The Social CEO: Are Agency Leaders Missing an Opportunity?

Compared with most sectors, the marketing industry is quick to adopt new technologies. Social media is case and point of this. Marketers were first to exploit the early marketing opportunities presented by Twitter and Instagram etc. Understanding the brand-building potential of new technology is part of what agencies get paid for.

With the more established social media channels now part of everyday life. More and more leaders, in every industry, are using social media as a way to raise the profile of their businesses, help communicate with customers & employees and build trust.

With this in mind, are agency leaders missing a trick by not being active on the appropriate social media channels?

Let’s explore the benefits and potential risks in a bit more detail.

First, the risks…

 

Reputation

Elon Musk’s high profile (and expensive) Twitter misstep is the best example of the potential risk to reputation unbridled tweets can cause. His claim to have enough funding to take Tesla private at $420 a share caught the eye of the Securities and Exchange Commission. They fined him $20 million and fined Tesla a further $20 million for not having the correct processes in place to control Musk’s twitter communications.

This is an extreme example but demonstrates that power tweets have to move markets and cause chaos.

 

Sap on time

Finding the time to commit to social media can be tricky. Without proper discipline and clear objectives, it’s too easy to waste time and not see results. However, a focused, regular and dedicated social media effort can be extremely valuable.

Social media can also be dipped into between meetings or tasks. It doesn’t need to take up too much time and can be done anywhere. It’s more a question of getting into the habit and building the activity into your routine. A small investment of time on a regular basis is the best way to structure your efforts.

 

Cybersecurity

Any form of online communication comes with risk.  Social media is no riskier than email and we all use email multiple times every day. World leaders are now active on Twitter – if they can make it work with the security considerations associated with their roles, it shouldn’t be an issue for business people. If common sense prevails, the actual risks are minimal.

And now the benefits…

 

Networking

Twitter and LinkedIn allow you to network at any time and from anywhere. I’m not suggesting blindly sending out LinkedIn invitations or following hundreds of people on Twitter hoping for them to follow you back. I’m talking about joining in relevant conversations, sharing insightful content and being helpful.

There will be opportunities for you to demonstrate your expertise. Treat it like you would networking in the traditional sense. Be polite, friendly and don’t be salesy.

 

Engaging with employees

75% of top-rated CEOs on Glassdoor are using social channels. It’s all about accessibility. It’s not possible for CEOs of large organisations to spend time with every employee. When senior management spends time with their employees, it benefits everyone. The leaders get to hear first hand about the day-to-day challenges faced on the front line. The employees get the chance to hear more about the long-term vision of the business. In turn, they will feel more engaged and hopefully empowered to do the best job they can.

Platforms like Twitter allow CEOs to have this dialogue at scale and across multiple territories. Employees will feel more connected with the leadership’s vision and will have a clear line of communication with senior management. Similarly, the leadership team will have a direct and real-time source of feedback. The benefits for employee engagement are huge.

 

Learning about clients

The power of social listening is well documented. People are spending increasing amounts of time on social media and so are your clients. More and more senior marketers are active on twitter and most CMOs will have a LinkedIn profile. If you’re not participating then you’re missing out on a rich source of (free) information on your potential and existing clients.

“Social media, used correctly, can be an executive productivity tool, a global broadcast channel, a source of consumer and competitor intel, and a PR vehicle.”

- Ryan Holmes, CEO at Hootsuite

 

Building trust

Trust is the cornerstone of any business relationship. Gone are the days of CEOs positioned in ivory towers. In today’s world, a lack of openness is viewed with suspicion from employees and clients alike. Looking at the 4 fundamentals of trust mentioned in an earlier article, two of the four can be enhanced through social media.

Firstly, credibility - this is about what is said and how it’s communicated. Raising your status as an intelligent, tuned-in and knowledgeable expert on social media is only going to enhance the profile of your agency.

Secondly, intimacy - this is all about connecting on an emotional level and sharing information that isn’t limited to business. Demonstrate you are human and show personality. This comes back to the notion of accessibility – you buy from people you trust and building trust requires openness.

 

Framing relevant news

The final benefit is for agency leaders to develop a perspective and comment on relevant industry news. Important news stories will spark debate on social media. This presents an excellent opportunity for leaders to join conversations or comment on pertinent stories.  This will further add to your credibility and build trust.

 

Putting it into practice

Like anything, it’s important to have a strategy. Think about where your potential clients spend their time. For most agencies, this will be LinkedIn and Twitter. Instagram is a good bet if your work is visual and you have a steady flow of content to keep things fresh. I’d focus on one main channel and support it with a secondary platform.

If you aren’t building your personal social media reach in conjunction with your agency’s profile, you’re undoubtedly missing a trick.

The rewards far outweigh the risks. Even for Elon Musk.