Get another notch on your belt. Why CEOs and business executives shouldn’t fear social media

Connect, tweet, click. Social media is fast, and if you are using a platform such as Twitter you are getting exposed to the whole world and people can reply back to you immediately.

There are no walls protecting you. It does take up some time, and you have to learn about online networking. Gosh, who have time for that? Isn’t this just another critical risk? Social media and online networking does take a bit of time every day. And of course if you share inappropriate things online there is a risk involved, as it would be with sending emails with sensitive content to everyone in your address-book.

Former Medtronic Inc. CEO Bill George, a management professor at Harvard Business School and avid tweeter says: “Most CEOs should accept that social media is part of their job description. People want CEOs who are real. They want to know what you think,” he says, adding: “Can you think of a more cost-effective way of getting to your customers and employees?”

At the moment very few CEOs and business executives are active in social networks. If you are a numbers person you will love this: there about 1 billion people on Facebook, over 500 million accounts on Twitter and the research shows that yet only 7.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs have bothered to jump on Facebook, and just 4% have opened Twitter accounts. It looks as there are a few more customers to gain for Facebook and Twitter.

I also know that many CEOs hardly have bothered to get a proper LinkedIn account. I once worked in a place where the CEO had a LinkedIn account with only three connections. It did send out a very anti-social message to all employees, who of course noticed this and made fun of him. As a leader today your online brand is very important, it says a lot about you, what you stand for and believe in.

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5 top tips for business executives how to boost your social media visibility

1. Get started. Social media will stay in our lives and it’s about networking and connecting online. You who wears a c-suite (CEO, CMO, CIO, CFO) should not be seen as one of these anti-innovation people, you know someone who’s refusing to stop using the typewriter when they should use the computer. Accept that the change is here to stay and start learning how to do it.

2. Check out who is active and influential on social media in your organisation. You can use Klout or Kred to see who is influential. Highly influential people in social media can be very helpful for your organisation. If your organisation is lacking influencers it’s time to encourage people to start using social media. Just to give you an indication: Barack Obama has Klout score 99 (100 is the highest). The British celebrity Stephen Fry has Klout score 89. My Klout score is 62. Everyone over 50 are seen as elite on Klout.

3. Be authentic. It’s much better to do most of the updates in your social networks yourself. Do fewer updates but let the message come from you. Other people might inspire you with ideas and that will help you to be better. If I read updates on a Twitter account I can say in less than 30 seconds if it’s the person behind the name of the account who’s written the updates or if it’s the PR department.

4. Make sure you track the feedback you get from your customers. If your company doesn’t have an online customer support who tracks what people say about you on Twitter etc. it might be a good idea to get one. This is just a new way to keep in touch with your customers.

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5. Allow people to try out new ways of communication online. Setting up too many rules will put people off and they might end up doing nothing instead. Get the legal team together with the social media experts in your organisation to write a social media policy. Things are moving swiftly in the social media world and the policy needs to be updated on a regular basis. Proper training in what you are allowed to do in social media networks is probably the best prescription to avoid future mistakes.

Everyone who’s posting online are publishers. In a minute you can make your voice heard and inform and inspire others.

You who have a leadership position in an organisation need to support innovation and creativity. You’ll be seen as an innovative leader if you are using social media to communicate with your stakeholders. What we see today in social media is just the beginning, there are much more to come around the corner.

Learn from the best, check out Richard Branson’s twitter account. He has over 2,5 million followers.
Read an article about how Richard Branson is using social media to connect with his customers.

Bio Sofie Sandell

With a background in sales and marketing and a master in business administration, Sofie has extensive and diverse business experience under her belt.

Fascinated by the web and how it connects with its visitors, Sofie has been working with the web for many years. As a pioneer in social media she early saw its potential and has a deep understanding of the subject. Sofie has gained a wealth of experience managing integrated digital marketing campaigns and e-commerce projects at a major publisher in London, she has worked as e-commerce manager for one for one of the biggest TV-channels in the UK and until recently Sofie was the website manager for Junior Chamber International UK and where she set up over 14 websites.

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Today Sofie works as a consultant and trainer helping organisations to get the most out of their digital marketing activities.