Posts Tagged ‘Social CEOs’
As I mentioned, I am traveling in Asia to talk about social CEOs and generally spread the good word about our thought leadership and Weber Shandwick. It is so terribly interesting to present our research and learn what people have to say and listen to the kinds of questions they ask. Today in Shanghai someone asked me what type of emotional commitment a CEO has to make to become a social CEO. What a great question! It definitely takes an emotional commitment. Not only does a CEO have to commit time and resources but there is a genuine personal commitment as that goes hand in hand with being social. You are putting yourself on the line as well as your ego. It also takes courage. In our new upcoming research which we have not released yet, executives are quite aware that being a social CEO takes courage. It is not for the faint-hearted. However, one CEO reminded me that the CEO job is all about risk anyhow. True.
In addition, at a presentation yesterday in Beijing, someone mentioned that even if you cannot get your CEO to be social (meaning using social media in some shape or form), CEOs need to commit to “the intrinsic value of sociability.” He rightly said that sociability (whether online or not) should not be ignored in this business environment. It can make a significant difference. Smart advice.
As you already know, I am keenly interested in how CEOs manage their tenures. In my book on CEO reputation, I referred to the various stages of a CEO’s tenure as the seasons of a CEO. When I wrote it several years ago, it started with the Countdown period (pre-announcement), the first 100 days, the first year, the middle years and ends with the last 100 hours and legacy-setting. Since then, I have continued to follow CEOs closely but have been particularly fascinated by how CEOs can use social platforms to build their companies’ reputations and to some extent, their own. That is what I explained in this new article on CEOs getting social in their early tenure. (See also Weber Shandwick’s Socializing Your CEO II)
Surprising to me, despite billions of people communicating and socializing online, little has changed in experts’ advice to CEOs or other executives on how to navigate their early tenure by taking advantage of social tools. In three separate research investigations on how CEOs spend their time by Harvard Business School, the European University Institute and the London School of Economics, and Fondazione Rodolfo Debenedetti, the words “social” or “digital” did not appear once in the nearly 30,000 words written. Management consultants’ white papers on CEO transitions reveal little attention to how to effectively use social platforms. I have about 15 articles with smart advice on CEO successions and transitions that I send to new CEOs and not one mentions using social media. Further still, an online search of the most relevant 30 hits for “how CEOs should use social media in their first 100 days” does not retrieve a concise blueprint whatsoever. Instead, the mentions consist of lists of Twittering CEOs, reasons why CEOs don’t use social media, events and primers for getting into the social game, articles written by CEOs of digital agencies, and do’s and don’ts for CEOs who use social media.
Social media should be incorporated into new CEOs’ early playbooks. Whether CEOs are communicating, engaging in two-way conversation or simply listening in, social media platforms should be gradually adopted. As technology increasingly permeates all aspects of business and society, CEOs cannot afford to be out of touch with their cultures, how their products or services are being received and what their competitors are up to. Moreover, as the next generation of technology-literate CEOs start taking office as 77 million baby boomers leave the stage, being socially-literate will become the norm, not the exception.
For these reasons and because all these management consultants seemed to be overlooking social media as a leadership tool in their early CEO days, I wrote this article titled Get Social: A Mandate for New CEOs. It just appeared this week on MIT Sloan Management Review’s nicely redesigned Social Business site. Please take a look if you are a new CEO and getting the social bug! Or if you are advising CEOs to jump on the social bandwagon even a little. I firmly and proudly believe that this might be the first (or among the very first) articles on how and why CEOs should be social citizens at the start of their tenures and not wait til their seasons come to an end. There are some great examples from CEOs and presidents of companies such as Aetna, Etsy, GM, MassMutual, Best Buy and BAE.
It is that time of the year. Last day of 2012 and the start of a new 2013. I posted an article to Huffington Post on what I see ahead by looking backward at reputation trends bubbling up and trends on the vast horizon. Here is the post if you want to settle into the new year with a clear lenses on reputation possibilities.
Wishing you a happy new year!
A week or so ago, I started a new Twitter account on social media for CEOs — @social4ceos . As you know, I’m interested in how CEOs are adopting social media at all stages of their tenure — in the first 100 days, year one, year two and so on. At Weber Shandwick, we did an audit on Fortune 500 CEOs and their participation in social media… Socializing Your CEO and we are working towards the sequel.
