Starting out as a social CEO
Recently we conducted a survey that confirmed what we already suspected to be true, Nigerian bank CEOs – like many other CEOs, are social media shy. Although many of them will claim is for good reason, but others like Herbert Wigwe of Access Bank, Kenndy Uzoka of UBA will agree that there may not be one “good reason” left which trumps the benefits of being a social CEO.
A social CEO refers to an executive who participates actively on social media by leveraging platforms to engage his immediate community and thereby enhancing brand visibility. Social media participation here refers to posting messages, pictures, etc on a social media site. The unsocial CEO is one that does not get involve at all.
To be fair, it is not that unsocial CEOs have no desire to socialize with their community. In a report released in 2012, global public relations firm, Weber Shandwick noted that CEOs were finding ways to be social without being active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. That was years after Facebook announced it inching towards 2 billion active users.
Today’s CEO, according to MDG Advertising, will be making a “huge mistake” being completely unsocial. In a survey of senior managers the advertising firm conducted, 76% believed it is a good idea for their CEO to be on social media. 75% out of the 76% said it gives the company a human face, 78% said it has a positive impact on the company’s reputation, 80% said it is a good way of sharing news and 70%said it has a positive impact on business results.
The report went on to outline three steps CEOs can take when starting out on the journey to becoming a social CEO.
The first step is to create an account on LinkedIn. The social media platform which is a hub for co-workers, press, peers, customers, and future employers is arguably the most popular among professionals and business executives. 32% of Fortune 500 CEOs have active LinkedIn accounts. Also 70% of CEOs who are active on just one social network are on LinkedIn.
While on LinkedIn, it is important that the newbie social CEO optimize their accounts. This includes putting all your work history. Also important is publish as regularly as possible. There is nothing to be ashamed off if you need to solicit for endorsements; include press mentions and add skills. Finally engage regularly with the community by liking as often as possible, make comments and reshare other people’s post if you like and especially if they align with your company’s set objectives.
Second step is to pick a few other social media platforms. It is not compulsory that the social CEO must be on every platform. A benefit of being on more than one platform, MDG report noted, is that other platforms offer access to vastly different audiences, as well as other methods of communicating.
To pick other social media network carefully consider your comfort level. First think about the demographics, there are wide differences in age, gender, and geo breakdowns. Second, do not neglect their behaviours. Many people go on social media for different reasons. Third decide on the type of visual you are going to use. For instance, if you decide to go on Instagram, you will have to do more of pictures, GIFs and videos. If it is Twitter or Facebook you want then posts, pictures, live videos and GIFs are the tools you need. Fourth, your ability to respond as quickly as possible is very important. It be sure, it is not always the same for every platform. You may need to respond to a network like Twitter quicker than the rest.
While you are on the platforms you can experiment in order to find the right frequency and content. It is recommended to post more than less if you want to keep the audience very engaged. It is also okay to reuse content across different networks and repost pieces. You can also repost other people’s content; it goes a long way.
Finally, make your content fun. According to MDG Advertising’s report many CEOs come across as unengaging on social media, despite being warm and dynamic in person. Your posts on social media should be relatable. You do not have to be controversial but you can share bold ideas.
“Social networks give CEOs the chance to put forth ideas, understand issues, and connect with people deeply. That is an incredible opportunity that, if tackled well, can benefit both the business and the individual immensely,” MDG stated.
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