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There are many reasons companies, business leaders and CEOs themselves use for not being on LinkedIn or Twitter or any other social media platform for that matter.

The reasons range from not having enough time, unable to measure ROI, too much risk, they don’t care, social is a fad, they can’t write, they can’t tweet, they can’t use the technology, they’re introverts, they’re shy, they want to hide (hopefully not!) …… [put reason here].

In the early days of social media (circa 2010 ish) it made sense for CEOs to be cautious and prudent. We were all getting our “social legs” if you will and some of us had to tackle compliance and regulatory requirements… especially those who led public companies.

Fast forward to 2016 and this caution has been replaced with apathy among some CEOs who, with their teams, have their heads firmly planted in the sand waiting for the social media tide to dissipate. The reality is however, that many of their peers are now tweeting, blogging and putting themselves “out there”. For those CEOs with their heads in the sand “the times they are a-changin’”. Cue the music.

What is a “Social CEO?"

A social CEO is a leader that is visible, accessible and ideally engages with people using various relevant online channels, content and properties. S/he is social internally with employees and externally with customers, industry peers, business networks and communities.

A social CEO has a profile on the company website, could have a blog on the company intranet or corporate website, has an updated LinkedIn profile and might be sharing and interacting with people on Twitter. S/he might be expressing views on a variety of relevant topics in forums, on Twitter and is part of the company’s content development strategy, program and activities.

Should Your CEO be “Social”

Since 2010 Weber Shandwick has been publishing research, content and stats on the evolution of the Social CEO. I like the fact that they update their findings every two years and look forward to the next report when it comes out. I’ve hand picked an infographic, some  videos you can watch, created a chart and included a recent podcast to bring you up to speed. If you’re a CEO, or working with one, this can help you assess where you are now and potentially where you want to be. Here’s what Michael Dell said to me in 2011.

The Social CEO -- Executives Tell All (2013)

Social_CEO-Infographic (web)

Social Media Engagement with the C-Suite (2013)

Socializing Your CEO III: 5 Key Findings (2015)

The Evolution of the Social CEO

Chart_Social CEO

How to Be a Social CEO

Earlier this month Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist from Weber Shandwick was interviewed by Jorgen Sundberg on how to be a social CEO.

Time Markers (Note: if you want to fast forward use the > key on your computer keyboard and on your mobile just tab on the progress bar above)

03:30 Interview start

04:10 About Weber Shandwick Leslie’s role

05:20 Challenges CEOs face with social media and internal struggles going through their minds

07:18 A step by step approach to becoming a social CEO

12:40 The best social platforms CEOs can use internally & externally

16:12 Female vs male executives and their use of social media.

18:10 Mistakes CEOs can and have made on social media and things to avoid

22:55 What’s a good example of a “social CEO”

25:00 The next big thing for CEOs and social media

29:33 Learn more about Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross:  Corporate Bio | Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter

Conclusion and Guidance

The business case of being a social CEO is getting stronger. It’s ok to take your head out of the sand and establish your voice and engage with your employees, customers, prospects, peers and other key stakeholders. Put a plan together, with your team, and evolve into a social CEO over time and at a pace that makes sense… but start now by checking to see what your customers are doing. You might be surprised! 

Sources

Gaines-Ross, Leslie. “The Social Imperative for CEOs.” Newsroom. Weber Shandwick, 28 May 2013. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

Staff Editor. “80% of CEOs from the World’s Top Companies Take to Social Media.” Newsroom. Weber Shandwick, 18 May 2015. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

Sundberg, Jörgen. “How to Be a Social CEO, with Leslie Gaines-Ross of Weber Shandwick.” SoundCloud. Social Media Know-How, 2 Feb. 2016. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

Chris HerbertChris Herbert is the founder of Mi6. Mi6 is a B2B (Business to Business) marketing and business development agency dedicated to helping companies build their brands and develop commercial relationships. He is the founder of ProductCamp Toronto and the Hi-tech community Silicon Halton. He tweets under the handle @B2Bspecialist.