Just wanted to let you know that I will be providing information a la Twitter on the topic of Social CEOs to help steer CEOs and their executives towards the social side of the wired hemisphere.
I have always wanted to do this research. I was glad to see that someone else did it — how CEOs spend their time. Over the many years that I have been involved in understanding and studying CEOs, I have been asked for whatever information I have on how CEOs spend their day and particularly how they gather information. Many of our clients want to better understand where they are and what they do all day. In addition, I have always maintained that employees wonder too. If you asked employees, what their CEO does all day, most would not have the foggiest idea. Many people, in fact, think that CEOs spend their days counting money.
So the research by a team of academics from the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School set out to answer the question of what the boss is doing most of the time. Some of the findings are discussed in today’s WSJ. The Executive Time Project, as it is dubbed, found that this is how the average CEO’s 55 hour work week breaks out. Interestingly, they had CEOs’ assistants fill out the diaries to gather the information.
- 18 hours in meetings
- 20 hours in miscellaneous (travel, exercise, personal appointments, etc)
- 6 hours working alone
- 5 hours in business meals
- 2 hours in public events
- 2 hours on conference calls
- 2 hours on phone calls
That equates to the following over a year (figuring 50 weeks with 2 weeks off for vacation):
- 900 hours in meetings per year
- 1,000 hours in miscellaneous (travel, exercise, personal appointments, etc)
- 300 hours working alone
- 250 hours in business meals
- 100 hours in public events
- 100 hours on conference calls
- 100 hours on phone calls
Obviously, they spend a LOT of time in meetings and probably traveling. Again, some of the questions I would like answered has to do with how much time these captains of industry spend using social media or monitoring what is being said about their companies online. Although there is mention in the article about a CEO who also uses his time texting, instant messaging and video chatting, the time spent being “social” was not broken out. How many are Social CEOs? Will have to investigate if they were able to isolate that piece of information but doubt it.
Chris Perry (@cperry248) who is our digital communications president, wrote this really good post on Forbes about social CEOs. I am taking the liberty of repeating his 5 must-dos for CEOs wanting to get social or even considering it.
I would probably add one more and that is to find yourself a buddy who can read your Tweets as a sounding board when you first get started. I think that that second opinions can save oneself from having a red face and worth the try until you feel comfortable enough to try it alone. And maybe it’s worth having a buddy just as good practice when it comes to Tweeting or even Facebook. They might not be good golfing buddies but hey, this is a new age. Take his advice. It is seriously good.
Here they are…..straight from Chris.
Realize you shine bright in social mediums.
Social media participation is a public appearance where everything is on the record. Assume that comments will be picked up by the press as well as examined closely by your customers, staff and others watching your company. Speak and act accordingly.
Recognize your role as Chief Narrator.
Social platforms like Twitter aren’t a sounding board for a CEOs innermost thoughts; they’re an extension of other modes of communication you use as the lead executive of your organization. There’s great opportunity to share thoughts on your company or industry issues that get amplified through networks that reach employees, investors, customers and the press. As with existing communications efforts have a plan in place as you engage.
Anticipate social remarks being a part of a permanent public record.
Avoid posting or tweeting on topics that you would never discuss aloud in a public forum. Badmouthing competitors, going too deep into personal affairs or speaking about divisive issues is not the way to go. Don’t be gun-shy when engaging online, but anticipate that what you say will generate the same reaction as if it were published in the press.
Don’t court controversy if you can’t take the heat.
Opinions on relevant industry issues and current events that affect your business are fine. But steer clear of statements that might be controversial – unless you want to be at the center of the storm. Off the cuff remarks can have a massive ripple effect to be managed your staff, PR team and others tied to the issue after the fact. Pause for a moment in private before you go public.
Despite the inherent risks embrace your humanity.
Words of caution don’t mean you can’t let your personality shine through. In fact, this is one of the best ways CEOs can engage on a deeper, more human level with stakeholders. Personal insights into what it’s like to lead an organization show authenticity. Just remember that there are limits to what’s appropriate to share.
