As the CEO (or CFO, CMO, or any other C-level executive) you’re a pretty big deal. Your hard work has paid off and you’re seen as a thought leader by your customers, competitors, and employees. People want to hear what you have to say. You know you need to be where your customers are, but there’s already an incredible amount on your plate (note the aforementioned big-dealness). Can you really add social media as one more way to spend your time? We think yes – here’s why:
A CEO active on social media promotes:
Trust: According to a study by Mass Relevance, 59% of people are more likely to trust a brand that integrates social media. That same study showed that 75% of people talk about brands on social media, and 91% of those 18-34 take to social networks to discuss brands. Imagine how much that trust and customer-interaction will improve when your followers learn that your CEO is taking time out of her extremely busy schedule to engage with them, listen to them, and learn from them!
Intimacy: When you, as the CEO, interact with your customers directly via social media, you create a bond with them. You’re showing your customers you have made time for them, you care about what they have to say, and you are actively listening to their comments. This, in turn, creates a positive correlation between your customer and your brand.
Brand Awareness: When you’re the head honcho, you are your brand. You eat, breath, and sleep for your company. People see your name and think the brand, so what you say online will ultimately reflect on your company. As a recognizable name, the more you say about your company online, the more it will spread brand awareness.
Marketing: Work hand in hand with your marketing department to increase link sharing and exposure for your various marketing campaigns through social media. Adding a personal handle to the social media marketing efforts of your company will spread your reach even further.
TeamLeadership: If your company has a social media policy, having the people at the top endorse it (and lead by example!) will prove they take social media seriously, and could help invigorate staff to do the same – inviting internal brand ambassadors to take to the social channels to spread the good word about your company.
So, What’s Keeping You From Getting Social?
Time: CEOs are busy people. There’s no arguing that. And social media sometimes has a reputation for being a time-vacuum. But if you have an organized way of going about your social media presence, you’ll find that it is not that time consuming. Here are a few of our tips for keeping your time on social media short and sweet:
- Organize those you are following into lists, so you can search for re-tweetable comments, articles, and information with a purpose.
- Set up advanced searches to see how your brand is being mentioned so you can quickly scroll through the comments and decide which ones you’d like to respond to.
- Integrate news sources that line up with your industry and that you trust with your feed to share timely and appropriate articles with your followers.
- Have a plan. Know what you want to use social media for – do you want to engage with your customers, share industry knowledge, recruit potential team members, or share behind-the-scenes moments from the workweek? Know how you want to use social media, and you won’t waste any time thinking about what kind of post you want to share any given day.
Non-Compliance: You’ve heard the horror stories of posting from the “wrong” account and publicly embarrassing yourself and your brand. You know there are myriad rules and regulations from your industry about what someone at your level can and cannot share willy-nilly with the public. You’re afraid of making a mistake. We get that. Don’t worry – you can use social media to your benefit without creating a public relations nightmare. All it takes is some pre-planning and self-regulation, and you will have social media compliance handled.
- Get your marketing team involved. Find out what they’re doing and not doing for the brand, and get in line with how you want to connect with the company’s overall social presence.
- Filter yourself. If you’re particularly worried about tweeting inappropriately, make a list of words you don’t want to ever say, and create a filter for yourself.
Lack of Knowledge/Interest: You may think you’re not interested in social media. You’re a fan of literal person-to-person communication. You want the value of a handshake, eye contact, and good, old-fashioned human connecting.
- Keep time in your schedule for in-person coffee dates, lunch meetings, and networking events. But don’t be afraid to Tweet about your great meeting (if the topic is appropriate to be made public!) and how inspired it left you.
- When it comes to your business, you really can’t avoid the numbers – and the numbers show social media is where your customers are. The younger your consumer base, the more important it is that you be active on social media.
Examples in the Field:
Marissa Mayer: She’s the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company, AND she has a newborn baby. She still finds time to tweet – sharing her own musings and observations, as well as company info, new hires, and industry news.
Richard Branson: Founder and Chairman of Virgin Group, Branson is very active with accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, to name a few. He’s actually spoken to the importance of CEOs on social, saying that they “have the opportunity to set the bar” when it comes to social media use. His Twitter feed shares important moments and news for Virgin Group and all its entities.
Reed Hastings: CEO of Netflix; Hastings was investigated by the SEC for his July 2012 Facebook post announcing that Netflix viewers had enjoyed over 1 billion hours of content, as it was seen as a potential violation of Reg FD (Regulation Fair Disclosure). He was cleared of any wrongdoing in April of 2013, which led the way for more lenient rulings on how regulated information can be disseminated. (learn more about this here!)
Hastings shares company news, interesting stories, and tidbits about his life and travels on his Facebook page. Netflix officially announced to investors in mid April that the company (and CEO’s) social channels would be potential outlets for future disclosures.