HOW TO: Develop into a Leader on Twitter

A tweet from @GuyKawasaki last week included a link to a Forbes magazine article with this quote: “Leaders are increasingly thinking of how they can build the strengths of their teams.” Real Twitter leaders are also constantly thinking of how they can build the strengths of their team (also called followers).

How exactly does someone develop into a leader on Twitter? If you want to learn how to play basketball, you watch Michael Jordan. If you want to learn how to play golf, you watch Tiger Woods. It’s the same in social media. If you want to learn how to be a Twitter leader, you watch those who have already mastered it.

Twenty leaders on Twitter agreed to answer the question: What is your #1 tip for how a person can develop into a leader on Twitter? Of course, there are many additional people that deserve to be on this list, but this is a very special handful of people selected because they have helped me in developing my own social media leadership skills.

If you have a tip on how to develop into a leader on Twitter, please leave a comment below.

@Jason_Pollock – Jason Pollock – Followers: 62,602
“RTs are the best way to tell someone you like their tweets. If you want to give props to a tweeter then Retweet their content!”
In addition to marketing his movie, The Youngest Candidate like a marketing super genius on Twitter (#TYC), Jason also raised awareness about the Iran conflict. He is known as being part of the pulse of Twitter and he is a leader in the strongest sense of the word. Jason is also rated #38 on which is a list of the most powerful tweeters.

@mayhemstudios – Calvin Lee – Followers: 32,636
“Be true to yourself and stick to what you know. As you help people with useful links, articles, answering questions, you will be seen as value to the twitter community with your knowledge. People will trust in your judgments. Make sure to try and answer all @replies/DMs to you. Be conversational, fun and let you personality show through. That’s what draws people to you.”
Calvin tweets a lot, and it is obvious that his tweets are well thought through. They are full of great content, and he has been voted on some lists as being one of the most #followfriday’ed tweeple on all of Twitter.

@cheth – Chetan – Followers: 23,797
“Being a Twitter elite doesn’t mean ignoring others messages, or acting like celebs and not following back good tweeple…Twitter is not a money making machine. It’s a platform to connect and share with like minded strangers and convert them to your buddies.”
Cheth was one of the first people I followed when I got on Twitter. His knowledge always has been and continues to be valuable. He is the number one Twitterer in India, an innovative thinker and designer, and a progressive leader. Cheth is also rated #13 on which is a list of the most powerful tweeters.

@Kim – Kim Sherrell – Followers: 37,785
“Embrace change.” To become an effective leader on Twitter, Kim believes you need to stay flexible. “Real-time media moves very rapidly and there is no such thing as standing still.” She says, “Leading a community on Twitter is sort of like flying a plane that the ground crew and passengers are helping you to construct: mid-flight.” She compares it to working on a film where the lightening is perfect, the actors have their lines down cold, but at the last minute you lose a location or get bad weather. The director needs to move quickly to solve the problem which might mean re-scripting a scene, or jumping ahead in the production schedule to make the best use of time. Kim says, “Developing a willingness to stay flexible so you can react creatively to challenges is what really sets the leaders apart.”
Kim lives, breathes and understands social media inside and out. Her leadership shines through every tweet and those that follow her look forward to her insight daily. Kim is also rated #3 on which is a list of the most powerful tweeters.

@Minervity – Richard Darell – Followers: 17,574
“Life Won’t Wait For You To Make Up Your Mind.”
Richard, known as a creative genius to those that follow him, is the only person I’ve ever seen that can transfer such inspiring positive energy through 140 characters. He is a dynamic visionary who seems to always be one step ahead of the crowd. He is a gift to those that follow him. “Life Won’t Wait For You To Make Up Your Mind,” a popular Richard quote, simply encourages people to make the most of every single day. Don’t sit on the sidelines of life, go for your dreams! Richard is also rated #37 on which is a list of the most powerful tweeters.

@ShellyKramer – Shelly Kramer – Followers: 15,078
“My #1 tip for being a leader in the social media realm is no different than being a leader in real life and that’s to focus on being a giver. I’m a huge believer that you get what you give in this life that we’re blessed with, and what you give ultimately comes back to you a hundredfold. So, whether we’re talking about real life or life in the various arenas that comprise social mediums, for me, giving is key. That means reaching out with a kind word when someone is having a bad day. Sharing industry-related links and information with others on a regular basis. Helping support people and their various causes and undertakings, whether it’s raising money for a charity, launching a new record, or helping to get readers to a particular blog post. It can mean providing links to breaking news or a product review or an answer about something as mundane as removing a stain from a garment. Social mediums have become the go-to place for people to share, engage, learn, etc., and it is the giving nature of those societies that makes them so amazingly, awe-inspiringly powerful.”
Wow, as if that explanation wasn’t enough, I just want to add that Shelly’s power of influence and leadership comes from her own diversity. She relates to the most successful business people as well as the mommy who needs advice. She wears many different hats, and it’s from that unique place that she draws and attracts strength in her leadership.

