Understand the community can moderate much of the content on their own.
  • Ensure any organizational social media sites are attractively designed, compelling to visit, and easy to navigate.
  • Make use of how “glued” employee are to their smart phones to enhance and increase overall employee engagement through mobile technology.

Analyst. Leaders need to stay abreast of innovation and new trends. The Internet of Things means that about 50 billion devices will be connected by the year 2020.

  • Stay abreast of social media and social media will keep you abreast of what is going on inside and outside your organization.
  • Experiment with new methods of engagement based on mobile work and early technology, such as sociometers.

Conclusion. To read the original McKinsey&Company article by Deiser and Newton with examples from executives at General Electric, click here. Social media is here to stay and can become a powerful tool for employee engagement and strong organizations as we socially accelerate towards 2020.

David Zinger is a global employee engagement speaker and expert who uses the pyramid of employee engagement to help managers with engagement.


  1. Thanks, David, for the great summary of our article, and your useful annotations. Employee engagement is obviously a key area that greatly benefits from the technology, while, at the same time, engagement is driving social media utilization. I am sure you come across a lot of interesting practices in this respect – we would be grateful to hear of any great cases about the interplay of organizational social media literacy and employee engagement that you are aware of.

    Best, Roland

    PS: Please note that both Sylvain and I are not from McKinsey&Company; we were invited to contribute as guest authors. Sylvain is with GE, and I am with the Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University.

  2. Hello Roland:

    Please excuse my error in believing your were from McKinsey&Company and thank you for the clarification. I am just doing some work with a Southern Ontario Hospital. They have worked hard in installing social media into their way of working and just now they will begin surveying and working on employee engagement. I will be interested to see how they weave the two together and can keep you posted. The president and CEO is a big supporter of social media and is demonstrating her ability to work with the six dimensions.

    The other company is eMee a branch of Persistent in India. They specialize in the gamification of the HR functions within organizations. I think they are building to something very strongly and Siddhesh the CEO is a very sharp guy.


  3. Roland: I also made corrections where each of you were from in the body or the article.

  4. Thanks David – these sound like great examples. We intend to create a dialogue platform about our model which will be co-hosted by MKQ and the Drucker School, and we’ll invite thought leaders and execs alike from around the world to contribute. If we may, we’ll reach out to you once this is live.

    Thank you also much for correcting our affiliations, highly appreciated!

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