CEO sociability – finally gaining momentum

The social reputation of companies and CEOs is increasingly coming under the spotlight.
CEO sociability, in particular, is gaining momentum. But what does it mean to be a ‘social CEO’?

We live in the social age, and it is obvious that communication is becoming more complex.
If a CEO embraces social media, it will change the way they run an organisation.
Studies show that social media-savvy CEOs are better leaders*. Posting, leading, cultivating networks, participating on social media – all these activities play an important role in today’s CEO communications strategy. But CEO sociability does not only mean engaging effectively with social media, it also requires the ability to listen and empathise.

‘Successful leaders will no longer be measured just by stock price. Managing and communicating with shareholders, employees, government, community, customers will be table stakes in the future. They are talking about your business anyway. Why not be included in the conversation?” Peter Aceto CEO, ING DIRECT Canada, Forbes.com

The intrinsic value of CEO sociability should not be ignored. There are many benefits (as well as a few risks) of social media usage. Let’s start with the benefits:

CEO sociability helps
• build trust by demonstrating transparency. Trust in the social age is becoming increasingly important for companies (#fakenews)
• attract more talent, as people want to work for a company whose CEO is connected to the community
• support CEOs to engage directly with stakeholders as well as their employees. Employees favour CEO sociability
• give the company a personality or face
• achieve a competitive advantage
• strengthen the public perception of both CEOs and the company’s brand
• increase customer loyalty as a result of actively participating in a dialogue with the company’s stakeholders

Every CEO tweet, share, like or post potentially affects business. Many CEOs simply delegate social media activities, reasoning that this job falls within the remit of their PR team. First rule: don’t fake it – manage your social media yourself or don’t do it at all!

All CEOs who want to be successful on social media must identify with the content on the social media channels they choose to use. A social CEO’s activity is distinct from the communications posted by the company’s marketing or PR team. It is not the CEO’s job to share the content of the company’s current press release.

A social CEO is an executive and opinion leader. They truly focus on their audience and their communication is correspondingly authentic. This approach will pay dividends. By interacting with brand followers, the CEO is showing interest. Outlining their personal vision through thought leadership topics or engaging with the subjects of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and social themes, will help build a robust CEO brand as well as strengthen the corporate brand.

 

CEOs are the voice and face of the company. They are the most critical tool in building brand awareness and creating the trust placed in the company.

Many CEOs argue they don’t have enough time and they don’t know how to deal with social media communications. Agreed, for many CEOs, a lack of time is the major barrier to social media use. Not only that: dealing with new multimedia-based communication demands is not so easy for everyone.
The good news, however, is that CEOs can learn to deal with it and they will become savvier very quickly.

Good preparation is half the battle won, as becoming an active user of social media platforms can also involve some risks. CEOs have to be willing to become social! It’s all about good planning, research and effective implementation.

CEOs should not only comply with their companies’ social media policies and guidelines – it is imperative that they understand the pitfalls specific to their roles as the voice and face of the company. Some formal guidance about using social media before embracing online sociability is always good idea.

 

 

*Source: Weber Shandwick 2017

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