The top bods in any company all have one thing in common – they are extremely busy people. And while those responsible for managing social media platforms would love it if senior management could get more actively involved, it’s often far down their agenda.
As a business function, social media generally lands at the feet of the marketing or PR team. However, there is another way and a different approach that could transform the way you use social media, and importantly impact on the results it achieves for your business.
Getting social at the top
Even if a dedicated team looks after your company’s communication channels, they will still get their overall direction and objectives from the very top. In an ideal world this will involve sharing lots of positive news and having a charismatic CEO to promote as a spokesperson and industry expert. Then carefully handling any less positive news that crops up.
In the past it was far easier to contain anything negative, but nowadays everyone has a voice, and thanks to the internet they can make it heard across the globe. What top bosses need to remember is that they also have a voice and can use it to great effect to speak directly with the outside world via social media channels.
It’s never been easier to get dialogue going. And what’s more, as these conversations are open, anyone can listen in and help to spread the message even further. Social media is basically like a 24/7, 365 days a year press conference that has the potential to reach a global audience at any time.
So if a CEO or the senior team decided to step up and take a more active role on social media, who would actually be listening?
- · Existing and potential clients
- · Current and future employees
- · Investors
- · Suppliers
- · Partners
- · Media
- · Other thought leaders and influencers
- · The general public
For leaders using social media there is one key secret to success – being approachable. This means sharing a mixture of news about themselves or the company, commenting on other stories from the industry or in the news, and sharing their opinions and thoughts.
One of the most well-known and often quoted examples of a CEO using social media successfully is entrepreneur Richard Branson (@richardbranson) . He gives this insight into why he’s such a fan:
‘I try to answer a few questions every day from followers. People often wonder how I find time to tweet and update my blog so regularly. How do they not find the time, I wonder? Social media is such a terrific way to connect with our customers that I would never miss out.’
He’s a great role model and example of a CEO really going for it and getting the most out of social channels. But if you’re still not convinced, then here are the key reasons why senior teams should be getting active on social media:
It’s a valuable information source
Successful people are always looking for ways to learn, grow and improve. They will seek information, advice and ideas from other successful people and role models. They may also have mentors and coaches helping them along the way. Thanks to social media it is now possible to share and find this type of information from even more sources. Plus sites like Twitter have become a tool for breaking news and seeing instant reactions, which can be very valuable for businesses.
For the busy manager getting stuck in to social media there are methods and tools that can help make this process very quick and easy. For example, you can save searches and create ‘lists’ that will generate a valuable stream of exactly the information you want.
The best advice for anyone just starting out is simply to start listening to these streams and then over time start engaging proactively.
Build reputation through thought leadership
The thoughts and opinions of company bosses matter – that’s why they are where they are. From thoughts on a specific industry, to general business, politics or the economy, these thoughts should be shared. With social media the possibilities are now endless, from a simple personal blog, to articles on a company blog or a publisher profile on LinkedIn. It has never been easier to position yourself as an industry expert, and to take on a thought leadership role.
Never underestimate the importance of increasing your own profile. With social media this is fairly easily done. You can control your public image in ways that were never before possible. Journalists will also always prefer easily available management and look to various sources to find them, including social media.
Direct communication with the outside world
Social media allows you to interact directly with a range of audiences, including existing customers and new prospects. That is one of its greatest strengths. And every interaction is a potential opportunity.
Glowing reviews and comments shared about you or the company online can act as an incredibly powerful recommendation. But even negative comments can be turned into a positive if handled in the right way. For the company, this type of feedback may help highlight issues you’re not aware of, or that need more work. Then to the outside world, seeing how you deal with any problems raised will also send out a very powerful message. If you show you’re listening, fair and transparent, you have a chance to turn a disgruntled customer into a fan.
Time to get social
An important message to take away from all of this is that social media isn’t just something to be passed over to marketing and simply left to bubble away. You risk missing out on a huge opportunity by doing so. As a communications channel, social media is as powerful, if not more so, than most other forms of marketing collateral. But what it has to offer is completely unique.
There’s a reason some of the world’s more successful businesses and CEOs are committing substantial time to it. They do it because when leadership teams fully engage with social media and get more active, the whole company can reap the benefits. By raising the profile of senior team members on these channels you’re raising the profile of the organisation. And by giving them a voice, you’re opening up influential new channels with a wide range of different audiences.
It really is a form of communication that the more you put in to it, the more you will get back.
Getting started – a simply strategy
To help you take those first steps we’ve prepared a simple strategy for you to follow, which has been specially designed for managers working to a tight schedule. The strategy will guide you through from the initial prep and building a strong profile, to streamlining and sifting out the information you most want to see. From these solid foundations, there’ll soon be no stopping you.
You may also be interested in reading How to provide gold standard customer service on social media.