Sunday, April 12, 2009

CEO's: The Importance of Social Networks

Take a few seconds to reflect on the communication tools used to accomplish your daily routines. Phone and email are most likely included as the primary outlets for communicating with clients and employees. This provides a comforting sense of “privacy” – information will only reach the intended parties. However, social communication platforms like Twitter and Facebook promote easy sharing - making information less likely to remain confined to the original email or phone silo.

Looking at a longitudinal study conducted by the
University of Massachusetts between 2007 and 2008 demonstrates the communication shift from “privacy” to “sharing” even at the executive level. The study examines social media involvement among executives at companies listed in Inc. Magazine’s popular “500” list. Companies included in the “Inc. 500” – the fastest growing private enterprises – experienced tremendous increase in social media adoption, boasting the following numbers:

· Social networking adoption increased from 27% in 2007 to 49% in 2008
· Blogging use reached 39% from a 19% level in 2007
· Corporate online video use grew to 45% from 24% in 2007

The increasing importance of adoption is evident but a number of questions still remain for executives before the sharing frenzy commences. For example, questions such as “What does an effective social media campaign look like for executive?” or “How much time will “sharing” consume and what types of information are appropriate?” need to be answered upfront. Examining the Twitter accounts of investor and Amazon co-founder
Steve Case or Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh – there is an obvious emphasis on distributing news and resending tweets from other users. This practice demonstrates executive “listening” while avoiding the inevitable confrontation occurring from direct conversation.

Below are some considerations for effectively incorporating social media into daily communication practices.

How Can Social Media help C-Level Executives?

1. Decisions require data. All Executives are deciosn makers. Aggregating customer and employee feedback into
a single location makes analysis and monitoring more efficient.
2. Reach everyone. Your “State of the Union” should reach the entire union. Corporate wide updates should not die a slow death on intranets or email. Duplicate the message via video, audio, or a blog post if for no other reason than because President Obama
does the same.
3. Crowdsource decisions. Nothing establishes corporate and customer loyalty more than allowing all levels to participate in the
decision making process as you are developing ideas.
4. Capture and distributing knowledge. Building a corporate blog is not feasible for every CEO but some form of participation increases humanity. Check out
ExecTweets to see what other executives share with customers and employees.
5. Business expansion. Participating in an online community allows your network to grow. Common sense but overlooked as valuable tool for expanding your business.

Airlift Ideas relationship partner in social media; Get Talked about. Contributors Andy Angelos and Marty Hitzeman are co-founders of Get Talked About – a Chicago based firm dedicated helping companies create, execute, and manage creative online conversations.

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