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It's Not Your CEO's Fault He's a Social Media Moron

"I can't get my C-level exec team to buy into social media."

It seems that this has become the mantra for so many businesses, particularly Fortune 100 businesses who ought to know better.

Here's the problem. Social Media, as a genre, has been claimed by the marketing department at most companies. As they do with most marketing initiatives the C-levels let those marketers take the ball and run with it. If they succeed then super and if they fail then it's really the marketing department's gig and not the fault of any corporate policy.

That's how things have been done forever. A great CEO will surround him/herself with great C-level execs in each department then give them the leeway to run their department as they see fit. Its worked this way forever so why doesn't it work with social media?

Can you guess?

How about the fact that social media is not a one-way campaign? Rather than a company spouting off about what they do, why they do it better than others etc, a good social media campaign creates a dialogue between the company and its customers/clients. Meaning, everyone at that company has to be on the same page, iterating the same message.

Advertising campaigns can be run independently for each department because they talk "at" the audience but once a campaign is created for the social media space it's talking "with" the audience and the voice coming from the company has to be consistent across all channels.

The great irony about the lack of buy-in from C-levels is the fact that the marketing department rarely tries to get the executives engaged in social media. Whether they feel it's the role of their department to create and execute the campaign or they feel that the C-levels are too busy matters less than the fact that, without C-level involvement, a company will never see the true benefits of social media.

So, how do you convince them to take social media seriously? That's a tough one. Most C-levels will scroll down to the bottom line to determine effectiveness of any campaign but what many don't realize is that the bottom line definitions have changed with this new-fangled internet technology. All of the old measurements are moot and an entirely new dictionary is being written around ROI and brand success.

Part of the discussion has to come from tapping into members of the exec team's passion for what they do. After all, most people do not get to the top of the corporate ladder without some sort of belief in the company they're working for.

Find out why they love the company. Find out what they want people to know about the brand. Ask them what they tell people at cocktail parties or business luncheons. Getting to the root of their own, personal opinions about what they do and why will help move them toward understanding what social media can do for the company. 

If you can successfully engage the C-level executives of your company in the power of social media to promote your brand you will get a complete top/down engagement throughout the ranks. If the bosses are doing it, everyone will do it too.

That kind of solidarity brings with it great results and a strong corporate business model.

Alternatively, as marketing department members, you can just keep going it alone and hoping that you get the kind of engagement that will allow you to keep your jobs. 

Choose wisely Young Skywalker for failing to keep up is a marketer's worst sin. Good luck!

Join The Conversation

  • socialmedia-canada's picture
    Mar 4 Posted 6 years ago socialmedia-canada

    Thanks Gia,

    I might just do that! Thanks for your comments and ideas. I'm always looking for my next subject :)

  • Feb 28 Posted 6 years ago Gia Lyons (not verified)

    Great post! I think there are many C-level execs who DO get social media, but they're at a loss as to how to specifically to participate. What should a CEO tweet about? How often should she tweet? How does she justify the time it takes to develop relationships with their brand community? That last one, I think, is a kicker. Or, are C-Levels supposed to be thought leaders, creating thought-leading content in social media? I would love to see you write a blog post with some examples - what should Fortune 1000 C-Level execs actually be doing in social media, beyond simply supporting engagement in it throughout their company?

  • Feb 22 Posted 6 years ago Anonymous (not verified)

     

    We don't want social media to equalize the playing field in business?

    We just want the same old oafs (you call them execs I think) catching up so they can integrate SoMed into their business as usual lifestyles?

    great...

  • socialmedia-canada's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 6 years ago socialmedia-canada

    Thanks for your comments Tony.

    Don't you know? Canadians never think they're the "center of infinity". :)

    Also, I will never stop pointing out the mis-steps and mis-deeds as I see them. It's your prerogative to argue the merits of any post you like. Though I would suggest you refrain from name-calling. We're all on the same team here so perhaps "constructive" criticism would be more apropos.

    Cheers,

    Jacquie.

     

     

  • socialmedia-canada's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 6 years ago socialmedia-canada

    Thanks Michael.

    I think my #1 asset is my ability to drill all concepts down to their basic principles then explain them. Sometimes it takes that to get through to people who don't love change. 

    Anyone at the forefront of SM technology is going to be a change-lover. It's up to us to get the rest of the peeps on board so they can start building their following more authentically. 

    My personal goal in life is to hold companies accountable for their actions through the use of social media. I don't want to see any more Madoff-esque nonesense ever again! 

    :)

  • socialmedia-canada's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 6 years ago socialmedia-canada

    Thanks for your comments Christopher. I hope your CEO got it eventually. Otherwise your talents are wasted my friend! :)

     

  • Feb 22 Posted 6 years ago Christopher Decker (not verified)

    Jacquie - 

    This was a phenomenal post. I've always felt the way you do about this topic, but never put it so eloquently as you have done. 

    I used to work at a company where the CEO had absolutely NO CLUE about social media and how it could impact his business. I even took it upon myself to spearhead a social media committee and presented to their entire company ways to generate more business and find potential clients with it. He seemed mum about it. And I am certain it's because he had no desire to learn and wanted to stick with the mundaneness of traditional marketing techniques. As Levi Spires pointed out, everything had to be looked over, and the little that we were doing with social media was the same way. 

