I feel your pain. Really, I do. Getting CEOs and senior managers on-board the social media train can be like trying to slam a revolving door: impossible.
The reality is that the majority of senior managers, particularly CEOs, are of an older demographic. Social media wasn’t even a blip on the horizon when they were rising through the ranks, climbing the corporate ladder. As professional marketers, I’m sure you’ve all had a conversation that ended with, ‘Social media didn’t exist back in my day. It’s unnecessary. We just don’t have the resources.’
According to a 2013 study (conducted by global PR firm Weber Shandwick), 76% of executives (including marketing professionals like you and I) believe it is a positive thing for CEOs to actively participate in social media. Unfortunately, only 32% of Fortune 500 CEOs have (a minimum of) one social network profile. That leaves a whopping 68% with no social media presence at all.
So, if you are tired of listening to the same old excuses (it’s only for young people, there’s no ROI, it’s too risky), perhaps it’s time to present a well-reasoned business case, proving the worth of social media once and for all. We all know that companies without a social media strategy won’t be around to tale the tale in the years to come.
Let’s take a look at some very real benefits of social media to get your business case off to a solid start.
CEOs are just like the rest of us. They need to network. Social media allows time-poor CEOs to network anywhere, anytime. They might be waiting in a transit lounge, on a long-haul flight or watching their son play cricket on a Saturday afternoon. Through the magic of social media, networking (and possibly their next big business venture) is right in the palm of their hand (or pocket, depending on where they carry their smartphone).
If done properly, social media can position a CEO as a thought leader, or an expert in their chosen field. A well-written blog (shared across any and all social media platforms) that disseminates useful, engaging and educational information can be the first step in positioning a CEO as an expert. And who wouldn’t want to do business with an expert?
CEOs (particularly old-school CEOs) might believe that their lofty position precludes them from the menial task of customer service. Not so. Think about it. If you lodged a complaint via Twitter (for instance), messaging the CEO of Telstra, how impressed would you be if the Telstra CEO not only responded, but arranged for the issue to be resolved? Would you not recount this tale of extraordinary service to anyone who would listen? Would you not re-tweet the response? Is not word-of-mouth the best possible marketing that any company could hope for? Case closed.
A human edge
A CEO with a social media presence gives their company a face, a human edge, a personality. New, potential and existing clients are able to connect with your company, and your brand, on a more personal level. It is much more difficult to change service providers if you have a personal attachment to your existing service provider.
Have you been having trouble engaging with your existing employees or recruiting new employees? It could be because your CEO is without an online presence. You may well scoff, but it’s true. 80% of people would rather work for a CEO with a Twitter account (than without). Employees want to work for a company that is transparent and innovative: social media ticks both boxes.
Social media enables CEOs to give clients a more in-depth insight to their brand, in a much more relaxed setting. Good news stories (like award wins, scholarship programs and innovative product developments) are often overlooking by mainstream media. It’s sad but true: warm and fluffy doesn’t sell newspapers. Social media provides an outlet for all those stories that would otherwise go untold, unnoticed, unpublicised. Often, it’s those warm and fluffy stories that secure new clients.
Additional media coverage
While we’re on the topic of media coverage, let’s not forget that social media itself can often generate news stories. Your CEO might be surprised to find that their Twitter or LikedIn updates are quoted in mainstream media. Or, their blog posts might be referred to as expert witness on the radio. Whatever the case may be, as the old saying goes, any PR is good PR.
Something more than benefits
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? A list of benefits simply isn’t going to cut the mustard with your CEO? Well then, let’s kick it up a gear.
As with any business case, it is important to allay the fears of your CEO. So, walk a day in their shoes. Think about what their biggest concern will be in regards to social media and have an answer ready for them. Think about how you will deal with complaints, with abusive posts, with confidential questions. Think about your strategy. How many status updates or posts will you have each week, each day, each hour? Will you stick to a schedule? Will that schedule include specific topics? What about a crisis communication plan?
Determine how you are going to resource a social media strategy. Will you need an additional resource? Will you restructure roles and responsibilities to integrate social media into an existing role? Will existing employees need further training?
Put together a detailed social media budget. It is often useful to demonstrate any cost savings and additional audience reach, when compared to more traditional communication methods. Make sure you include wages, training, any software programs (including monitoring tools) and the production of content such as videos and copywriting.
Measure and evaluate
Demonstrate to your CEO that you will measure and evaluate all social media activities. There are a whole range of apps available for this now (Google Analytics for one). Not only that, once the results are in, you will act upon these. You will build an even more effective campaign next time.
About Sally Wood
Sally is the Chief Wordsmith at Wordly: a full-service copywriting, public relations, communications and editing agency in Melbourne, Australia. Having worked in marketing, communications and public relations roles for over ten years, Sally is well-versed in just about every aspect of message delivery. Her professional experience includes: copywriting for web, social media and print publications; marketing and public relations campaigns that deliver growth and improve brand awareness; and internal stakeholder communication programs that improve employee engagement. Sally holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Postgraduate Bachelor of Letters (Journalism and Public Relations) and is currently undertaking a Masters of Communication. For more information about Wordly’s range of services, visit: www.wordly.com.au.
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