16 August 2017 / reputation management / digital media /

5 reasons your leaders won’t do social media (and how to change their mind)

When you work in communications or public affairs, you may be familiar with a certain fear, skepticism or sheer ignorance of senior management when it comes to social media. Here are a few objections we often hear, and some free advice on how to counter them!

1. “I don’t have time”

The good news is: on social media, you can have big impact with relatively little time spent. Advise the CEO to leave the ‘Tweet as you go’ type of social media to the pro’s, and make sure he/she has a clear view of the monthly or quarterly plan in terms of content & posting. Emphasize this is obviously focused around the key strategic priorities the company wants to be known for, and you’ve got yourself a deal.

2. “It’s not about me, it’s about the company”

True. And not true. It is not a surprise that a company, today more than ever, needs a face. And preferably a human one! “Leadership” is one of the dimensions weighing heavily on a company’s overall reputation. A social CEO is one way of putting that face out there. Use the CEO resource wisely though, not just for anything. Have a look at how some CEOs here in Belgium go about it, at Brussels Airport and Tiense Suiker. The accounts provide an instant human touch to large corporations. Elsewhere leaders found their way to social media too, for instance Meg Whitman (Hewlett Packard enterprises) on Facebook and Melinda Gates on Instagram. Melinda posted she is happy she can now tag her husband, the famous Bill Gates who decided to join Instagram only last week on Friday the 11th of August. (#Funfact: By Sunday his account was followed by 158.000 people.)

3. “I don’t have anything interesting to say”

CEOs: just make sure you surround yourself with a team of top communication professionals and you’ll be fine! Seriously though, inspirational leadership comes with vision and clear ideas on where the sector and the organisation is going. As the top woman/man in the firm, there must be a field of expertise worth sharing insights on. It helps to go back to what drove the CEO towards this sector, company or product. That’s often where the motivations and stories lie. Also, do mention the power of social media when it comes to employer branding. This type of communication will give potential recruits a glance of what’s going on inside a company. Use it as a tool to create connections internally too, or a sense of urgency on certain key topics among employees because: if the leader cares about it, I guess it’s important!

4. “That’s what our comms department is for”

Sure, in today’s ‘Trump era’ we would certainly not recommend any CEO to just take the lead and post his or her own tweets or Facebook live video’s. Social media are communication channels that can be used very strategically and, there’s an art to it. However, with the right dose of charisma and thought leadership, and guidance from the communication experts, there is a sweet spot for CEOs to be active in personal capacity. Be strategic, agree upfront on themes or areas of the business the CEO should cover on social media (people, sustainability, or future investments for instance). Once you have established clarity on that, your CEO will not (or at least, less) be bothered by potential product or service complaints, for which you probably have other channels in place. Be clear about what visitors can expect on which channels.

5. “What if I get negative reactions?"

In for a penny, in for a pound! You use digital channels in your company’s wider communication strategy with a view to positioning your company and its people. Yes, you will be exposed and therefore yes, anyone can comment, like, dislike, react, or share - the internet is a free world. We hear this concern very often and unfortunately it leads to many “no can do’s” at senior level. This is particularly the case for heavily regulated industries. So, it is crucial to take away initial concerns by doing all the internal homework before your CEO pitch, including weighing various legal and compliance considerations. Have response scenarios in place, and the right people with the right skills and sense of judgement (!), either in-house or a phone call away in a communications agency. This way, the CEO won’t have to worry the world will end with one Tweet.

Right. No more excuses. Good luck and have fun! 


Femke Beumer
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