Social media: an executive’s best friend or worst enemy. While it’s true that most businesses should maintain a presence, there’s debate as to whether or not the CEO should be involved in content creation and postings. When done correctly, a CEO with an active social media presence can drive sales, empower employees, and produce results. When done incorrectly, that same individual can cause embarrassment, controversy and negative press.
When it works
Here are a few winning examples:
- When You Show Personality: There’s a reason why 4.53 million (!) people follow John Legere (T-Mobile) on Twitter. He’s creative, fun-loving, collaborative and competitive, albeit irreverent. Through his use of hilarious memes, interesting articles, and ability to connect with customers, Legere’s page has helped to boost his company’s image. Likewise, Aaron Levie (Box) knows a thing or two about making friends. With just over 2 million followers, Levie keeps folks in the loop on new product development and collaboration while sprinkling in humor and note worthy content.
- When You Inspire: When you invent cool things like electric cars and rocket ships, people get pretty excited. When you take said people (12.8 million twitter followers) along on the journey, people buy in. Thanks Elon Musk!
- When You Help Others: In the face of tragedy, CEO’s have the unique ability to unite, mobilize relief efforts and raise funds. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) is the perfect example. He has repeatedly used his personal Facebook page to raise money for those in need, most recently the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund and to promote Facebook’s “Crisis Response” tool. Brian Chesky (Airbnb) reached out to his 252,000 Twitter followers to promote his company’s Disaster Response Program and to encourage Airbnb hosts to open their doors to those affected. And when AirAsia flight 8501 crashed in 2014, killing all 162 passengers, Tony Fernandez, CEO, took to social media to offer condolences to the victim’s families, boost company morale and update the public on recovery efforts.
When it Doesn’t
Here are a few that missed the mark:
- When You are Offensive, Derogatory, Misogynistic, Racist, Sexist, Etc.: For obvious reasons, companies do not take kindly to CEOs alienating or upsetting customers with their personal social media rants. When you’re the CEO of say, the entire country, it’s no different. President Donald Trump has had his fair share of Twitter snafus this year, most notably re-tweeting a meme showing him hitting former First Lady, Hillary Clinton, with a golf ball. Additionally, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes came under fire recently for tweeting an offensive sex hotline to a reporter that he was unhappy with.
- When You are Not the Only One Managing Your account: A CEO needs to be able to trust staff members with social media login credentials. Senator Ted Cruz learned this one the hard way when a staffer “accidentally” liked a pornographic video on his official page. And don’t even get us started on Anthony Weiner…
The long and short of it: CEOs need to recognize if they don’t have the right temperament or voice to carefully and effectively communicate on behalf of their company and to positively project their company’s brand. If they are not the right person to handle communication, that’s okay! On the other hand, if a CEO has a proven track record of great social media connection, they can be an incredibly effective voice for their company. Every organization should have a different social media strategy tailored around the mission of the organization and the strength of its individuals and communication experts.
If you think it’s time for a social media audit, give us a call – we do that and we’d love to help.