5 Things Executives Need to Know About Social Media
Social Media is something that’s on the radar of many corporate leaders. Whether your organization is just starting out or has been on the ranks of the Fortune 500 for years, there are a few key things every CEO should know about Social Media.
Here’s a simple 5-point checklist to be sure your company is on track with social media strategies – and make sure you won’t be burned.
- Stake out your territory. Look beyond the “Big Three” (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). Protect your brand by creating corporate profiles on a variety of social media sites, even if you don’t intend to use them right away. Creating a consistent social media presence is just as important as protecting your trademarks and other intellectual property.
Tools like knowem.com will search availability on over 500 sites and help you claim your company name in social media applications across the web. Start there, and be sure someone on your team is keeping up with your profile to update them when necessary.
- Put Your Ear to the Ground. Listen to what’s being said about your company and competitors. From basic Google Alerts on a company name to more sophisticated enterprise solutions, having a listening program in place is critical.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may want to assign the listening task to Customer Service or Marketing so team members can respond – in real time – to comments that appear online. Proactively addressing both positive and negative feedback will win you a loyal following.
- Find Your Corporate Voice. When employees are tweeting, blogging and sharing as representatives of your company, it’s important that they share your corporate voice. This does NOT mean they should work from a script or sound like a robot repeating the same information over and over.
Let employee personalities shine through while expressing core corporate values, brand personality and your philosophy for doing business.
Use cross-functional Social Media messaging workshops to bring employees together. Give them an opportunity to practice conveying your vision, mission and values through conversational tweets and posts, without sounding stiff or stilted.
- Add Value. Social media is about sharing, not selling. By consistently adding value for your followers, your company can create goodwill that will lead to future sales. Don’t worry about pushing product all the time. You will have plenty of time to reap the rewards of loyal customers down the line.
Use your equity in the social space to share information that customers need, even if it is not directly related to your product or service. Create community among your followers and encourage them to engage each other as well as your company. (If you’ve got that social listening program in place, you’ll be able to see what they are saying and add your thoughts when appropriate.)
And yes, it is OK to promote your company. Customers appreciate an occasional special offer, discount or “members only” insight. Just be sure selling is the seasoning on your social media buffet, and not the main dish.
- Create a Social Media Policy. Last on my list, but MOST IMPORTANT of all: If you have more than one employee, your company needs guidelines for social media use. Unlike a restrictive Internet Usage Policy that outlines everything employees can’t do, your social media policy should empower employees.
Address not only how they will engage from company accounts, but also how they talk about your business on their own. Certainly there will be things you need to prohibit, like foul language or disparaging remarks. Beyond that, think in terms of what you want employees to do. Give them space with reasonable boundaries, and employees can be a powerful force for building your brand online.
Here’s a Bonus Question:
Should CEOs be personally engaged in social media?
It depends. If you can truly be the voice of your company, go ahead. Share an occasional comment, announcement or point of interest. But keep in mind that what you say and how you say it will be watched carefully.
If you are not comfortable creating a consistent presence online, it’s better not to go there in the first place. Don’t delegate your personal account to an employee or agency. There is no way someone else can represent your unique view from the top.
Image by Svilen Milev.