Better than anyone else, today’s savvy CEO understands and appreciates how quickly business models and the business environment is changing due to the fast pace of technological advancements—especially the Internet and all the hardware and software that drives it.
New phenomena need to be understood and reckoned with on almost a monthly basis. One of the biggest of these to rear its head is that thing we call “social media.” Ask for a definition of “social media” and you’ll get a variety of answers. Some might say it’s “Facebook.” Others would point to “Twitter.” Some would mention “Youtube” or blogs in general.
In fact, it’s all of these things and more, along with categories of Internet sites that we haven’t yet seen. However, even as “social media” is evolving there are five things every CEO should know and understand about it.
1. Social Media Evolution
Okay, I already mentioned this one and it’s a bit of a “no-brainer” but it’s essential to keep it in the front of your mind. Social media is constantly evolving. Remember Chris DeWolfe? He was the CEO who made MySpace the number one social media site back in the day…and “the day” wasn’t that long ago. Is Mark Zuckerberg destined to become an obscure trivia question answer over the next few years? This is important to CEOs because it means you have to stay current and be ready to incorporate new social media strategies quickly. Being nimble has never been so important.
2. Social Media Empowerment
I talked about a definition of “social media” above and perhaps the best way to think of it is as social interaction across various “publishing” websites. Often the “publishing” is the social interaction and the “publishers” can be corporations, small groups or individuals. In fact, in the social media world, the individual sitting at his or her computer can have a voice as big as that of a Fortune 500 corporation. This should give all CEOs a new appreciation for their customers and clients. When the Bank of America considered applying user fees to its debit cards, the flak it got from the social media world was so strong it couldn’t be ignored. The bank had to abandon its plans. The playing field is being leveled, baby!
3. No Immediate Miracle
When Gerald Ford took over as president after Nixon’s resignation, inflation was rampant. He printed a lapel button that said WIN, for “Whip Inflation Now.” After some months, inflation wasn’t “whipped” so he turned the button upside down. Then it read NIM, for “No Immediate Miracle.” CEOs cannot expect their social media strategies to be a kind of alchemy that produces instant gold in their bottom lines. Some maverick middle schooler might hit pay dirt with a Youtube video that goes viral, but those kinds of experiences are rare and unpredictable. As a CEO, your job is to understand what can be achieved with social media and what your level of expectations should be.
4. A Wrench isn’t a Hammer
Social media isn’t a substitute for advertising, although there are opportunities to purchase advertising on social media sites. Just like you wouldn’t hammer a nail with a wrench, don’t expect to post a video on Youtube as a substitute for a traditional media ad buy. Use each social media site to do what each site does best. Facebook for example, is the ideal place to interact with your customers. You can use it to great advantage in your customer service strategy. If a user makes a complaint on your Facebook page, react to it immediately. It will make a big impression and bolster your image. If you sell products that come with instruction booklets, transform them to Youtube videos. Be creative.
5. You Talkin’ to Me?
Here’s the bottom line: social media is all about communication. As a CEO, you can use it to talk to your clients. However, they can also use it to talk back to you and even more importantly, talk to third parties about you. Think about what you want to communicate and think about what you want other people to be saying about you. You know how we would all like to know what people will say about us at our funerals? Social media almost does that, although hopefully it won’t be at your company’s funeral. This means you need to have a positive and proactive presence in the social media or virtual world and a high quality company that meets your customers’ expectations in the real world.
Neville Luff is a marketing strategist for JD Edwards Portal. They provide a personalizable, collaborative, and modern enterprise resource planning system. Check out JD Edwards Portal at http://www.go9withjde.com/en/