There is no question that social media has changed the way we communicate with one another. On one end of the spectrum, it can be seen as a platform for spreading hate and “fake news” leading us to be more divided as a nation than ever before. On the other end, it is a platform that has connected us, giving a voice to the powerless and an opportunity to share stories to start conversations that turn into societal change that spreads around the world.
CEOs in the business world are also using the power of social media to change the landscape of their companies as a means to connect with employees, customers, and stakeholders. Hayes Drumwright, CEO of Trace3, an information technology company based in Irvine, California, is convinced that “everyone in society, just as everyone on a team, really does matter equally. All people have their own strengths and weaknesses, and each person contributes to the group in their own unique ways.” This insight inspired him to become a Social CEO.
Drumwright explains in a Forbes column that “a Social CEO is a leader who adopts social media tools to better understand what motivates the entire team, and then digs in to help them solve real-world challenges, and who adroitly uses social media to check the pulse of the organization and channel the energy of the staff.”
Being a Social CEO means going beyond the occasional Tweet. To be an effective storyteller, you need to strategically select all the digital tools that will advance your business — ranging from your company’s intranet and website, to social channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Instagram, depending on what channels are most appropriate. Writing a blog on the company website is much more time-intensive than 140 characters or less, but it is the right communications channel for the CEO who sees the value in sharing his or her own perspective with original content in a deeper and more meaningful way.
Developing blog content also enables you to manage the message and the distribution through all social media channels, all while keeping the site’s content fresh and a reason for your customers to keep coming back. Social CEOs leverage the company’s website because it is the first place people go to learn about a company, its service offerings, and its leadership. It also offers a platform to share written thoughts, photos, videos, and more, all in one place.
Writing your own posts is critical in communicating in an authentic voice, but your words and perspectives must align with core company values in order to stay true to the brand. Frequent posters find it is more efficient to do it themselves rather than having a ghostwriter, but it all comes down to what you are most comfortable doing.
Drumwright personally identified multiple benefits of being a Social CEO including better communications, an improved brand image, increased transparency, and greater employee morale, all of which help him to increase leadership effectiveness.
Weber Shandwick surveyed 630 professionals — managers to C-level, excluding CEOs — about the social participation of their own CEOs. Executives with highly Social CEOs described them as being forward-looking, effective, good communicators and good listeners, competitive, open and accessible, in touch, inspiring, and technologically savvy. Since engaging employees is critical to aligning day-to-day decision-making with company strategy, Social CEOs may be doing double duty by arming employees with news they can use to help spread positive word of mouth, defend the company if it is at risk, and strengthen talent recruitment and retention.
Social media is a good way for a CEO to share news and information about the company, and it can have a positive impact on a company’s reputation. It shows innovation while humanizing the company, enhancing credibility in the market, and attracting new employees. Social media gives employees the chance to communicate directly with the CEO, in turn helping the CEO understand and stay in touch with what is happening inside the company.
Andrea Wiley is director of account management at DCA Creative Communications Consulting and is an adjunct professor teaching advertising at the University of Memphis. She was the 2015-2016 president of the American Advertising Federation, Memphis Chapter, and can be reached at [email protected]