Are you too important to tweet?
“To be honest, I never go on social media” is a phrase we often hear from senior management in tech organisations as if it’s some sort of badge of honour. It’s like all social media is dismissed as noise and fluff that is somehow beneath them. And yet C level managers have a unique and powerful role to play in enhancing their company’s reputation and growing their business via engagement with social media.
David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard once said that “marketing was too important to be left to the marketing department.” I suggest that social media is far too important to be left to the social media ninjas. I suspect that won’t get me quoted on Wikipedia but I stand by it. Think about it. While we may disagree with Donald J Trump about his policies you cannot ignore the fact that his use of Twitter has been a game changer in connecting with middle America and getting him into power, even if his recent interventions have been farcical.
Contacts to die for but are they moribund?
The C-suite has an address book to die for. While your sales teams will be content marketing, cold calling and email marketing themselves into a frenzy to reach a decision maker at a large prospect you may find your CEO used to work with him or her in the past. They still get on but they may not have spoken for a few years. They may not be aware of what each other is up to and of any potential for collaboration. If the CEO is on Twitter and Linked in this gives them a chance to casually re-engage.
Authority comes from the top
The aforementioned social media ninjas, by their very job title, may not have the gravitas and clout of the C-level executive. They will know more about the power of social media than any member of the board and they will be the leaders of the future. But for now, you as CEO or COO carry authority. A post on linked in from the CEO is bound to get more engagement because it carries the authority of the business leader. Only you can do this….so do it!
Amplification; that’s the name of the game
Authority also means people sit up and take notice when you “comment”, when you “like,” when you “share.” When your team wins an industry award the social media reach will be enhanced and amplified by your approval and sharing. Equally when your content team has worked their keyboards off putting together a white paper or case study you can give it a helping hand by sharing it on social media. This lends both reach and authority and for case studies it also says to your customers that you value their business and co-operation in providing the testimonial.
Only you can be you
You have the credentials, experience and knowledge of a leader. You also will have the strong values that got you here in the first place. This is the authentic you. The social media teams can help you create that content that demonstrates your qualities but you need to join in the process and lend your personal approval via social media or it will just look like the cheerleading department at work again.
Not every CEO is a fan of Facebook or, if they are, would like to keep it intensely personal. Senior people get this. They are not going to pitch you on Facebook based on your family barbecue post. But we are all human beings and what’s wrong with a bit of personality in business? It’s up to your judgement how much you share and who you accept friend requests from but letting others see the human side of you and you getting a more rounded picture of them can go a long way in building business relationships. Who knows? You might even get on!
Don’t miss the party
I won’t pretend that social media is all fun and games in business and it can take time to get your head round it. But playing golf and going to networking events takes a lot longer. Recognise the unique role that you can play as CEO or other board member in social media and nobody likes being left out, do they?