Young leaders have found a powerful partner in social media — from finding business partners via a tweet to mentoring and managing work on Whatsapp — and are fast becoming influencers themselves. Social media brings out a humane, authentic side to business, these young leaders say.
“Social platforms provide a great opportunity for leaders to not just broadcast their perspectives, but to listen, connect and engage with individuals at a scale not possible before,” says Rekha M. Menon, chairman of Accenture India, who has 130,000+ followers on LinkedIn and 4000+ Twitter followers. With digital media, a leader’s reach has broadened and deepened to a much larger audience instantly, she says.
Swati Bhargava, co-founder of Cashkaro, is active on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. She has 25000+ followers on Instagram, which she also uses to connect with team-members. “I let them into my life, and they let me into theirs,” she says.
Bhargava has 30,000 connections on LinkedIn – the maximum allowed – and once got in touch with a major e-commerce platform through a tweet. Recently, she even downloaded TikTok. “I think corporates, especially young leaders, need to understand this medium,” she says, although admitting she may not post content on TikTok.
Arun Pattabhiraman, global vice-president (growth and marketing) at Freshworks, who has 11000+ LinkedIn followers, says, “I use it not just to build my personal brand, but to also help others in the network who reach out for career and professional advice or support.”
For Dharmil Sheth, the cofounder of Pharmeasy with 5000+ LinkedIn followers, platforms such as LinkedIn and Instagram help him to showcase the effort that goes on “behind the scenes” at the company. Busy schedules also mean that bite-sized information on social media is a quick and easy way to keep abreast of the latest market trends.
Rahul Garg, CEO of Moglix with 6000+ LinkedIn followers, follows a number of other influencers like Bill Gates, and networking groups. “I live with my phone,” says Akshay Mehrotra, CEO of EarlySalary, who is on the phone for about six hours daily as most work has shifted to Whatsapp and business dashboards are now available on cellphones.
Young leaders are also using their hefty social media following to boost the visibility of colleagues and partners, and keep them motivated.
Varun Jha, chief marketing officer of Zoomcar with 3000+ LinkedIn followers, posts encouraging comments on colleagues’ and partners’ work, as well as personal replies to others’ comments about his own work. Bhargava of CashKaro posts product recommendations related to any brand that she has tried out, while Pattabhiraman of Freshworks puts up job postings, posts about the company’s activities and the occasional news piece – including one on fixing social media addiction. A real concern for these young leaders is how information overload and screentime are taking over people’s lives.
“One strategy is to meticulously choose the content preferences on various platforms and subscribe to sites like AFAQs etc… and receive only the most relevant updates,” says Jha.
They use the Do-Not-Disturb or ‘downtime’ feature on phones very often. Bhargava of Cashkaro stays away from her phone in the morning when she does yoga, meditation and chanting, and during dinner-time. Social media is also accommodating the needs of young leaders.
Sudeep Singh, the CEO of GoWork with 3000+ LinkedIn followers, says that most of his interactions happen on Whatsapp, but he uses subscription-based encrypted messaging app Confide for super-confidential and high-value communication. Although young leaders are socialmedia savvy, they draw the line when it comes to their children. Most let children use only iPads, and not more than for an hour or two.
Nishant Pitti, CEO, Easemytrip, ensures he doesn’t use gadgets around his family, and found validation for this practice when he noticed that a friend of his young daughter always came over on Sundays to play. The reason being, the girl’s family was mostly on their phones and didn’t really talk to each other much.
EarlySalary’s Mehrotra, however, has a different take. He restricts his daughter’s screen use, but also wants to teach her to code. “That’s my next project.”