The first is a study conducted by PR firm Weber Shandwick called “Socializing Your CEO”. That study found that a shockingly low percentage of CEO’s maintain their own social media profile. They go on to say that “removing Wikipedia [entries] leaves the online CEO space rather barren – only 36% are engaged through their company websites or in social media.”
The accompanying whitepaper goes on to prescribe 6 “Rules of the Road” in order to socialize your CEO. The one that caught my eye was #4 “Develop a C-suite social media strategy”. They prescribe that “c-level executives should strategically select social media outlets to get the company point of view across…”
Then, the second piece is an article in Harvard Business Review called “What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?” This is a piece directed at C-Suite executives extolling the benefits of leveraging social media and providing an outline of why it’s so important to both them and their company.
Really? Didn’t we just finish our brand’s social media strategy? Okay… sigh… File/New/WordDoc…
I think I Want To Twit
We’ve all been there. We’re happily jamming - mid-morning in the office. The Starbucks Venti latte just kicked in – and we’re in the zone. The new White paper is just awesome. The analytics report just came in from the Web team and we’re rockin’ it. The PR agency just called and the analyst event is all set and under-budget. Even the VP of Sales just called with nothing but praise about the new demand generation program.
Okay, maybe that last one is a bit much….
Anyway, we’re having a great morning – and then it happens. There’s that soft rapa..tapa..tap tap (shave and a haircut… two bits) knock on our door and there he stands; the CEO of the company. “He never comes down to this end of the building. Why is he here?” you think as you fumble to turn down Pandora, and blurt out just a little too loudly.. “oh.. hey there.. Hi… How are ya..”.
He holds up a rolled up copy of the latest Harvard Business Review magazine in his hand, and waves it like a wand. “I think….” he says in a tone that’s not quite a question, but not quite a statement either, “that it’s time for me to start tweeting and blogging. You know…. So, let me know how we do that.” And with that, he’s gone before you can even say “um, yeah okay”.
Ready. Set. Tweet.
So, according to the Web Shandwick study, some of the main reasons that CEO’s aren’t as socially minded are because
…they’re not convinced of the ROI
…they’re worried about perceived risks of engaging with consumers directly
…and they concerned about real risks of legal and investor relations issues.
So, assuming that we’ve got those three things covered – what are some of the best practices we can start with to set up our new “engager-in-chief” so that he or she has the best chance at success.
7 Steps To Avoid Disaster
- Understand the “why” first. Get a common ground with your CEO to understand how he or she will measure success. Unlike the corporate brand – you (or they) may want to be very careful about the following/follow strategy or the content of the blog. The tools that they will utilize and what and to whom you want to say it should be carefully thought through.
- Easy does it. Your CEO does not need to compete with other accounts for content velocity. It’s perfectly okay if the CEO tweets once per week to start. It's okay if they blog once a month. Or, if they're frisky - once per day. But, if possible, it's better to ease into it than bombard with content.
- Whatever you do – don’t ghost Tweet or Ghost blog. If they’re not prepared to compose their own Tweets and/or blog posts, then they shouldn’t be doing it. You need to set the expectation with the CEO that this is not something they should just “try out” and then delegate if they get tired of it. This is a marathon – not a sprint.
- Leverage it. Done well this will be an amazing new conduit for your organization and your content marketing efforts. Don’t let it stand in isolation. Integrate it into the other corporate social media channels. Bonus points for showing how far your extending the CEO’s content into the marketing message.
- Yes, they can work ahead of time. If they want to compose a few tweets or blog posts while they’re on that flight to London – that’s great. In fact, creating an editorial calendar and working together to make sure those tweets or blog posts are timed well is a great way to get ahead in case they get busy with that quarter-end sales scramble.
- But, don’t automate it. Even though there are lots of people automating Tweets – and most find that it’s perfectly acceptable for brands to automate some level of Tweeting – your CEO should not have Tweets emanating from Hootsuite, as she is speaking at the opening ceremony of the customer appreciation event.
- Listen & Measure It. Unless you have *that* kind of CEO (and you already know if you do), it’s almost a certainty that you’re going to need to devote some bandwidth to watching @Replies, blog comments or the blogosphere in general to monitor the reaction to the content. Make sure that there’s an effective listening process, a measurement methodology - and most importantly a way for the CEO to react to content that’s being generated from their tweets/blog posts.
That last one is important – because remember with this new blog or Twitter account, you’re now opening up a direct channel to the CEO. More than replies or comments, you’re likely to get pro-active requests through this channel than anything they’re used to (job requests, partnership requests, sales calls etc..). You need a policy and a method of reacting to both the good and the bad for these requests.
We all know that social media is changing the way we do business - and how it’s affecting our personal brand strategy. Just know that the C-Suite is likely to want to get in on these trends – and this is a good thing. We can be the kid who’s parents tell them they’re "digging" their favorite rock band (and thus ruining their music forever). Or, we can be the leader we want to be – helping our CEO and our company transform into new avenues of communication.
And, you? Has your CEO gotten onto the Social Media train yet?