Why your CEO should start tweeting

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Few would argue that social media has changed the game. With nearly two billion users all over the world, social media has become a vital corporate tool for almost anything from market research and branding to sales and crisis management.

Why is it important for executives to be online?

In today’s fickle markets, having senior executives with a well-established and active social media profile can generate greater engagement for your company. People tend to trust people, and brands are too often seen as faceless.

Source: Weber Shandwick, The Social CEO
Source: Weber Shandwick, The Social CEO

Executives are uniquely placed not only to establish transparency with customers but also with investors. The study shows that investors feel more socially connected with a CEO who tweets, while executives can also use social media to influence investors’ opinions of them.

Executives are capable of inspiring the trust of both consumers and investors. Their participation online as a brand advocate can set an example for employees. It can also drive sales through social selling.

Around 65% of US employees say it’s important for CEOs to actively communicate about their companies online, particularly during times of crisis, the report found.

All of the above would suggest that CEOs and company executives must already be bearing the fruits of social media. However, a study shows that over half of Fortune 500 CEOs don’t have any social media presence.

61% of Fortune 500 Company CEOs don’t have an active social media presence.

Why do executives feel reluctant about social media?

Clearly, Tesla’s experience with Twitter last year is liable to make senior executives think the risks of social media are not worth the potential rewards. According to Eden Yin, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, senior executives might avoid social media for other reasons as well:

  • Inexperience or lack of expertise. Fear of social media or a lack of understanding of how to use social media can often hold back a leader from getting active online.
  • Time commitment. The amount of time it takes to build and maintain a social presence, especially when any delay in response can often be taken as a personal offence.
  • Lack of ideas. It is challenging to come up with new content ideas every day. Especially nowadays, when every social network requires its own unique style of content.
  • Old-school perspective. Naturally, tech magnates like Tom Cook or Bill Gates are tech-savvy, however many CEOs are less progressive and tend to believe they should focus on major priorities, and social media is not one of them.

The good news is that all of these obstacles can be overcome by providing an executive with proper training, content and infrastructure. To give business executives and/or owners even greater motivation, a proper metric should be set to define return on investment.

5 tips to get executives active on social media

Social Listening

Do proper research. Learn what people are saying about your company. Social listening can provide deeper consumer insights than ad-hoc market research. Take this opportunity to understand your audience – whether it’s consumers, employees or stakeholders – and engage them in conversation.

Platforms

The social media landscape is vast, and it’s not worth spreading efforts across all platforms. Instead, choose the ones that are most important. Keep in mind your communications objectives. For example, to inform shareholders of company news, short video stories would not the best format, however tweets could be highly effective.

Consistency

Understand your executives and focus on the two or three topics they find the most important and valuable. In our experience, executives tend to share posts about thought leadership, industry leadership, key company messages and customer success stories.

Infrastructure

Creating the right infrastructure is half the battle in the success of any corporate initiative. Make sure you choose a user-friendly and scalable solution. Take time to educate executives on how to use the tool in the most efficient way.

Patience

Don’t try to do everything at once. Setting Trump as a benchmark for newbies would be too much to ask. Build activity gradually and engage executives along the way. Once they feel comfortable with the first stage, move onto the next one. But remember, as ever, commitment is the key to building a successful presence online.

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