The question is no longer whether CEOs should or shouldn’t make use of online networking platforms – it’s why haven’t they started? These days companies aren’t just managed and influenced by what happens inside office walls, but also outside of it. Social media interaction is arguably second to face-to-face interaction when it comes to the preferred means of communication.
When you think about a social CEO, the usual suspects spring to mind: Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer and maybe Jeff Weiner – all of them American. It is time for UK companies as well as the rest of the world to jump on the bandwagon in order to strengthen their company from the inside out as well as the outside in. When realising the power social media holds, it would be silly not to use it to your leadership advantage.
“Effective use of social media by C-suite executives is more the exception than the rule these days. Few CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are personally engaged with social media. And this is shortsighted, because social media is much more than communication took – it’s also a vehicle for effective CEO leadership”. –Media Post
For a company to show their power and influence, they need to be able to display their relevance within their particular niche. It is one thing to stay on top of market trends, but are they effectively communicating with their following and audience?
Through the ages communication has been the key factor in building a brand’s success. Executives want to know if the needs of the clients and investors are being met. In the past they didn’t have these tools to their disposal, but now social media is the near-perfect tool. What is relevant today is communication through social media platforms, and CEOs need to show that they are leading from the front.
Scottish born online media mogul, Pete Cashmore, is a perfect example of using this medium to its full potential and in effect showcasing relevance. As the CEO of Mashable he understands the importance of constant change and development in order to stay relevant.
“In an era when marketing genius is measured in Facebook likes and Foursquare check-ins, [Pete Cashmore] is supremely well connected. Considered by some to be the most influential voice on Twitter, he counts more than 3 millions followers on his Mashable feed. –Success
Social media is the perfect platform for CEOs to get in touch with every individual relating to their company or industry. CEO of Virgin Group, Richard Branson knew exactly how to play this position to his advantage when he put his social media habits to use with asking his 2.3 million Twitter followers to pose questions about the company using hashtag #AskRichard. This is of course on top of his frequent apperances on Google Hangouts, YouTube, blog posts and thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn.
CEOs and executives are empowered by social media to establish a certain company culture and ‘voice’ for their organisation. When the CEO of a company understands the importance of being active on social media platforms, this will put their brand and their company in a more competitive position by allowing them to communicate with each and every follower directly.
Just like people want to follow their favourite celebrity’s every move, they want to know what is going on at the head of the companies they have invested in. This is where transparency and online credibility comes in. In order to gain the trust of the masses, they would want the CEO to share important information or reveal certain struggles they might have.
Social media allows these company leaders to showcase their damage control through communicating these problems with their following. This is the ideal way for a company to manage their public relations instead of leaving it to the journalists to fabricate the ‘latest news’. By being active on social media these leaders can blindside the press and media by sharing information from the horse’s mouth.
“While a company’s stock price was once the sole indicator of great leadership, there is increased emphasis on CEO visibility, accessibility, and agility in crisis management. Social media forces companies to become more transparent- in what they communicate to the public and in the amount of information they disclose”. –Media Post
Current CEOs have the chance to fight the stereotype of inactive company leaders. Instead of having the public think of a CEO as someone who jet-sets the world or stays in the office until the early hours of the morning, he/she could now showcase their humanity. (Unless of course the CEO is Richard Branson who does both).
Believe it or not, but people are interested in the smaller details of others’ lives. They would like to know when Soundcloud’s CEO, Alex Ljung quit smoking:
Oh and forgot to tell you twitter: quit smoking? Check.
— Alexander Ljung (@alexanderljung) August 29, 2013
Social media is no longer just for the marketing interns or the talent acquisition team, rather it should be embraced fully by the person at the top and they will in turn inspire the rest of the organisation to be more social.