C-SUITE Executives Are Terrible at Social Media
Most CEOs and C-suite executives are either inactive on social media, or don’t make very compelling content to benefit their companies.
It might be because they are too busy to deal with it. Or they think it should be someone else’s job. Or maybe they are just scared to engage because they are unfamiliar with the latest and greatest technology. Or maybe all of that.
But there is one way they could get better: practice.
Ten years ago, companies placed a great priority on media training to prepare for the glaring spotlight of a tough television interview. No one wanted to go down in flames in front of a reporter; they’d call in the PR department to sit the CEO or President down and practice interview techniques.
The team would work on “messaging” and “delivery” and “bridging” from one topic to the next. They’d set up cameras in a simulated studio and practice taking the “hard questions” from a mock reporter who’d press them on the key issues they’d likely face in a real situation.
The same basic practices for media training really should be happening for social media training as well, with as much intensity as it was in the aftermath of the Tylenol cyanide scare, or the Exxon oil spill, or the TWA 800 crash, or the BP Oil Spill.
Too frequently senior company leadership are not involved in the social media process. It’s outsourced to marketing professionals or the PR agency.
Often as a result the CEO doesn’t have the skill or the understanding for how to deal with a fast-breaking situation on social media. Even if the PR department is prepared, there can be a bottleneck trying to get the senior leaders on board to approve a 240-character social media post.
That won’t suffice in a world where crisis response takes place on Twitter first and TV news second.
Just as in the days before social media primacy, people still want to hear from the top person. They need to know that the ship is being steered confidently and appropriately.
And, that can’t happen if the CEO’s twitter account hasn’t been used since 2015, or if she’s been tweeting exclusively about her latest vacation or posting photos of cat memes, or if the account is sitting idle as a legal team is reviewing the post
Warren East, Rolls-Royce CEO forgets his training, smiles and smirks while talking about firing 9,000 employees due to the impact of the coronavirus in the aerospace industry.
Former Boeing CEO and Chairman Dennis Muilenburg posted his first real apology on Twitter six months after the first of two 737 MAX crashes in which many considered insincere. Boeing was forced to deactivate the account after he was fired, and the new CEO David Calhoun has yet to reengage on Twitter.
Social Media Training Best Practices
Some best practices that Xenophon recommends for executives to follow include:
- Be present and active – It’s easy to forget to post and engage with consumers, but it’s also easy to learn how to set up a routine that keeps you visible to followers. There are even platforms like Sprout Social and Hootsuite that help you set a schedule for posting.
- Use a buddy system – If there is concern about posting the wrong thing, set up a peer-review system to ensure that what’s about to be posted is appropriate. Again, certain social media apps allow you to draft posts that can then be reviewed by others.
- Be genuine – No one wants to read stock messaging and links to press releases. So, it’s critical that accounts don’t feel like they’re artificial and robotic. Tell your followers exciting news, engage with them, and act like yourself.
For more on Xenophon’s social media training services and how we can help C-suite execs comfortable with and engaging with their audiences, please visit: here