Is your leadership team being social enough? (part 2)

socialmediaLeadershipWhilst senior management support is clearly vital for any new social media initiative to succeed, just how much do executives and leaders need to participate personally?

In part one of this two-part post we looked at a comprehensive approach to engaging in social media. Now, we consider an alternative approach, for those less comfortable with the social media jungle.

We all know that a credible online presence requires both an authentic voice and a long-term commitment to being there. So what happens if your senior managers simply don’t have the time to contribute regularly or they happen to be part of that, not insignificant, section of the population who choose not to participate fully online.

Weber Shandwick’s recent research, The Social CEO: Executives Tell All, explores how CEOs go about sharing their company stories and engaging with their audiences through various mediums, including social media.

Social is not the only solution

Significantly, one of the reports earliest insights highlights the fact that CEOs can use a variety of communication vehicles to get their message across without having to be pressured into becoming social media pied-pipers.

“CEOs are finding ways to be social without being active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. They understand they must be a leading voice for those who follow their company pages, without necessarily amassing and engaging a network of followers on personal social pages. CEOs who don’t participate in social media are communicating with employees through company intranets and engaging with external audiences through company websites.”

The report suggests a number of potential reasons as to why CEOs may choose not participate in social media. (Interestingly, the idea that a CEO may just not think it right for them personally doesn’t make the list, perhaps because the idea of personal fit or preference is not being given enough weight?).

Top 5 reasons CEOs don’t participate in social media

  1. It’s not typical for the region or industry
  2. CEO sees no measurable return on investment
  3. No demand for CEO to do so
  4. It’s too risky
  5. CEO doesn’t have the time

Unfortunately for those reluctant leaders, there is a growing expectation amongst their employees that they should be participating – 76% of global executives believe it is a good idea for CEOs to be using social media regularly.

Why it’s good to be social

The good news is that participation brings a variety of benefits; social CEOs are seen as good communicators, inspiring, open and accessible, forward-looking and technologically savvy.

Those CEOs that regularly maintain a personal blog are seen to be building better relationships with the media, giving their company a more human face, enhancing credibility in the marketplace, making the organisation a more attractive place to work and having a positive impact on business results.

Many of these benefits seem to be as much about the messages and the engagement as the medium being used, so those leaders who are able to make the same connections using more traditional methods, (meetings, conferences, events etc), are likely to enjoy many of the same returns.

Fit the medium to the messenger

Clearly getting senior managers engaged and participating in social media can bring a range of benefits, both internal and external. But social media is not for everyone, some CEOs included.

Rather than just insisting or expecting leaders to ‘get it’ and dive-in, organisations need to develop more flexible strategies. Make the most of your social media enthusiasts but make sure you’re still creating alternative opportunities for those who may prefer other channels. All your leaders have great stories to tell and can all make a real impact when given the chance to be heard.



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