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The Social CEO

I have had this blog post in the back of my head for years. Today I have finally been spurred on to write it following a debate I have just had on Twitter, inspired by a post by Stephen Waddington.

This post is about The Social CEO. I’d like to say that I’d coined the phrase but I haven’t – it’s all over the web – but I do firmly believe that The Social CEO is a Good CEO.

A lot has been said about whether or not CEOs should be on social media or whether they have ‘more important’ things to do. My belief, having run a business for the last sixteen years and for the last five or six of those been increasingly active on social media, is that all CEOs should be Social CEOs.

There are many reasons why. But there is one overriding reason that should capture the attention of all CEOs. This is simply that people are more likely to want to do business with a company that has a visible CEO.

If you doubt that, then just wait a minute. Because as each second passes, this becomes ever more true as we all adopt social media more widely and we expect the companies and people we deal with to do so also.

There are many other arguments in favour of The Social CEO also, such as that a Social CEO will be closer to his or her customers employees and other stakeholders, be more understanding of the importance of reputation, be more open to the wider influence of his or her organisation – the list goes on.

But there is one big argument against The Social CEO. This is the perception that it’s a waste of time, that it is not a time-efficient way to effect the things mentioned above. Well, maybe some CEOs will allow social to impact their efficiency. But not many. Most know what their priorities are, and will use resources around them to solve time management issues and be able to incorporate social media activity with relative ease.

I believe that in reality the vast majority of CEOs would be smart in the way they use time to be social, for example use ‘dead’ time like in the coffee queue, on the train platform, in taxis, during boring conference sessions and – dare I say it – sitting on the loo, as the time to be on social media. The current generation of smartphones makes this totally doable. (I CEO without a smartphone? I can’t imagine it.)

Also, I would hazard a guess that many CEOs spend a lot of time on the golf course (and we don’t question that, do we). I dare say some of that time would be much better spent on social media, potentially engaging a lot more people than just the cronies in the 19th hole, don’t you think?

[Credit also to Steve Walker for the inspiration behind this post.]

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