Water Over the Falls: Csuite and Social Action

Im going to just assume that the water is going over the falls, in one way shape or form ….soon because of 3 links in the last few weeks — one from from McKinsey, one from Hubspot and one from the Huffington post.  They are embedded here.  Forget for a minute the arguments about whether the CEO has time for social media or that he/she has a business to run and employees to spend time with.  Indeed the CEO has a lot of responsibilities and time limitations– it is why that individual is the CEO, and is often paid accordingly.

  • There are as few as 5.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs on Twitter. In fact, according to a study conducted by CEO.com and DOMO, as of June 2013, a whopping 68% of Fortune 500 CEOs did not have any social presence whatsoever — even on LinkedIn, the CEO social platform of choice.

Why CEOs and the Csuite Eventually Go Social:  This is beyond marketing.  If fundamentally, the CEO embodies the brand and has an interest in customers, as well as the business organization – one could suggest what better place than social media for the CEO to gain real time perspective and commentary in relation to his or her job.  In fact, according to IBM’s CEO study, during the next several years CEOs expect social media to rise to the second most important way businesses connect with customers (with traditional 1-on -1 meetings retaining the number #1 spot).

Here are some more reasons why I think the water is over the falls and the shoe will drop, thanks to Huffington Post:

  • a new study released by BRANDfog suggests that social CEOs are better leaders who can strengthen brands, build trust in products and services, demonstrate brand values, and communicate accountability — all by simply being on a social network.
  • The big take-away: People are more likely to buy from you if your CEO is on social media.
  • 71 percent of US respondents and 61 percent of UK respondents agree that a company whose C-Suite executives and leadership team use social media as a public relations channel to openly communicate about its core mission, values and purpose is more trustworthy.
  • 77 percent of US respondents and 69 percent of UK respondents agree that executive use of social media fosters brand transparency.
  • 83 percent of US respondents and 73 percent of UK respondents believe that CEO participation in social media can build better connections with customers, employees, and investors.
  • 77 percent of US respondents and 68 percent of UK respondents believe that executive use of social media creates a channel for authentic engagement with a company’s stakeholders.
  • Executive engagement in social media can mitigate risk.
  • 84 percent of US respondents and 76 percent of UK respondents believe that social media is an effective way to monitor conversations about a brand online and to help brands prevent potential reputation crises.
  • 79 percent of US respondents and 68 percent of UK respondents believe that having socially active C-Suite leadership team can mitigate risk before a brand reputation crisis occurs.

Social media is not like traditional media or even just blog interviews or company blogs or vlogs where the message can be scripted, controlled and contrived.  One has seen lots of brand train wrecks on Twitter and Facebook.  That space for lack of control, error and push back, coupled with the unprecedented access through a network like Twitter can give many company organizations strong rationale for pushing back on Executive involvement in social media.   It can also make social media a scary place for many CEOs who are used to controlled and managed interactions. So rather than the falls, what can we do to make it flow….

water flowsCorporate/Executive Communications Can Make this Work: As I suggested in “Tracks to the Future” this is a space where the executive communications/corporate communications team can bring real value to today’s business organization and its leadership team.  So, here is what the communications team can and should be doing to support the CEO and others from the Csuite as they take to social media…no need for the crash of a waterfalls, just make it flow:

  1. The Corporate communications team should be prepared to outline to the CEO the kinds of things he or she is going to see and experience with respect to the Company, your brands, and industry – the listening data should make it clear the kind of things people talk about and should be used to prep your CEO.
  2. The Corporate communications team should be in great position to identify and recommend the key objectives for c-suite social involvement:  is it connecting with customers; business sector thought leadership; supporting employee connections in social media and reinforcing what they are up to by Retweeting employees; is it to connect with other CEOs and business networks….lots of choices to make your mark!
  3. The corp comm team should ensure other parts of the business are on board to support the CEO with answers to customer questions and a triage program for customer complaints that come the CEOs way — and By the way, traditional service levels likely don’t cut it.  You need real time support here.
  4. The communications team should have a list of Twitter and or other social accounts that the CEO should immediately follow based on the decisions made about the objectives for the CEO in social media
  5. The communications team should have a set of links and interesting content also related to the objectives enabling the CEO to launch in social media with his/her point of view and sharing links he/she thinks are noteworthy
  6.  The corporate communications team should know how best to set up the CEO for success and ease of use in terms of tools and habits that will work best for the CEO (ie a hootsuite or a bitly or native web browser with some plug ins…what works for your Executives)
  7. The communications team should let the CEO know that these efforts will be measured.  What business leader doesn’t like measurement and metrics? 🙂  A plan to review the metrics and success should also be put in  place and the communications team should lead the measurement, analysis and determine course corrections moving forward
  8. You should be delivering a special and sophisticated social media training for Executives just as you do media training – obviously the program is not the same.  Social media training is not simply media training in a new context.  It is business communications in a different context so matter to address might include things like: the conversational nature; one-on-one connections; the concept of “bridging” in media interviews will have a whole new context; what kind of customer support effort is in place to be delivered for the inquiries hitting the CEO or Executive; and how to identify the customers and followers you want to be connected with.
  9. Here are some other pointers to think about
  10. what would you add to this list?

While the CEO and Csuite presence in social media may be considered optional today, I doubt that will be the case in our future.   Being prepared with a gameplan ensures not only success for the Csuite but for your business, and the communications team.  What else should we think about doing to be ready…and supportive

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