Any leader looking to engage through social media can harness the power, or suffer from the peril, of the medium. While it provides a forum for new interaction, new communications policies have similarities to traditional media guidelines.
Keeping that in mind will help you participate in ways that adds value, not headaches, to your organization.
If you regularly read my blog and know our work on Socializing Your CEO, you know that I follow social CEOs or other executives. Well, this story was not what I was thinking about when we first starting calling for more CEOs to use online technology.
I was delighted to see this forecast for 2011 in The Economist about CEOs. The article, Words Fail Them, strikes a chord with me as I look ahead too. As I mentioned in my last post, I made some predictions about Reputation Trends for 2011 on Huffington Post. One of the eight trends was the Ascendancy of Social CEOs. In our research on Social CEOs, we advised that CEOs consider video as a primary tool for communications. The Economist article agreed that video was critical to this new age of communications but was much bolder than I was:
- Email as a mass communications tool for corporate messages will be finished. Video will be recognized as more effective for reaching internal and external stakeholders.
- Video is expected to be more than 75% of Internet traffic by 2012. The Economist believes that over the next 12 months, companies will be driving video usage and leading it.
- A different kind of person will ascend to the corner office who can take advantage of video’s simplicity and immediacy. That’s an interesting prediction! A little too close to the CEO celebrity argument that died a sudden death a few years back. The Economist said: ”Charisma will be back in: all successful business chiefs will have to be storytellers and performers. Just as political leaders have long had to be dynamite on TV to stand much hope of election or survival, so too will corporate leaders. They must be able to sell not only their vision of their companies but their vision of themselves.”
- The Economist then made this rather shocking prediction which I don’t buy: “With this shift will come a change in management style. Numbers and facts will be supplanted by appeals to emotion to make employees and customers do what they are told. The businessperson’s emotion may be no more genuine than the politician’s, but successful bosses will get good at faking it.” Obviously you can’t fake leadership and performance through video, as good a tool as it may be. I agree that CEOs will need to master video and master it fast but they cannot pretend to be what they are not and cannot say that which is not true.
I agree wholeheartedly that video will move up the communications chain with lightning speed but authenticity and transparency will still matter when it comes to reputation….no matter who is speaking.
Since we at Weber Shandwick did that analysis on socializing CEOs and how to turn CEOs from (UN)social to social, I’ve been fascinated by the increasing examples that are popping up. In the December issue of HBR, there is a very good piece on Best Buy CEO’s Brian Dunn and his experience in the digital space. The article starts out with an attention-getting example of how someone hijacked his Twitter handle and wrote “I’ve been having a lot of great sex lately, and here’s why.” The link attached to it was for a Viaga-like pill. (Lesson Learned: Regularly change your password)
Dunn explains his sticking with social media and the many benefits. Here are a few reasons he enjoys being a social CEO.
- Provides the opportunity to interact directly with customers and employees
- Provides insights into trends and news
- It is not just a trend or fad that will fade away
- Lets people know what the CEO is thinking about (from store visits or customers he meets)
Then he says it all: “I like how posting about these things allows us all to be humanized a little bit.” Being social, even for a limited amount of time or on one platform such as Facebook, gives CEOs or other executives some personality and humanity.
Like everything new, it is easier to find reasons not to. But there are many reasons to join the digital conversation, if only to insure that you and your company are in the conversation and where your customers are hanging out. I agree it is not for every CEO but wade in and give it a try.
I was surprised in our recent research on Social CEOs that CEOs we studied were not silent over the past two years. Whether in spite of or because many CEOs and their companies suffered significant reputational blows in the past year, CEOs did not pull back from traditional media — newspapers, magazines and news services — but used them as vehicles to narrate their company point of view and tell the story as they saw fit. In 2009, the world’s top CEOs were quoted 28% more than in 2007. If you remember, 2007 was a good year when everyone had a reason to speak up. CEOs are clearly taking their role as company narrator to heart. I believe they now realize that silence gets filled by detractors and over the past two years, the knives have surely been out. As well, I think that boards are more demanding of their CEOs to take their story to the media. In five years, I think that more CEOs will be taking to the “social” airwaves as well.