Best Practices for The Social CEO, Part I: Be yourself

Social media is a one-on-one conversation at scale. Your industry, clients and employees are participating. Join them.

Social media is a one-on-one conversation at scale. Your industry, clients and employees are participating. Join them.

Nearly every business is leveraging social media, yet only 38 percent of CEOs have a presence on social networks.* The CEO often is the face and the voice of a business, so why are that face and that voice silent across social networks?

Social media is a marketing function.
Social media is a time-suck. I don’t have time for it.
Not sure how to go about it. What would I say?


All are legitimate concerns — and all can be explained away in one sentence:

Social media is a one-on-one conversation at scale.

Silos are out; social is in.
It’s a wise use of precious resources (time and money).
It’s not just about you.

There’s a conversation happening right now about your industry, your company and your products (and those of your competitive set). Shouldn’t your voice be heard? Wouldn’t you like to listen?

Social media is just like a cocktail party.

Great guests -- those who inform, entertain and inspire, and connect others -- get invited back.

Great guests — those who inform, entertain and inspire, and connect others — get invited back.

People want to connect with people. They want to listen and to share. It’s delightful (and memorable) when a guest discovers another who offers something of value that informs, entertains, inspires them or introduces them to someone else. It’s the start of a relationship. Good guests get invited back.

When was the last time you went to a cocktail party and held a conversation with a company or a product or a brand? Never.

Conversations are held among people. While it’s essential for a company or a product or a brand to have official presences on social media networks, there’s a very different and special opportunity for the person leading that business.

For today’s CEO, social media presents an invitation to the party. The other guests you’ll find there are the media covering your industry, your clients, your partners, your shareholders, and your employees. The conversation they’re having surrounds news, trends, issues, and opportunities that concern the present and future of your company, products, process, and people.

The first step, like prepping for a party, is figuring out how to present yourself. Just as your outfit, accessories, grooming and behavior (shy, outgoing, voice volume and timbre, handshake strength, etc.) provide cues to who you are and what you represent, so does your profile page on each network. Your name, bio, photo, friends, and content on social nets do the same, even while you’re sleeping.

As a CEO, social media gives you the opportunity to express your own brand — personally and professionally.

Defining your brand is the essential first step to craft a social media strategy that wins you opportunities. This is about achieving your personal and professional goals. Be yourself.

The prep you take before claiming your place on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., is essential to craft a social media strategy that wins you opportunities both personally and professionally.

Thoughtfully write your answers. Together they represent your personal brand and will guide your social media strategy.

Thoughtfully write your answers. Together they represent your personal brand and will guide your social media strategy.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to develop your strategy.

Grab a pen and paper. Take your time.

1. What are your personal values?
Make a list of qualitative descriptors for your philosophy, your personality, your mindset. My clients’ values vary from “spontaneous,” “creative,” “curious,” and “offbeat” to “exacting,” “transparent,” “reliable,” and “informed.”

2. What are your core strengths? How are you different from the competition’s CEO?
List the top attributes that mark your work style, leadership qualities, business skills, industry knowledge; and consider how you are similar and different from peers. My clients’ have answered “storyteller,” “connector,” “fair,” “innovative,” “trustworthy,” “keynote speaker,” and “results-driven.”

3. What is your company culture?
Describe the pace, the spirit, the look of your office, process, product, and people. Examples are “fail fast,” “entrepreneurial,” “disciplined,” “wise,” “exploratory,” “collaborative,” etc.

(Step 4 is reserved for those participating in our Social Media Boot Camp for Executives program.)

Save this list of your answers. It will inform how you engage on social media.

—> Next article in this seriesBe Strategic (for yourself and your company)

Follow @LizaHoran on Twitter for #CEO #SocialMedia news and tips.

*Ninety-two percent of businesses use social media, according to Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Thirty-eight percent of CEOs are on social media, according to The Social CEO 2014 by Domo and CEO.com.

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