5 Social media lessons from CEOs

16 May 2018 -

Social mediaLeading managers explain how and why they have social media accounts

Guest blogger Michelle Carvill

Learning from others is something I invest a good proportion of my time. There’s nothing like hearing real-world experience. And that applies to social media habits of managers too.

As part of Get Social: Social Media Strategy and Tactics for Leaders, my intent was to include case study interviews from leaders who are leveraging the power of social media. These are leaders that have stepped out of their comfort zone and engage with the public directly. I wanted to learn about the challenges of being a CEO with a social media presence, how these individuals manage their time and their motivations for doing so.

So here are some lessons in social media that I learned from the managers that I interviewed.


Without exception all leaders I interviewed cited 'listening in' as a key benefit of social media. Brian J Dunn, former CEO of Best Buy and one of the pioneering, truly social CEOs, put it so eloquently when he told me that: ‘Listening in helps me to see around corners.’ Social media enables you to find out what your customers, your employees, your partners, your competitors and any other stakeholders are doing and thinking. This data highlights trends in public opinion. As a leader, you should take the time to tune in and listen.


Another key steer from leaders was to master one platform at a time. You don’t have to be on every social media channel to make a success of it. Figure out which channel or channels work for you, and ensure it's relevant - and where your audience plays. Find it, own it, and then get great at it before you move on. Ask yourself: are you juggling too many irrelevant accounts? Do you have a clear strategy for the channels that work for you?


Make social media something you are – not something you do. A key push back from leaders is 'I don't have the time'. John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile told me, ‘any leader that doesn’t make time for social media is missing a huge opportunity’. The leaders I interviewed all cited that they have built social into their lives, on their terms. Whether it's reviewing the feeds over breakfast or when commuting or travelling. Build in times throughout your day or week that work for you to create a habit that becomes as natural as sending an email.


In a world where trust in CEOs is at an all-time low, you can't risk the #fakesocial syndrome. Authenticity builds trust. Your social activity has to be your voice. Again, without exception every leader I interviewed shared the importance of the words and responses being theirs. It has to be you doing the ‘doing’ – use your words, your views, your voice, online.


While the words, views and opinion has to be yours, you are by no means on your own. You're a leader, you've already got your hands full leading an organisation and inspiring your teams. Ask for help and collaborate. Kevin Burrowes, head of clients and markets at PwC, says that he sits down with his PA weekly to review and plan activity. Work with your PA, team, agency or get a coach/mentor to help you with aspects such planning your strategy, content creation and development, blog writing, video creation and importantly, accountability to help you stay on track.

My belief, and indeed the view of those I interviewed when writing Get Social is that ‘being active on social media makes you a better leader'. Agree?

Michelle Carvill is author of Get Social: Social Media Strategy & Tactics for Leaders. It is published by Kogan Page, priced £14.99.

Image: Shutterstock

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