Businesses have long known they have to be on social media if they want to connect with current and potential customers. Many companies have a dedicated social media person or department, managing all the social content and customer service, yet only a fraction of those businesses have a visible CEO on those same platforms. One study revealed 61% of CEOs don’t have a social media presence at all, and of the ones that do, 70% of them can only be found on LinkedIn. When you consider this against the fact that 76% of executives believe it’s a good idea to be on social media, what’s the deal?
According to a study out of Australia, CEOs in the finance sector have been able to build better reputations for their firms through the use of social media. Not only this, but they’ve been able to find better talent, and increase sales.
If you’re a CEO, no matter how big or small your company, there’s plenty of reasons for you to be actively involved in social media, for your company and for yourself. Let’s take a closer look at how you should handle it, and what it could do for your company.
Making Time for Social Media
As a CEO, it’s no doubt you’re busy with all kinds of tasks. Even if you’ve got a decent-sized team of trustworthy people to delegate tasks to, there’s still a lot you’ve got on your plate. It’s tempting to hire someone to handle your personal social media too, since you’ve more than likely got someone handling the corporate persona. But there’s something to be said for doing it yourself – there’s that human element that only you can provide, because it’s your chance to let your personality shine.
Take a look at your current schedule. What could you do to make your day more efficient? Where can you delegate tasks to another coworker? We all only have 24 hours in a day, so before you add something else to your routine, you’ll have to make sure you’ve got room for it. You don’t need to have massive amounts of time every day to dedicate to social media; taking just 15 minutes of your time to take a look at what’s going on every day is enough, and is better than nothing at all.
Start small, but go outside of the LinkedIn bubble, especially if you’re a B2C CEO. Once you’ve built your profile and following on one network, you can decide how much time you have to dedicate to that platform, and whether or not you have the capacity to add another to your roster.
Where Should You Be?
The short answer is that what works for one CEO may or may not work for you. You obviously need to be where ever your customers are, or where your prospects are. If that means you’ve got to hop on Snapchat and ignore Twitter, then that’s what you should do. Since most people expect a business to be on Facebook, that’s a safe place to start.
When Should You Be There?
You should make it a point to be there every day you’re in the office, if not every day of the week. Social media doesn’t stop. In terms of customer service, users expect a response within an hour – even outside of normal business hours.
The exact time of day may or may not matter, depending on your industry. If you’re in the B2B sector, then clearly you want to catch people while they’re at work. If not, you should be working around your ideal customer’s schedule, making yourself available when they’re free after work. It’s a good idea to check in periodically throughout the day so you can talk to people regardless of time zone. And if you really want to connect, you can schedule an event, like a Facebook Live video or a Twitter chat, and invite your followers to attend.
To Automate or Not to Automate
Because time is so limited, it makes sense to automate your social media with tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Quuu, and IFTTT, right? These tools can be a lifesaver when they are used correctly. The key is to not go to 100% complete automation, as there are dangers to this approach. Social media is about that human connection – and if you’re using social media for the right reasons – to build connections with real people, you must present yourself as a real person. That means spending some time every day “live” on each network, actually interacting with people. Respond to comments and tweets. If you completely automate your social presence, people will eventually learn there’s not really a person there monitoring the account. If you use the set and forget approach, you’re also increasing the chance that things may not always go as attended. Plus, you miss the chance to capitalize on any breaking news or industry trends that may come along in real-time.
Find balance by taking time to schedule several updates for your social media platforms, making sure to adjust them for each platform. Don’t post the exact same update to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, for example.
Benefits of Social Media for CEOs
Connecting with Customers – Market Research
Airbnb is a highly successful company; as of 2016, it was worth $25 billion. At least part of this success can be attributed to social media. On Christmas Day 2016. CEO Brian Chesky turned to Twitter where he spent hours engaging in market research.
If @Airbnb could launch anything in 2017, what would it be?
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) December 26, 2016
Not long after, he got hundreds of ideas from his followers. While we can’t say they’re all Airbnb customers, of course, it’s a safe bet that many of them were. Suggestions included everything from including a feature to make it easy to tell whether or not the property has a private bathroom, to placing more emphasis on climate and “green” credentials, to working in the fight against systemic housing and lending discrimination, and more.
The idea was to use the feedback to drive their 2017 plans. What better way to know what direction to take your business in than to ask your customers directly? Plus, when people know they’re dealing with the CEO instead of the generic company account, they have confidence their suggestions will actually be taken to heart.
Building trust with your customers is important, and necessary for your business to be successful in the long run. But who else should you focus on building trust with? Your employees, of course! To do this effectively, you have to offer a real face to match your brand, and social media allows you to do this. You’re only one person and you can only attend so many face-to-face events. With social media, you can efficiently bring your human face to your brand at a larger scale – just like T-Mobile CEO John Legere has done. He’s active on Periscope, showing customers the employees at call centers and stores all over the country, but he’s also paying attention to what customers are saying.
Take for instance when a user shared their happiness about T-Mobile’s data plan, but expressed regret over being stuck with AT&Ts service, Legere took the time to say something. This move alone showed customers there was a real person running the company, and someone who had their interests in mind. Dozens of news outlets picked up the exchange to show just how progressive the company’s leadership is.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) November 27, 2013
Recruiting New Talent
When people need a new job, they often turn to social media to start their search. CEOs who understand the importance of talent as a competitive advantage, know that social can help them find it. When you attend networking events, or just meet people over the course of every day life, make it a point to connect with them on social media. You never know who you could end up connecting to and what kind of talent they could bring to your organization.
CEOs You Could Learn From
Despite the fact that many CEOs aren’t using social, there are still plenty who are that you can learn from. Social media automation tool Hootsuite has a great list of the Top 100 CEOs on Social Media, including:
- Richard Branson, Virgin Group
- Arianna Huffington, Thrive Global, former CEO of AOL Huffington Post Media Group
- Elon Musk, Tesla Motors
- Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square
- Paul Poleman, Unilever
You can click the link to get the full list, and take a look at their social profiles from there.
CEOs Must Adapt
Just like your company has to adapt to changing market conditions and consumer demand, you as a CEO must adapt to changing roles and expectations. Even though it may seem impossible to add another task to your daily to do list, investing the time and energy into building and maintaining an active social media presence can do a great deal for your company in the long run.
As a consumer, do you interact directly with company CEOs on social media? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments.