Want to be a Better Leader? Look Beyond the Four Common Social Media Myths

Maria Dykstra, Co-founder, Tredigital

Want to be a Better Leader? Look Beyond the Four Common Social Media Myths

If you’re a CEO or company founder, there’s no doubt social media is part of your executive strategy. The hitch? There are at least four common social media myths executives stumble over in the path to digital community connection.

Social: Executives on Board

According to a recent study, 83% of US respondents perceived CEOs actively participating in Social Media as better leaders. They also thought that the CEOs personal connections via social media contributed to stronger trust with customers, partners and investors.

Which sounds appealing, but for you as an executive, finding the time, and the ability to master this communications channel, can seem daunting.

Social media is confusing and overwhelming, but the value of being on social outweighs the risks. Looking to established leaders and following some proven strategies can make your social foray both easier and more successful.

For a case study in success, just take a look at Virgin’s Richard Branson, and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.  These are just two executives taking the lead, and blazing a path for other CEOs to jump into the active conversation. With 1.73 Billion users, it is hard to continue ignoring social media.

Now that you have some examples to inspire you, let’s de-bunk the four social media myths which may be preventing you from taking the plunge:

1 – I am worried that Social Media will damage my brand and my company. 

We all heard horror stories of careers ruined by the highly visible social media mistakes. So let’s make it simple: don’t say things that you would not share in public. Stay away from the controversial topics (unless you want to get into a public fight), and be authentic. If you are still unsure, have another pair of eyes checking your posts. You can use the variety of scheduling tools to delay your messages for review.

2 - I am a private person. I do not want to share personal information

Here’s the harsh reality:  you are the personal extension of your company.  In our day and age privacy no longer exists, especially so for company executives. Even our kids are now public personas with their photos shared on Facebook by their friends. That said your message should not be all about you. Rather, it is about your brand and the story of your company. Share news and updates that are important and relevant to your customers. Give your customers a glimpse at what your brand culture is.

3. With so many people participating in the conversation, I lose control over messaging. 

Yes, you will see a lot of information coming at you. By truly listening and engaging in the conversation, you will have the opportunity to uncover issues and trends no executive brief can provide. You will also be able to steer the conversation in the direction that you would like it to go. You do not have to be everywhere all the time. Choose 1 or 2 social media platforms and consistently share updates to showcase your industry thought leadership, highlight the latest innovation and social causes.

4. I do not have time to create content for social media.    

As a CEO, you are already creating a lot of content. You produce internal company videos, write shareholder updates, and deliver keynote speeches. If you remove confidential information, you can now share them on social media. A lot more people will read your latest press release if it comes with your personal commentary – After all, people trust personal opinions more than generic brand messages.

As a leader of the company you already have a lot of things on your plate, adding social media to the long “to-do” list is likely the last thing you want to do.

However, just 15 minutes a day of listening to the customer issues and sharing a few updates can go a long way in earning your company a trusted brand position. You can delegate the rest of social media work as long as you trust them to represent your brand professionally on your behalf.

[Image courtesy:Yoel Ben-Avraham]

About the Author

Maria Dykstra (mariad@tredigital.com) is an author, speaker, and technology entrepreneur. She is a Microsoft veteran and a co-founder of Tredigital (http://tredigital.com/), a fast growing digital agency in Seattle. Maria spent 18+ years working with Fortune 100 and emerging brands. She also serves as an advisor and board member for several startups and women leadership organizations.