CEO's bring two basic approaches to social media: They embrace it or they refuse to learn how to do email. Let's just assume that the CEO's who refuse to learn how to do email, or insist that their secretary's print out their emails, are about to leave the workplace.
To thrive in social media and use it as a flowing tool to build business, CEO's should use social media like a rock star or movie star.
1. Constantly. Just hit refresh. CEO's are often burdened with 1970's style corporate communications departments and lawyers obsessed with the nonsense of Sarbanes Oxley. Social media is a conversation with your customers and your employees. It is casual, fun and should answer top of mind questions your customers present.
You're as current as your last Tweet.
2. Skype. The first CEO who is available to ANYONE by Skype twice a week will become a rock star and, more importantly to her, indispensable. There is general terror when an employee goes to see the CEO in their office. Seeing the CEO on their laptop breaks down barriers and starts the flow of honest ideas and reactions. Believe me, now your staff comes to your office and says and does whatever they have to to get out alive.
Today, when customers want to reach a CEO they enter an elaborate maze. Let's go through this scenario: You want to personally reach the CEO of Verizon. For decades, Verizon operator and corporate offices were black boxes---no signage and they were unlisted. Let's think about that; the phone company was unlisted.
You can pound on the CEO's door at Verizon forever and you won't reach him. Verizon is a public company, a federally regulated utility, their CEO should be on the front line of visibility and transparency. If he became the first phone company CEO to be accessible through social media, their consumer relations scores would soar.
The first CEO who Skype's several times a week and answers questions without censorship will be the FIRST to actually embrace, engage and get cash from Jack Myers' Internet Pioneers. (See Jack's book HOOKED UP available now from the right panel of this blog.)
The temptation by the Corp Com guys and the lawyers will be to censor the calls. If you feel they must be censored, don't do it. Remember there is already a level of screening by the fact that a person must own a computer and know how to Skype! Internet communications is all about authenticity, credibility and dependability.
3. Tweet. Based on the Twitter messages we've seen, you can post most anything. The key is to Tweet. Big shots do it. Rupert Murdoch does it obsessively. He runs a public company, he is under constant scrutiny. The reason it is essential to Tweet constantly about your daily activities is that it makes your approachable for new ideas. When customers and employees see what you are doing all day it makes it easy to present valuable, essential new ideas to you. Only you can judge if those ideas are right for your business, but now you have a direct line for new ideas. Without them, you're dead.
By sharing your day to day activities, extraordinary events become manageable. There becomes a context to the events at the company. If a customer has a terrible experience, say the flight attendant goes crazy, your customers already have a rapport with the CEO. The CEO can then credibly explain why the flight attendant went nuts and offer everyone free peanuts.
Complaints will diminish. As the customer base realizes that the CEO DOES HEAR THEM, complaints will diminish. Part of the reason many corporate bureaucracies suffer when they interact with the public is that it is so rare. The rage is unleashed...whoops back to the Country Club.
4. Millions of companies ask customers to LIKE them on FACEBOOK. The benefits of LIKING them are vague at best. It's like begging for fan mail, tacky. One food truck in Manhattan wisely promisesthat if you LIKE them on FACEBOOK, you will receive a free meal. How does that work? Instantly. The CEO of the food truck hands you his laptop, you go to his page on your account, LIKE the truck and get free food instantly.
As the CEO consider the FACEBOOK offer carefully. Why should a person LIKE your company? A key benefit would be direct contact with you.
5. No plans please. When most CEO's consider their options regarding "engagement with social media" they take their time, have plans written out, bringing in the dressed in black digital team and engage a digital agency and PR Firm. Save the money. Just start the conversation. You're good at that, that's how you got the job. Keep it by Tweeting right now about this article.
Walter Sabo is the Chairman of Sabo Media, a company that offers executive-on-demand services. He has worked on-site to build out new digital content platforms such as Sirius/XM. His team was the first to discover the marketing clout of web stars, Internet organic video producers. They founded OMMA award winning HITVIEWS. The company placed brands such as CBS, TiVo and Mountain Dew inside UGC. In FM broadcasting he is a leader in the profitable sector of FM Talk and held executive positions at NBC and ABC Radio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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