As a regular user of social media to both engage with and listen to clients, peers and colleagues, I’m often surprised by the silence that descends from offices of my fellow CEO’s from around the globe and I’m not alone.
Earlier this year, Fortune released the finding of its ‘Social Register’ – a look at how Fortune 500 company CEO’s are (or more accurately – are not) using social media to engage with their staff and market and the outtakes spoke volumes.
In fact, it was found that just 39% of Fortune 500 CEO’s were active on any social media platform at all – a vastly smaller percentage than the average population and some might say – a lost opportunity.
Marketing experts Weber Shandwick agree.
The US-based company recently asked 630 executives across 10 markets about the social participation of CEO’s and the results were overwhelmingly in favour of a strong social media presence. Of those interviewed:
- 76% believe it’s a good idea for CEO’s to be social with 73% searching to see what their CEO is saying.
- 80% believe social media is a good way to share news and information about the company.
- 78% believe it has a positive impact on the company’s reputation.
This flies in the face of outdated logic which states that social media makes you vulnerable and an easy target for trolls.
There is certainly the fear that saying the wrong thing could ignite a firestorm of negative publicity and potentially damage your company’s reputation but here’s the thing – conversations about your company are happening on social media whether you’re aware of them or not. You can choose to turn a blind eye or you can embrace the opportunity to create a voice and help form the sorts of conversations you believe your company should really be having.
For the most part, CEO’s are getting better at doing this however it’s not enough to simply have an account. Engagement is key and that means daily interactivity with your online community.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is a prime example of someone getting it right. Within moments of being announced as Microsoft’s CEO he began tweeting…and hasn’t stopped.
Whether attending an event or sharing his thoughts on a sporting result, Satya provides his followers with regular commentary that is both professional and personal. His online activity provides a ‘friendly’ face for Microsoft, giving one of the world’s largest organisations a truly relatable edge. That’s what social media is all about.
Here at State Trustees I feel it’s my job to communicate as openly, honestly and as freely as possible, that includes engaging with our staff, clients and the Victorian public via social channels.
To be good at what I do and to honour the position I hold, I need to be tuned in and that means listening to what is being said and actively contributing to conversations where appropriate. It also means leading conversations about things I feel passionate about such as higher education, leadership, transformation, legacy, genealogy and protecting elder Victorian’s from the under reported criminal act of financial elder abuse.
Those of you who know me well will know I’m an avid user of both LinkedIn and Twitter to connect and engage, however, at State Trustees we’re constantly exploring the different ways we can use social media to best serve our clients. It’s an ongoing conversation that shows no sign of abating as we press on into the digital age.
I’m excited about what the future holds as new platforms come to market making it faster and easier for each of us to participate in real and meaningful dialogue.
After all, the future is very much a social one.
You can read more about Fortune’s ‘Social Register’ here http://fortune.com/2016/01/25/social-media-ceo/ and more about Weber Shandwick research here http://www.webershandwick.com/news/article/the-social-imperative-for-ceos#social