Social Media for Executives – Dip a Toe In to learn and get used to it (the water is not as cold as you think!)

Based on what I have written below, it remains to be seen who will actually find and read this post—of course I will be sending the link directly to a lot of my “would be clients” via email.  So here goes….

I just LOVE this CEO Magazine article, July 2010 (by Karen Albritton, President, Capstrat)

Social Media: Where’s the C-Suit

Albritton speaks to the EXACT CONCERNS of most of my clients/prospective clients….right along side the “should I really pay someone to help me produce and maintain my online persona and social media” (albeit less the cost of hiring a receptionist or file clerk they will probably never  see or talk too– kidding, but kind of true). She (based on research via a couple of major business publications) states that most of the concerns about engaging in Social Media (and I am assuming for the good of a personal brand or the company brand or both) generally fall into one of three categories:

1. Productivity:   The C-suite sets the tone for productivity and social media is often seen as a time drain without much benefit. Some restrict access to common social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, in part due to concerns over potential distractions for employees. Executives are often tightly scheduled during the day with meetings and obligations. Finding time to engage online is a challenge.

2. Privacy: Many executives are inundated with information and requests. They have gatekeepers screen their email and phone calls to filter out unnecessary and unwanted contact. They deal with sensitive information and have to be mindful of what information they put out in the public. Social media is all about tearing down walls, putting yourself out there and engaging. This (partaking in new media) runs counter to traditional behavior for many corporate executives.

3. Profit: A recent survey of professionals conducted by Workplace Options showed that only 16% of workers felt social media helped them with their job. While many executives understand their company’s need to have a social media strategy, there’s still a fair amount of scepticism about the value that social media can provide.

My 48 year-old CFO sister falls right into all of the above–super successful, but won’t touch Twitter, Facebook or even Linked In (she thinks they are DUMB and “just a fad”).  Then there is me, I am older and I have built my business via social media over the least several years. Why? Well I am in PR/Marketing (my sis is in Insurance so that could be the difference right there!)–I saw the power of this new media a long time ago and I realized that I had to get in on the action or I’d be left behind and forced to play catchup.  So as I started to succeed with social/online media, I started to support my clients in doing the same.  Naturally some have tried and have gotten either fearful, impatient or both.  After all leaning something new takes trial and error – and a lot of execs (especially the ones that were successful pre-internet/social media) hate that! So not everyone needs my support or wants it, that’s fine, BUT…

Albritton goes on to say that she had recently attended a CEO forum in North Caroline just prior to writing her article, and one of the most profound things she heard that entire day was a comment made by Chuck Swoboda of Cree (regarding the adoption of sustainable products — but the same applies to ANY new technology right?). He said “I decided I couldn’t serve my clients or my business if I didn’t use the technology too.”

I agree– my opinion is at least “dip your toe in” to discover and learn.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain (as an executive in business). Here are the stats:

  • In the last 7 years, Internet usage has increased 70% PER YEAR.  Spending for digital advertising this year will be more than $25 billion and surpass print advertising spending (forever)…Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI these days.
  • Naked Pizza set a one-day sales record using social media: 68% of their sales came via twitter and 85% of their new customers
  • Dell has already made over $7 million in sales via Twitter thus far.
  • 37% of Generation Y heard about the Ford Fiesta via social media BEFORE its launch. 25% of Ford’s marketing budget is spent on digital/social media.
  • 71% of companies plan to increase investments in social media by an average of 40%
  • A recentAltimeter Group study found companies that widely engage in social media surpass their peers in both revenue and profit (and I know this can also pertain to the executives that run them).

Think of TV in the 1940′s, people jumped in and some with just a “toe in” first,  but they experienced it and got used to it and well, the rest is history.  Many did “dip a toe in” at the beginning  and either helped a company grow or their own personal brand to explode and in some cases BOTH HAPPENED.  Remember Uncle Milty? (I am dating myself – I was a 1960′s baby, but I remember him… talk about a personal brand in, then, the new media).

We support our executive clients in engaging in social media producing it for them to start ( just like how it used to be when you hired an agency or in-house person to design your company brochure or advertisement collateral).  Then, yes, as Personal Publicists, we support the placement/promotion and management of the executive media channels and content (not everyone is good at writing about themselves or writing in general and this a huge part of social media, next to video and audio messaging of course).

We keep our clients on track and in action so they learn not to be fearful (of the unknown?) and to embrace our new media to their own personal advantage and or the advantage of the company brand.  My team and I are NOT experts (who is?), and while most of our clients do engage on their own (as they should), they know that they can rely on us to support them, encourage them and even help them say the right thing at the right time and place. It’s easy, as with anything new, to just throw in the towel when you aren’t seeing results at the speed of light (the internet is new and fast, but it also does not give out miracle ROIs).

As any business or executive consultant (or any successful leader) says, “success is not singular” or “it takes a village” or…you know the drill, the same applies to social media.  And while Albritton provides tips on how to start and stay involved in social media, I still say that for many busy (Baby Boomer– “I already have a business model or process in place”) executives/professional all the TIPS can be overwhelming too! Yes you need to engage and participate (it is not called social media for nothing), but sometimes it makes sense to engage with another to help you be successful.  Social media participation is not a once in a while thing (and most C-suite execs on Linked In have oh, about 10 connections), once a month or even a once a week commitment.

If it’s not in your genetic makeup (like it is mine?) to want to jump in to the social media space, then ask someone to support you to engage and make it happen!  I don’t handle the up-keep of my own front and back (h0use) yard for the very same reason, but sometimes I jump in to clip the roses, plant a plant etc.

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2 thoughts on “Social Media for Executives – Dip a Toe In to learn and get used to it (the water is not as cold as you think!)

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