Time and tide wait for no man. And, when it comes to social media for the C-suite it’s now no different. Social media is maturing. Gone are the hype days when it was simply a case of not understanding but having to join in if you happened to be in marketing. Today it’s in a production phase and revolutionizing brands. It’s empowering people, including staff, to have a voice and communicate their message.

And, whether you like it or not, social media is rapidly evolving into an essential leadership tool. With an expectation for company leaders to embrace it, which is being silently communicated, the pressure is now on for the C-suite and ambitious executives to get involved and leverage off it. However, with so much at stake, the question that’s troubling everyone is…

…how to do it the right way!

And, it’s this lack of understanding that’s tending to make the C-suite sceptical and reluctant participants, unrealistically fearful of making mistakes and in an uncomfortable position of learning whilst leading.

This article has been written to help you, as a C-suite executive, or aspiring one, understand how you can build a powerful C-suite social media presence.

Now, let’s get started!

Setting the Scene

We live in a digital age. We’re inter-connected and socially connected. We search online for everything. And, we can find anything. We Google you, mine data on you and profile you. We share, friend, like, connect and link in. We leave digital footprints everywhere. We consume data at the rate of 10 hours per day. And, what’s more, we take all this for granted.

And, this is why the importance of social media on business has never been higher and why it’s dramatically escalated.

The world has moved through the hype phase when businesses felt compelled to join in because it was the latest trend. Now, as it matures, businesses have entered the productive phase where they’re starting to crack the code and turn it into a genuine business advantage. Social media channels have become an essential platform for brands to communicate their messages.

Social Media Penetration

Gone are the days when social media was used purely for marketing. Publicly traded companies are beginning to use it for business development, business communication, business continuity, crisis management, reputation management, customer service, human resources and innovation.

Social has transformed.

It’s morphed from social media to social business and as a consequence the entire way we do business is changing. However, some, particularly those who are having to secure brands i.e. Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) aren’t especially happy. And, the disruption (or more accurately headache) it’s creating is about to get worse.

Corporate silos are being broken down and new ways of connecting and sharing data are changing the way we work together. Collaborative relationships and innovation are flourishing. Companies are gaining better consumer insights and engaging with customers, while businesses are becoming more agile and transparent as a result. They’re moving away from seeking transactions and moving towards making a difference. In a connected world they’re becoming socially conscious and for the first time employees have empowerment and a voice that can be heard.

Social networks are therefore having a broad-based impact and what’s clear is that the tightly controlled corporate environments are falling apart. A balance of power is therefore shifting between brands and individuals. The explosion in connectivity and availability of information is enabling today’s consumers, employees, citizens and other individuals to take control – some argue a revolution is occurring.

Add to this the fact that in the next 6 years Millenials will account for 50% of the workforce, and this will rise to 75% in the next 11 years, for brands to maintain their market share (let alone get more) they have to move fast before they get left behind.

As Jack Welch said, “The rate of internal change must be greater than the rate of external change or the company will fall behind.”

The Social Media C-Suite Knowledge Gap

While many C-suites understand the importance that social media plays in business, most have not yet seen the need for their personal involvement let alone realized the changes it’s about to make to their role.

But this is short-sighted.

As social changes the way businesses work, it impacts the talents and skill-sets needed for the next generation of business leaders. Successful C-suites have to be equipped to be more social.

In 2013, Forbes ran a social media for C-suites story entitled ‘68% of CEOs have no social media presence whatsoever’ they quoted a report from CEO.com, which stated that:

  • 68% of CEOs have no social presence whatsoever and that a mere 32% have only one social network
  • 28% of the Fortune 500s are on Twitter; 38% are on Facebook, and 5% are on Google+
  • 140 of the Fortune 500s are on LinkedIn

Looking at some of those who are active, it’s clear that they’re winning in the game. Richard Branson (@RichardBranson) has nearly 4 million Twitter followers, which is more than most media brands. Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump) has more than 2.5 million, Marc Cuban (@mcuban) has just over 2 million and Tony Hsieh (@Zappos_Hsieh) has 2.8 million. But, it’s Bill Gates (@BillGates) who controls the leader board at just over 15.2 million.

Without a doubt, when C-suites and aspiring C-suites have the opportunity to use social media platforms to amplify their company message and take responsibility for their own brand, they can achieve more influence than most media outlets.

Now I want to hear from you…

Tell me in the comments below or in a private email:

  • How are you dealing with social media for business?
  • What aspect of it do you find the most challenging in today’s digitally driven world?

Thanks for being a sport and participating!

PS. If you know someone who’d love the insight from this post, please send them a link.