There’s no doubt social media is a worldwide phenomenon with millions of people taking part every second of every day. But as a CEO, is there a place for you to use it to make a positive, and lasting, difference to your business?
Yes there is. In recent times there has been a shift to a digital world, CEOs need to realise social media is here to stay. It is not a fad, or just for the “young ones” but rather a legitimate marketing and customer engagement tool.
Social media should be seen as an opportunity, not a risk, and can be used to boost both the profile of the company and an individual. It is another opportunity to connect with your audience and grow your insight into who they are and what they are looking for in terms of products and services.
When choosing to start into the online world there are a few steps to be considered.
Start with a strategy
The first question you need to ask yourself is why are you creating a social media presence? Is it to increase the awareness of your brand, for customer service, real-time crisis management or as a marketing channel? In order to reach your goal, you first need to have one.
Once you have thought this through and decided to start using social media, find out who your audience is and where they choose to visit online. There’s no point in starting a Facebook page if your target audience prefers LinkedIn.
Once you’re connected, how do you let customers or clients know? You need to have systems in place to be able to drive people to add you on Twitter or Like you on Facebook. There are a number of different and simple ways to do this such as adding links to your email signature, links on your website or advertising it through a company newsletter.
Once this is established you need to figure out what you are going to say. You can share insights into your business, distribute knowledge and ideas and use it, sparingly, to promote services, products, marketing messages and competitions.
But having an online presence isn’t enough. It needs to look good. In much the same way you spend time, effort and money on making things like a bricks and mortar store look presentable, or branding business cards, this same level of effort needs to put behind your online marketing.
Social media will take time and money. But if you choose to utilise its advantages you need to set aside time to keep it up to date. Having an out of date Facebook page or Twitter feed can be as bad as having no presence at all.
Keep the look and feel in line with how your company likes to present itself, whether this is purely professional, a little quirky or outright funky. As CEO you are the face of your company and should present yourself in much the same manner.
Where to begin
A great place for CEOs to start is with blogging. As a CEO you have a wealth of information about your industry and business which you can share.
Your content should engage and/or inform readers and make them want to come back for more.
It should also be regular, just like sales meetings and budget briefs. Making the time to write a blog should be seen as at least a once weekly task. Put it in your diary as an appointment if you have to and block out the time needed to write.
Once you have written and posted it, make sure to promote it. Send it out through your other social media channels, whether that is Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, to let people know it is there.
Whichever social media path you choose to go down, make sure to figure out how you are going to measure the ROI.
Remember this doesn’t have to be hard and fast bottom line numbers. It can be the sentiment behind mentions of you, or your brand, or the number of brand advocates you have and how effective they are in spreading the message about your business.
Set yourself goals to reach, but make them achievable and realistic. It can take a while, sometimes up to a few months, to engage and build a community.
Don’t become disheartened if you don’t have as many followers as Kevin Rudd within the first week, keep at it, be honest and soon you will reach your social media goals.