Today I would like to shine a light on corporate leadership in social media ie in the social business environment.
I did do a segment on internet radio on this topic but I thought a complementary post is in order. Like any major change in an organization, it starts at the very top i.e. The CEO. I believe you need a social CEO to really drive a social business environment to succeed. Dabbling in a social environment and putting a junior staff, social coordinator or intern is not implementing a social business capability. I cannot tell you how many business leaders and owners who believe they have implemented a social business environment in their organization because they got an employee to open up an account somewhere. Voila! Social this is NOT.
A social business is a mindset, a culture, a way of operating. The platforms (accounts) are tools for that social operating environment.
So what about that social CEO?
Back in 2010, Amber McArthur wrote an article about CEOs who were active online and determined that less than 8% of CEOs were in fact active in social media. More recently IBM conducted a study with over 1700 CEOs from around the world to determine their perspective on social business. This 2012 study suggests that this number is climbing and we can now talk of “ the 16% CEOs active in the social environment”.The study also indicated that this percentage will likely grow to 57% within 5 years. Why? because CEOs are beginning to recognize that using email and the phone to get the message out isn’t sufficient anymore. I think the potential projected increase is encouraging. It is an indicator of the birth of corporate leadership in social media. However that message does suggests more education is required. Because if social media is only going to be used to get a CEO message out then that CEO requires additional education on what it means to be social.
Today, although there are a number of businesses in the social space, there is a marked absence of the C-level leaders. One way of assessing the view of the C-level leaders towards their social business, is to assess the value they put on community management. To me, community management and interacting with the public in the social space is a very important role. This role becomes the face, voice and brand of the organization. Corporate leadership in social media should start here. It is at this “interface” that the relationship is being built. I always shake my head when I see a community management job posting targeting the most junior person to do this role. It gives me a sense of the value an organization puts on the interaction with the public in this space. So what does this have to do with C-level leadership? I am not proposing that C-level leaders have to be community managers. Not at all, but what I am saying is that the C-level sets the tone in an organization and consequently whether they ensure that the relationships and interaction with prospects/public in the social space is strategic i.e. the value they see in that interaction. So the question here is… “Is the interaction one person’s role or it is the role of many including senior/executive managers?” Just by answering that question, I can tell how an organization has positioned their organization in the social space. To me, it is about developing a social environment. Not a task on someone’s job description. Tick. Of course there is also the use of the social tools. Some companies and industry sectors have used social tools to only broadcast and push their message without the option of commentary from visitors and the public. This often gets the opposite result, that company had hoped for. In fact, Facebook banned that behavior last year. There use to be an option where you could remove the commenting feature. This is no longer the case. Many companies left Facebook because of it. Being social is not about a one way communication and it is not one person’s role especially one of a junior staff member. Being social is a mindset and a mind set that includes the C-level leaders. Corporate leadership in social media means all corporate leaders in the organization. It is the mindset of the collective within an organization and the reason why I call it a social business capability. A capability that requires strong leadership at the top. The C-level needs to model the model.
What is your experience? Is there corporate leadership and social media? As always, would love to hear.