Social media for CEOs

The explosion in the use of social media over the past five years has changed the way that people interact. Allan Biggar discusses why CEOs need to switch on to using it

I seem to spend most of my life on a plane, or on the way to the airport or at the airport. Thank God for Blackberry, iPhone and the plethora of handheld devices that allow businesses and people like me to function in today’s world.

I can read and respond to emails about my business, view memos and forecasts, helping me make the most of my time, whilst my plane is grounded by snow as was the case recently. I seem to spend most of my life on a plane, or on the way to the airport or at the airport. Thank God for Blackberry, iPhone and the plethora of handheld devices that allow businesses and people like me to function in today’s world. I can read and respond to emails about my business, view memos and forecasts, helping me make the most of my time, whilst my plane is grounded by snow as was the case recently.

CEOs and any c-level executives despite the tag of never leaving the office are secretly grateful for being connected to technology - helping to maximise their time. It makes business sense doesn’t it?

So why is it that not many CEOs look beyond using this integral wifi enabled tool to reach out into the marketplace via social media?

A survey of the top 100 Fortune companies found that only two CEOs used Twitter and 81 per cent didn’t have a Facebook. Even Linkedin the so called ‘Facebook for grown-ups’ had a mere 13 CEOs on it. You could argue they are successful business leaders because they don’t waste their time updating their status or share their pearls of wisdom on a regular basis. However what the savvy ones are doing at present is using the social media to listen to the marketplace.

Social media, it is safe to say, is not a fad that will disappear anytime soon. In 10 to 15 years’ time, the vast amount of consumers will be of the ‘Facebook generation.’ They will expect to be reached via social media, it’s where they will share experiences and suggest products and services to their friends and online groups. It is also where brand reputation will be built and or panned at the same time.

In the old days companies would rely heavily on broadcasting their message, selling the benefits and USPs of their products over that of competitors. Those that shouted the loudest would be heard and would be successful, so the theory went. Companies would define everything from the price, the values and direction and why the consumer needed the product. That relationship has now been turned on its head, thanks to the internet age and surge in the use of social media. Shouting the loudest in a crowded marketplace is no longer possible as the number of channels in which people get their information has increased. Business in order to differentiate itself must listen to the consumer and hear what they want.

Consumers now set the parameters that were once left to business. Every single tweet, status update, blog and hash tag is an opinion. As these opinions are spread across peoples’ social networks they connect with other people with similar views on products and services. From this we now have consumer groups that are hyper-connected and are able to influence and define the value of a brand, company or product. From a business perspective once an opinion has been formed by an online community, it is important for a company to go with the grain if it is positive, or change the brand in the hope it will change peoples’ views.

The trick here for c-level executives is to listen lots and talk a little. Hard for some CEOs, I know!

Knowing what the market is thinking by following what is trending, about their product, their company and their competitors is hugely beneficial. It gives an insight that is real-time and not from a structured focus group. I know it does not replace them as an affective tool at gauging public opinion, but it does serve as snap shot as to what consumers are saying.

So now that the market is defining your company, brand and product - CEOs can help shape the debate in their favour - by commenting on and directly engaging with customers. Doing this takes the consumer beyond having a relationship with a brand and makes them feel they have a relationship with the person at the top. This helps only to intensify the relationship between the two parties and can build brand loyalty.

But one of the main functions where social media can be leveraged is building brand value with the CEO serving as the company’s main advocate. Of course CEOs do this all the time in the media, but this is usually through press statements, interviews and opinion pieces via the traditional media. However, this is usually read by small majority of people compared to the millions online.

By sharing their feelings behind a brand, the industry prospects and opinions a CEO can generate discussions amongst online communities that in turn can reach more people that traditional channels would miss. Any social media-savvy CEO or c-level executive can in fact shape opinion around a brand more quickly than any amount of press releases or TV and print advertising could.

So to sum up: innovation needs to be your mantra - consumer needs are changing fast due to the social media age and these needs are being broadcast online, by millions of voices. My advice to CEOs and business is listen-up and use social media to do just that.

Allan Biggar is founder and chairman of All About Brands. For more information, videos and advice for SMEs, visit www.freshbusinessthinking.com

Voices
voices
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Test Analyst - UAT - Credit Risk

£280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried