POPin Blog

Becoming a Social CEO

It’s no secret…the vast majority of Fortune 500 CEOs don’t use social networks. Those that do are mostly only on LinkedIn. We’ve talked about how few use Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), or Google (GOOG) Plus. But this begs the question: in an increasingly connected world, why are top executives so disconnected? Lots of commentators and pundits have theories on this topic, but it’s safe to say that CEOs are still keeping their distance because:
  1. Not enough time
  2. Uncomfortable with transparency
  3. Greater risk
  4. Resistance to change
But more likely its simple: fear and lack of perceived value.We fear what we don’t yet know and understand, and CEOs (especially Fortune 500) just aren’t making time for what they don’t see value in – and surely these CEOs don’t see value in spending time on social networks. They think they have better things to do. But let’s think about this…the bigger value to social media for business isn’t in the talking, it’s in the listening and inspiring engagement at a company level. CEOs can usenew actionable social media to listen to their customers, competitors, competitors’ customers, and employees. They can discover new products, new markets, and new opportunities. More importantly they can improve engagement because the team will feel empowered when they know their leader is listening and acting on those conversations. Once they start talking, they can tell their story – provide thought leadership, and attract new partners, vendors, talent and customers. They can be the spokesperson for their companies online the same way they are the spokesperson offline. It would stand to reason that CEOs who use social media are growing their businesses, attracting lifelong customers, generating exposure for their companies and closing new deals. As consumers become more social savvy, so must company leaders. Your employees are on social networks. Your customers are on social networks. Your shareholders are on social networks. Your nimble, startup competitors are on social networks. If you’re not on these social networks, you not only risk looking like you’re out of touch, you risk actually becoming out of touch. So what to do next? Here are 3 tips from a recent Forbes article on getting started:
“1. Do It. If you’re merely going to set up social media profiles and then do nothing with them, that’s another reason to avoid social media altogether.” “2. Do It Yourself. If you’re not going to control your own social media profiles, then you shouldn’t be on social media. Being social does not mean tasking your marketing department with setting up social media profiles with your name on them and posting content as if they were you.” “3. Do It Now. Yes, we know what you’re thinking. “This sounds interesting; I’ll have to look into this next week.” Hmm, sounds like that’s code for “I don’t want to admit to myself that I’m scared to do this, afraid I’ll look like an idiot, and so I’m going to use the excuse of being too busy and put it off indefinitely, hopefully forever. Look at this as an opportunity, not an obligation. “
Bottom line…when done right, CEOs have the opportunity to use social platforms to amplify their company message and achieve more influence than even some media outlets. There’s no reason to fear going social. If anything, be more afraid of nimble competitors going social and quickly catching/passing you.