I just finished reading an interesting post on Mashable, Should CEOs Be Fluent In Social Media? It is an interview with Forrester Research CEO George Colony by Mashable’s Barb Dybwad. There were some valid points made, such as not putting a CEO out in front when s/he has no social skills. I think those can be taught, but that’s another post for another day.
One of the arguments we have read time and time again is that the CEO has no time to engage in social media; that s/he is too busy running the company. I have some thoughts about that concern that I will share.
I’m not sure I am convinced a CEO has no time to send 5 or 6 Tweets a day. If s/he has someone who understands Social Media, and marketing and communications, close at all times, even for just a day, then this person could listen to the CEO, and point out “Now THAT was a perfect Tweet!”
I’m not suggesting this be done in front of other people during meetings, and your culture might call for another method, but my point is that the CEO would soon find it unbelievable that this would happen 100 times a day. It doesn’t have to be a novel, an epic statement or something that will send Wall Street or clients running to make some kind of change.
Developing relationships is what these tools are all about, so when a client or customer reads just about any friendly or informative statement from the CEO of a company they care about, they will be surprised (for now…not in a few years when it becomes the norm), and sometimes excited and impressed that s/he is actually listening to them, and/or using these media.
When you own or care about something, you have a responsibility to take care of it. Finding ways to talk to clients, and build social and emotional connections with them, are a few of these responsibilities. If you truly believe in it, then you will find time to quickly type out a few 100-character messages every now and then. Sit down at your laptop or pull out your phone right after you finish reading this, and see just how long it takes you to type 100 characters. No one said it had to be 140. That’s the limit, not the requirement. It might take about 20-30 seconds tops.
Yes, it takes time.
Yes, it takes some training.
Yes, it should involve strategy on the front end so that you know your goals, customers, messages, tone and much more.
No, Baby Boomers aren’t too old to get it.
We need to stop using these barriers and excuses, and embrace that which has been presented to us as an amazing set of tools that allow us to easily talk to our clients. Ask someone to train you…heavens, I, and five thousand others who do this for a living, will be happy to help, but just move past the fear of messing it up, or getting in trouble by doing it. You will find it becomes very easy after you’ve done it a few times.
You didn’t get to be the CEO of a major company, or a Partner in your firm, by constantly making stupid mistakes. Sure, you made mistakes along the way, but that made you better. You learned as your career unfolded. You were assertive. You learned how to intelligently talk to people. You became very good at the skills needed, and pretty soon you found yourself in a leadership position. Don’t choose to stop using those skills now that there’s something new to learn just because it’s easier to avoid.
Trust me. You’ll feel a lot better when you discover you can actually embrace and understand how to use the Social Web to your benefit, and that it’s not something that is a distraction, or that you thought you didn’t have time to learn.
What a feeling it will be when, suddenly, your clients are excited that you’re talking to them, and that you even answered something they said, or a suggestion they gave you, or made a change they talked about! Who doesn’t want to create that bond with those who trust them with their business? Aren’t loyalty, trust, business, repeat business and familiarity part of what it’s all about? Then let’s get started, okay!?
Thank you to Intersection Consulting for the Social Media graphic.