How to Empower Your Executives to Take Advantage of Social Media

Lauren Durfy

According to Inc. Magazine, “half of all CEOs tweet once a month or less, and those using the platform averaged one tweet every five days.” Compare this to social media superstars like T-Mobile’s John Legere who Tweet daily. Clearly, there’s a big gap between knowing the many benefits of social media and being motivated to cash in on them.

In the first part of this series, we looked at what distinguishes the best leaders on social media. We also looked at some of the most persuasive benefits for CEOs on social networks, both for their personal brand and organization.

In this post, we’ll tackle some of the most common sticking points keeping your CEO from getting down to business on social media. Plus, we’ll look at what top CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook and Sir Richard Branson do to get social media right.


What’s Stopping Leaders From Being on Social Media?

First, let’s get the objections out of the way. If you’re part of a marketing team trying to get your CEO to engage on social networks, you might hear some excuses, ahem concerns, like these… It’s going to be a big waste of time… I’m not comfortable doing that… Social media impressions don’t count, not like interactions in real life.

There are a lot of common reasons why CEOs fight against getting involved in social media, and most of them have been debunked. We do agree that social media can be a huge waste of time — when not done right. Often the objections around social media tend to center around an executive’s lack of comfort with social media. There are reasons to be concerned about whether the results can be measured or not, but not as many as you’d think.


Not Being Perfectly Measurable is Not an Excuse

While influence may be difficult to measure, it doesn’t mean that it’s non-existent. There are many channels (like television, radio, print) that are much harder to measure than online initiatives such as social media. The underlying reason many executives avoid being on social media may come down to their discomfort with digital marketing in general. The answer is to give your CEO guidelines and examples to follow.

As Bill Gates said about how he approaches social media, “I see what other people are doing, what they think is interesting, so I’m learning from other people.” So, let’s take a look at some examples.


CEOs Everybody Wants to Follow on Social Media

When top leaders are enthusiastically leading the charge, employees are more likely to participate and more benefits are likely to result from social media. The ways to use social media are endless, and there are a number of approaches. Let’s examine how a few well-known execs use social media to further their business goals.

International business rockstar Sir Richard Branson of Virgin has mastered his social media presence by connecting on multiple levels, both professionally and personally. Apple CEO Tim Cook is known for taking to Twitter to publicly show his appreciation for Apple employees and customers. “As a CEO, I highly recommend you do this,” says Cook. Elon Musk tweets company updates on social media. He also interacts directly with journalists, he’s been known to tweet press kits. He even conducts interviews on Twitter.


A Few More Ways to Inspire Your CEO

A recent feature in Inc. magazine covered strategic ways CEOs can take advantage of social media networking. Here are some of the best ways to inspire and educate your company’s chief executives:


Show Off Your CEO’s Personality

Connecting to a human being is much easier than a brand. Encourage your CEO to put a face to the organization by sharing glimpses of their life. Share career advice, tell personal stories of achieving success. Don’t only express thoughts about the company and the industry.


Get Your High-Level Execs to Become Thought Leaders

Just because you’re on social media, doesn’t mean things are going to be fluffy! Use social channels to enlighten and inform your audiences, the way you’d love to have an invigorating conversation in person. All it takes is keeping track of what your CEO is reading and following, then curating news and events that can be of value.


Spark Excitement and Build Brand Awareness

John Legere is a tireless cheerleader for T-Mobile. When something big happens, he’s one of the first to share the news. He also shares smaller stories about what’s going on with the company in a personal way that doesn’t feel like you’re being advertised to. A recent glimpse at Legere’s Twitter feed shows stories ranging from LGBT Pride to the world’s first burger-making robot. The key is he’s having a conversation, which just happens to discuss the company he runs from time to time.


Get Really, Really Accessible

Some CEOs are surprisingly accessible on their social media accounts. They’ll be happy to interact with customers, in fact, they consider it part of the job. Take, Lenovo’s CEO Yang Yuanqing. Yuanqing is a LinkedIn influencer who engages directly with his customers, so he can learn from them.


Getting Executives Comfortable on Social

Getting your CEO to be active on social media can be a challenge, but it’s important to showcase the potential business benefits as well as easy ways they can start to achieve these objectives. The key is to make CEOs feel comfortable with the idea of promoting themselves and the company on social by providing both guidelines and real-world examples for them to follow.


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