@dudeman718 – Joseph Cannizzaro – Followers: 10,213
“You are the editor and chief of your Twitter page. Quality control begins and ends with you! Give people a reason to follow you. Try to stand out in some way. Find your niche and excel in it. It’s called social media for a reason. Engage your followers/follows! Don’t broadcast into a void. Be yourself. Be honest. People can tell if you are phony. Have fun!”
Joe is a great leader because he has the ability to make others feel like if he can do it, they can too. He was one of the first people I ever followed. I learned from him back then, and I still learn from him today.

@TrendTracker – Glen D. Gilmore – Followers: 50,842
“Be yourself. Listen, learn, share, follow, lead. Develop a niche, but stray a little and have fun.”
Glen also has a unique leadership style. He uses DM frequently, so he maintains a bit of mystery to most people. He carefully crafts each tweet and many people view him as a natural leader. He also has a great sense of humor. Glen is rated #34 on which is a list of the most powerful tweeters.

@joycecherrier – Joyce Cherrier – Followers: 9,288
“I try to always fill a need. Does someone need a RT, a hello, a health tip, a charity shared, a laugh because of a bad day, A YaY!! for something.”
Based on RTs, Joyce is quite the leader. She is always positive and transparent, two huge aspects of being a social media leader. She has captured her followers’ attention, and they all love her for it.

@KendraThornbury – Kendra E. Thornbury – Followers: 5,165
“Be yourself! Offer who you are and your gifts with enthusiasm. Authenticity attracts.”
Let’s hear it for some right brained inspiration! That is exactly what Kendra offers. In a sea of people who claim to be Law of Attraction experts, Kendra delivers with solid tweets that permeate your heart and soul. She has an authenticity that is sold as a rock. Ask anyone who follows her, she is a leader.

@Nurul54 – Nurul Ambia – Followers: 12,870
“The most powerful way to be on twitter is simply to be present to others; promote love, inspiration and joy; be yourself!”
Nurul is another one that has a very unique style of leadership. In her own way, she focuses on spreading love, truth and well being to all, but with a splash of self-confidence. She is right there to lend a helping hand or lead a group in creating a trending topic for the day.

@StaciJShelton – Staci J. Shelton – Followers: 8,460
“Be authentic and true to yourself. Leaders blaze trails. Be memorable by being fully yourself, consistently. Your tweets should reflect you, your brand and be interesting.”
Staci has been a leader on Twitter since the beginning. As her bio says, she is a professional encourager, and this shows in every tweet she sends. She is strong in her beliefs and never waivers. She is a leader, inside and out.

@Flipbooks – Blair Semenoff – Followers: 6,523
“Develop your niche. Create something that makes you stand out amongst the others and believe in yourself.”
Blair sends amazing tweets all day long. He never stops. Every single one has great content. His RTs are through the roof. This raises the question: If someone is a master of finding good content to tweet, does that automatically make them a leader on Twitter? I don’t know the answer, I just know that I can’t imagine my TweetDeck without Blair.

@katjaib – Kat Jaibur – Followers: 3,025
“Be interested in others. Make them feel seen & appreciated. And don’t be afraid to engage with anyone.”
Kat is a perfect example that you don’t have to have a crazy number of followers to be considered a leader on Twitter. Based on her RTs and her inner circle of Twitter friends, she is doing just fine positioning herself as a leader. Her attitude is taking her places that most people could only dream of. Kat is engaging and sincere, leading by example every step of the way.

@THEDIAMONDCOACH – Kimyon – Followers: 4,118
“I’m just being my authentic self. If I’m a leader for that, then I embrace my gift.”
Kimyon is a great illustration of how important transparency is when developing our social media leadership persona. She is authentic to a fault, and it serves her well. She is on Twitter daily offering advice and her positive energy. She is a leader because she does not give this advice in an overpowering manner (management) but rather in a gentle coaching manner (leadership). She’s one of a kind.

* All stats were current at the time of writing.
* Twitter whale photo courtesy of @dache.