An infographic – recently published on CEO.com – questioned the Social Media activity (or lack thereof) amongst Fortune 500 CEOs. Frankly, I’m shocked more that this surprises anyone. The infographic, and accompanying article, present some interesting statistics about the minimal activity of those CEOs, coupled with observations on the increasing success for companies with “socially active” CEOs, as if to draw the conclusion that CEOs should jump right on in to Social Media.
→ Don’t understand the platforms
→ Can’t relate to the audiences
→ Feel too old for the engagement
→ Don’t know how to fit this into their daily routines
→ Lack education on how to best represent their company efficiently
→ OR (most importantly)they simply don’t present well in public
There are many CEOs who never speak on behalf of their company, let alone take to the marketing airwaves. Where is the study on the number of CEOs who don’t show up in their own TV advertising, or those who don’t share their opinions on talk shows, or on the radio?
It’s not necessarily a CEO’s job to represent the company publicly. If it was, they’d find ample time to fit it in, and companies would only hire supremely polished personalities for CEOs. How does a CEO benefit from splitting time and focus between marketing and innovating? This is why (for every year leading up to now) companies employed marketing and PR departments to handle these jobs. Why wouldn’t Social Media fall onto the shoulders of those departments just the same?
Therein lays our answer. Unless the individual CEO is heavily involved in representing the company publicly – appearing on TV, speaking on stage, writing original content, sharing expertise and opinions – someone else within the organization (or hired outside) is better equipped to articulate their thoughts and goals efficiently and on-message. They can project the thought leadership on behalf of the CEO much like a ghostwriter, biographer or press agent would. Even personal assistants are often used as communicators for CEOs. Having a solid team to prop up the image of the CEO as an industry leader will generate better marketing and sales results for the entire brand. However, this is a tricky proposition, and requires a team that can professionally handle such a responsibility. I have one in mind if you’re looking …
There are, however, exceptions to every rule. Those CEOs who already represent themselves, and their brand publicly, will find that online audiences are just as important as offline. While Speak Social is by no means a Fortune 500 company, I too find it difficult to make time for managing my personal Social Media. In fact, I kind of suck on Social Media. I don’t tweet often enough, I don’t blog often enough, there aren’t enough videos of me sharing my specific opinions and perspectives on our industry. I am getting there, but when I simply can’t push the message, I have an incredible team standing by to pick up those reigns. Who is your support team for such a job?
Ultimately, prioritizing the time and management of projects is not necessarily a strong suit for CEOs. Social Media is most effective when utilized by great content creators. Most CEOs are not. This simple fact makes the load hard to justify from a time management standpoint.
My suggestion to the CEO audience: find a good writer or marketing team who can articulate your dreams better than you. Give them direction and guidance, and they’ll make you (and your brand) shine. Better yet, they work for your brand, so driving results will be their priority. This leaves you to focus on innovating for the future.
Let your team take those ideas to the public.