Remember the game of “follow the leader”? As a member of a large family, I remember how fun it was to lead my siblings (eight to be exact) through the woods, over the wall, and across the brook – scrambling, hopping, and mimicking all the way home. An adventure I led with glee until I relinquished my role and let them lead me.

In social media, like in childhood, everyone has the opportunity to lead.

Leading the way in social media is a curious position.

Especially on Twitter, you can’t be sure 1) if people will follow you, 2) who they are, and 3) exactly why you’re being followed to begin with. Plus, there’s the added annoyance of being followed by people who are only follow you so you’ll follow them. (Not sure they’re destined to be strong leaders with that strategy.)

As a leader, you’re glad followers chose you – whether it’s because of your scintillating copy, knowledge, personality, humor, celebrity, or exceptional ability to know what resonates with people. An intriguing premise plus real value seems to be the ticket to a legion of followers. Followers who in turn perpetuate your message and form new online communities.

Why follow?

On some level, a leader’s ideas are useful, interesting, or thought provoking enough to capture your imagination – and your loyalty as a follower. And in turn, you can integrate their ideas with your own. It’s communication at its most helpful.

The Internet has made discovering leading trends surprisingly simple. In fact, Twitter posts worldwide trending topics by the second. They’re what’s on people’s minds and fingertips at any moment – morning, noon or night. And followers beget followers as they ascribe to ideas that others follow. So while leaders may drive trends, followers fuel the engine.