    The important thing to remember about social media is that it IS a two-way street. You're totally right - when it comes to social media, a businesses cant always tout how much better they are. Any smart CEO would be cognizant of the fact that getting everyone involved just makes them look better.

    I'll be sharing this page on my Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/GetSocialnomical

    Thanks again for the great read! :)

  • Feb 21 Posted 6 years ago Michael R. H. S... (not verified)

    Hello Jacquie,

    This is a terrific post, remarkable not only in its freshness but also in its acumen.  I have been doing this for twenty years as the President of Jericho Technology, and a decade before that as a C-Level excutive for a $40 billion company, and I am still amazed at the naivete of many C-level contemporaries.

    You might be interested in a post I authored on the subject:

    http://jerichotechnology.com/marketing/the-social-media-ceo/

    Also a Brainshark presentation on the same subject:

    http://jerichotechnology.com/marketing/top-7-reasons-for-lackluster-social-media-results/

    In any case, my compliments!

    Michael R. H. Stewart

  • Feb 21 Posted 6 years ago Tony Austin (not verified)

    Look, there is a  lot of great info at this site but why do all the articles here have to be written from the vantage point of superior arrogance? The rhetorical style here really bugs me. At best all of you are only one page ahead of yoru readers. Quick acting like you guys are the center of infinity.

    Nobody understands social media yet because the dynamics are too fluid don't pretend you do. Internet histpry prooved you wrong.- i.e. Facebook use to be called MySpace; before that it was called, Friendster; before that, AOL; beofre that, IRC; and before that USEnet, before that a local bar.

    Stop already.

     

  • socialmedia-canada's picture
    Feb 21 Posted 6 years ago socialmedia-canada

    Hey Liron!

    Absolutely! Nothing burns up the exec team more than seeing how others are having more success than they are :)

    Thanks for your comments. 

     

  • socialmedia-canada's picture
    Feb 21 Posted 6 years ago socialmedia-canada

    Hey Levi,

    I'm not sure that the ceo has to see the actual tweets so much as be in on the entire social media strategy conversation. That's where they really fall short I think.

    If a company has buy in from the c-levels and they all collaborate on a strategy it should be a no-brainer on content. i.e. everything feeds that strategy until they meet to tweak it. Including any tweets, status updates, youtube vids from the higher ups.

    Find the passion, find the business model, create the strategy, engage everyone!

  • socialmedia-canada's picture
    Feb 21 Posted 6 years ago socialmedia-canada

    Don't give up Mike. Maybe just find another company that gets it and understands that employee engagement is one of the pillars of a great social media campaign.

    Your marketing exec is one of those people that have their head up their ass. He's old-school and will, ultimately, ruin the sm with those antiquated marketing tactics. i.e. "marketing runs the social media campaign". 

    Until they learn that the purpose of social media is to humanize their brand, provide value and actually connect and engage with their clients/customers, they're not going to get very far.

    Alas, this is the issue. Old-school tactics fail big time when it comes to SM. 

    That said, you could try a hail mary before you bail and go in with some good research behind you to tell them why they are morons and what you can do to fix it. Who  knows? It might gain you a new position! :)

    Good luck!

  • Feb 21 Posted 6 years ago Mike Walters (not verified)

    I have just experienced a slight variation on this...  I think the new directors of my little company understand the importance of SM (they use a lot of acronyms to describe stuff), but don't really get how to use it.

    A couple fo weeks back now I was politely asked to supply the new marketting exec with the username and password for my Twitter account.  Within half a day the username had been changed and the email and password on the account reset, locking me out of the company account I had set up.  They have since let me back in but I have lost all interest as they are just using it to now to spout selling messages.  At the same time I was requested to take down my Facebook page so that an "expert" could recreate it identically, remove all my posts and simply link it to the Twitter feed (or was that the other way around?).

    I give up :)

  • Feb 21 Posted 6 years ago Levi Spires (not verified)

     

    Many of our Internet marketing clients are part of the supply chain for mobile app devices. It looks as if there is more than enough room for this market to expand beyond just the few major players always discussed.
    While I agree that the process is key from a back end perspective, the front end "look" and functionality is key. In fact, Mac's most impressive aspect is the seamless integration on all their platforms.

    Many of our <a href="www.site-seeker.com">Internet marketing</a> clients hear buzz words and get very excited. Facebook, tweets and etc. seem to drive the conversation in a fun way. But everything changes it comes to implementation of any social media project. Social media is meant to be quick and easy but businesses can really screw that up.

    Have any of you ever had an executive that wants to see all tweets before they go out?

     

  • Feb 20 Posted 6 years ago Liron Segev - T... (not verified)

    Awesome post !

    I find that an effective way to get the executive's buy-in is to show them what their competitors are doing. The hate to see their competitors succeed.

    I run a search on Twitter, a search on LinkedIn, a search on Facebook and only finally a search on Google. I then run the same searches but with their own company and compare the results.

    As you rightly said, executives have a passion for their business and this gets them really hot-under-the-collar and they want action NOW to make sure that their busienss beats the competitor.

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