Hand on your heart: When did you last tweet one of your reporter’s news stories? And when did you last have a conversation with one of your readers on Facebook? Today there is no valid excuse for you as a media leader not to be active in social media.

Still feel like a beginner? No problem. It’s easy: Just do it.

How important would you rank social media as a success factor for your publication? I’m guessing very few of us as in the media business would mark the “not at all” box in a survey.

Next question: How would you rate your own presence in social media from 1 to 10?

Well, if the answer to your first question was “important,” the answer to the second question should probably rate somewhere between 8 and 10.

Am I being harsh? Or are you thinking that social media presence is something that your social media department, marketing department, or reporters should focus on? Wrong.

If you want your reporters to be true ambassadors for your publication in social media, it all starts with you as a leader.

Are you still an egghead on Twitter? Well, that is just not good enough. Today, leadership in media is very transparent. Every word, image, and link you post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest will be scrutinised.

Do you link to more males than females on Twitter? What signals does that send to your audience about your gender awareness? Hint: Test yourself before someone else does.

Are you a vacation Instagrammer? Whenever you are nice, tanned, and relaxed on a wonderful beach somewhere in the world, you post pictures like crazy – but you forget to post the best first pages of your printed edition, your new news app, and your award-winning event.

Time to shape up. If you dont do the storytelling of your media business, who will?

Do you also forget to post pictures that are relevant to your brand’s audience, telling something important about your part of the world right now? And how would you rate yourself when it comes to having a sound and vivid conversation with your readers on Facebook? If you haven’t tried it much, start today.

But I must warn you: Once you are in the social media loop, you will never want to back out.

Every day I find some of our most important news stories there – a news story waiting to be told, something posted in someone’s latest Facebook post, or just a general feeling for the buzz and what your readers are talking about right now.

What stories are they sharing? What topics are in the air? And what important – or, for that matter entertaining stories are not being told, but should be?

Also, I’m grateful for the feedback we get on our already published stories. If we made a mistake, today, we get instant feedback on our errors when they occur on social media. That way, we can apologise and correct our mistakes instantly or, for that matter, argue why we chose to publish a story in a certain way.

The transparency and the dialogue with our readers makes us better.

For me, not being present on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, constantly having one ear to the social media ground, is unthinkable as a journalist and publicist in the year of 2015.

Social media has become one of my most valuable tools, not only as a journalist, but also as a leader. Facebook is a great opportunity to lead the way and set an example of how we proudly can share our best news stories with our audience.

A couple of hints for the beginner:

  • Be generous. Share good stories and recommend that your followers follow Twitter users you hold in high regard with the hashtag #FF (follow Friday) on Fridays.

  • Tell it first! If you are in the news business, it is your business to be first with a news flash or a comment when something important happens.

  • Follow others. Take the first steps to a new friendship. Don’t be shy. Don’t wait in a corner for others to follow you. Walk up and introduce yourself. In the world of social media, that translates to following and pinging people you would like to get in touch with.

There are tons of more hints to grow your audience and find the way to your success on social media. But the first and most important always starts with: Just do it.

A credible, firm media leadership in 2015 definitely includes your presence in social media so get out there. Ping me! Follow me (@fridaboisen), and of course I’ll follow you back. As transparent media leaders, let’s continue this discussion online on Facebook or Twitter.

See you there!