Tuesday, May 28, 2013

CEOs, Social Media is Now Essential to Your Success

CEOs, do you feel overwhelmed by thousands of comments about you and your company on Twitter? Please don't panic, this is actually and opportunity for you to succeed in your job. Social media's explosive growth is changing the role of the CEOs. As a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program, I have identified several articles CEOs need to read.

 140 Characters of Risk: Some CEOs Fear Twitter talks about only a handful of high-profile CEOs are active on Twitter, despite pressure to be accessible. They mention the pressure of maintaining ideal public image and being responsible to the company. Also the article presents the adoption gap between CEO of different ages. Some younger CEOs such as Tony Hsieh has moved to Instagram to share photos. He believes this is one step forward compared to Twitter and Facebook.

Just 16% Of CEOs Use Social Media is a neat study the shows stats about CEO’s twitter usage. The study found that only 16 percent are active on social media channels, yet 71 percent of CEOs consider technology as the most important part of determining an organization’s future over the next three years, ranking ahead of even something as pivotal as a change in the economy.  “…This need for knowledge is an opportunity for the CMO to step up to the plate… organizations are still focused on understanding markets, not individual customers, with more than 80 per cent of CMOs relying on market research and competitive benchmarking.” The article suggests there is a good justification. This finding is crucial because the presence on social media is rally a necessity and soft power for future CEOs.

From my analysis of these two articles and my other studies at Northwestern, here are three action items I recommend you implement immediately.  They are:

1. Rethink what you can reach –Social media nowadays is just like going to a social event. You don’t want to lock your self at home and lose the opportunity to make meaningful connection with people, do you?

Time, fear, and an unknown ROI are some reasons CEOs don't use social media. Recent research reveals that CEOs believe that in the next five years social media will push past websites, call centers and channel partners to become the No. 2 way to engage customers after face-to-face communications. CEOs in 2010s should be aware that the benefit and the necessity of social media being a main communication channel to reach out all the stakeholders.  The social media experience is a brand’s persona building for their companies and rethink how many time a CEO should allocate to the No.2 communication channel of all.

2. Keep is Authentic and Intimate –Social media is all about who you are, what you do, and how you react to things.

Because they are not immersed in social media, these CEOs are in the uncomfortable position of having to rely on the counsel of less-experienced, Gen Y advisors. Some CEOs nowadays hire a team to come up with the twitter content. I would recommend just keep it genuine, take initiative, and be who you are. It’s always hard to take the first step, so as social media for CEOs. Practice to make perfect. It’s OK to apologize on social media.  Corporate leaders are humans too, so live with it.

3. Try a private Twitter account –In that way you can practice your social media skills in a risk free environment and you will not be overwhelmed too quick.

Not all CEOs are as outspoken. If the initial launch on Twitter is not on your short term list, then try a private that only your family and your close friends can see the twits. As you are more comfortable with twitting, move one step further: open your account to the public.

By following these 3 steps, you as a CEO can better sleep at night.  You will build a very positive image for your company as being responsible and approachable. For you, social media is also a smart personal branding strategy for you to success in your job.

Gary Wang is a master’s student in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. He has multiple working experiences in wine industry both in U.S.A and China. Follow her @gwang87. 

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