Our firm is all over social media for our own purposes and we think most of our clients should do the same. However, we get a lot of pushback from older executives who promote it for their companies but consider it personally inappropriate for someone their position. Any thoughts on this issue?
The client's industry, culture and marketing plan will largely determine the extent to which a company as a whole uses social media. However, neither a company's use nor lack of use requires the executive to do the same. Even if a company is not or cannot be highly active in social media, there are benefits to the executive being so. These include the obvious presence among stakeholders (including employees) created by their participation and the consequent creation or strengthening of a personal social media "brand." Also, an executive's participation on social media likely gives them a new and broader insight into the world of their stakeholders and industry than they would otherwise have. For executives, it is this "inbound" knowledge that creates new perspectives and advises their ideas about strategy and tactics. This is probably the unspoken real value of social media for executives. While talking (i.e., blogging, tweeting, posting) has value, listening through social media is critical.
In almost every industry, more consumers, suppliers, vendors and market intermediaries are spending an increasing proportion of their time on social media (an average
of 5 hours per month). For an executive to avoid going where his or her stakeholders (and peers) are gives up important knowledge about where his or her company is now and should be going. Tip:
An article in Chief Executive
, Should CEOs Use Social Media?
describes succinctly other reasons for executives to participate in social media. Research and anecdotal evidence from CEOs themselves make a strong case for why you serve your executive clients well by helping them engage in social media.© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA