How to Get Your CEO Out of His Horse and Buggy

by David · 0 comments

Does Your CEO Commute in a Horse and Buggy?

Unless your CEO is a pseudo-Victorian eccentric, I would guess the answer is no. Much more likely, she or he arrives in a luxury motor car, or perhaps by bicycle or on the metro.

Yet when it comes to social media, most CEO’s act like Victorians. Only 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are on Twitter, and a mere 8% use Facebook.

As entrepreneur David K. Williams puts it:

“Any leader who isn’t engaged in social media today is like the leaders of 50 years ago who insisted on sending a telegram instead of dialing a phone.”

Avoiding social media is no longer merely burying your head in the sand. It involves backwards time travel too. It’s burying your head in the sand of your favorite childhood beach.

Why CEOs Can No Longer Ignore Social Media

Social media builds trust. That’s not an empty platitude. It’s a proven fact, backed up by data. If you’re on social media, people are more likely to trust you and, more importantly, buy your products.

The BRANDFog 2012 CEO survey found four in five (82%) of respondents were likely or much more likely to trust a company who’s top leadership engage honestly and openly on social media.

Three quarters (77%) said they were more willing or much more willing to buy from a company whose mission and values are defined through their top leadership using social media channels.

Research by Business Network International (BNI), found 75% of business owners have been “put off” a company because they used social media badly.

Social media is a place to learn from others. Williams calls it the “universal university”. He writes:

“We can teach and learn from one another. We can also improve from others, through comments, feedback and spirited dialogues, even in the situations where we may not agree.”

It’s also a place to meet new people and gain valuable contacts.

And it’s a way of sharing with your employees and customers quickly and simply.

Business intelligence company Domo recently, as an experiment, asked all its employees, at every level, to get active on social media. CEO Josh James said the impact on the business was “priceless”, as the experiment not only attracted media coverage, but brought employees closer together, and closer to customers.

Social Media Doesn’t Bite

Social media doesn’t bite, it doesn’t sting, and (unlike the horses mentioned in the title) it doesn’t poop either. It’s certified safe and clean.

So what are CEO’s scared of?

Transparency As Josh James puts it:

“I think there will be companies – such as those in the financial services industry – that will be fearful and resist the transparency and closeness to customers and employees that comes along with being a social organization.”

Yet in truth, transparency is good for your employees, your customers and your company. Transparency makes your company more collaborative and creative. For the Generation Y’s in your employment and on your client list, being on social media shows you get them and their way of communicating.

Blunders. Everyone says or does the wrong thing sometimes. And because on social media, you’ll be saying lots of things, you might think it increases your chances of a blunder. Truth is, your customers and employees respect your willingness to be vulnerable and open, and understand that you’ll sometimes make mistakes.

Creating a plan for the topics you’ll post about, together with your marketing manager, means you’ll feel more in control and comfortable, and reduces the risk that you’ll say something out of place.

Fads. Recent research by Harvard Business School found 14% of business leaders think social media is just a silly fad. Sure, Facebook and Twitter might no longer be here in 20 years time. But something else will be. And in all likelihood, unless you’ve embraced the social media revolution, you’ll be even further behind. Right now is the time to start keeping up.

Time Wasting. Business leaders also fear social media is a time drain.

Yet a report by McKinsey Global Institute]( found using social media could actually save time (and money) compared to more traditional communication methods, such as email. In total, employees could save 35% of the time they spend searching through emails for information.

No Excuses

You have no excuses! CEOs, it’s time to bust up your social media procrastination and start tweeting today.

David is Social Caffeine’s acting editor. He’s British, but we don’t hold that against him.

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