The Social CEO: Why your leaders should be using social media
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Raise your hand if you’re a social media manager who has had this happen to you: You notice a trend emerging via consumers reactions to something on your social media channels. You perform analysis and immediately report your findings to your boss. Your boss dismisses the feedback as ‘miscellaneous twitter whiners’, only to find out your warnings were reflected in the following month’s sales report?
In our discussions with front-line social managers for major companies, this is a major gripe. Few companies are taking advantage of the instant feedback available through social media. As a CEO, being a part of that conversation will help you understand which feedback should be written off as a trolling and which should be considered a canary in the mine. This understanding will give you an advantage – you’ll be first and fast to respond to consumer demands.
The value of effective social media management during a crisis situation cannot be underrated. No more drafting press releases which can be missed, ignored, or twisted – and never instantly shared. Your social channels are verifiably YOU or YOUR BRAND, and will be the top source for updates and announcements in the event of a crisis. If he/she is represented on social media, your CEO will be hit with questions and comments, but by demonstrating that he/she is devoted to resolving the issue as it occurs, they will be demonstrating authenticity and accountability. Example: Kitchen-aid Twitter crisis during Obama’s presidential run.
Make no mistake, being available on social media during a crisis means you will be opening the flood gates to questions, comments, attacks, complaints – you name it. Keep this in mind: during a crisis, providing no information often results in a vacuum, which crazy internet people will fill and the media could run with. Communicate what you know in a clear, compassionate, confident way, and resist the urge to ‘feed the trolls‘. Set the tone. Set your boundaries. Link to a central source for official information. All of this should be pre-planned in a crisis communications plan.
For any business, there will be times when you’d like to reach out to the media for support (releasing a new product, correcting a misperception, sharing an accolade or innovation, etc.). That ask is a lot easier if they know who you are, and if you’ve provided transparency or value in the past. CEO’s can use social media for media relations in the following ways (and more)…
- Follow local and industry media – learn what is important to them, what readers engage with, and what topics are emerging
- Engage with media stakeholders – answer questions, comment on stories, offer insight.
- Be available – Tweeting regularly from an account that’s honest, relevant, and valuable will alert media that you’re there and keep you top of mind. They may call on you via DM or publicly to contribute to a story. (Pro Tip: Have a process built in for directing any/all on-the-record requests to your PR representative for review. Nothing wrong with saying “Thanks for asking. Let me get some more info and get back to you this morning,” before you say something you can’t take back.)
- Show leadership during a crisis situation by being available and valuable to media during ongoing stories.
Ask anyone what they love about the companies they are committed to, and more often than not, they’ll list ‘the people’ as a major reason. Brand personality is vital for building awareness (what makes you different, what makes you memorable?) and growing consumer loyalty. Social media is loose and personal, and a great place to show off that your brand personality isn’t just fluff, it’s put into practice by real people who believe in it. SOLD.
Ultimately, the company that wins consumer trust wins the game. Every purchase is an emotional decision. A record of consumer trust is required to capture a new customer, and to keep them, because one of keys to repeat purchases is to build a brand that locks in as trusty-worthy without the emotional double-take before each and every purchase. For example: IKEA, Apple, Starbucks, Canadian Tire – you understand their brand personality and consisted customer experience, and rarely have to think twice before making that purchase. It’s estimated that each consumer only ever purchases about 150 brands – from tomato sauce to deodorant, we’re creatures of habit.
Engaging with consumers via social media allows you a daily opportunity to show that you are who you say you are, and stay top of mind (or at least, top of the newsfeed). The keys to building consumer trust are:
- Be transparent & sincere
- Be consistent & follow through on your promises
- Be available (listening, ready to provide value) and engaging (authentically live your brand personality).