SocialHow to Leverage the Social CEO

How to Leverage the Social CEO

In today's social economy, visible storytelling sells, and who better to tell your story than the person responsible for leading the charge? But how do you convince your CEO to drop the hate and get on the social media soapbox? Here are five ways.

social-media-chartHave you read the latest survey making the rounds? The one from KRC Research and Weber Shandwick that proves what everyone but your CEO already knows? If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a read, outlining why your CEO should be on social media and what you’re missing if he or she isn’t using it.

Read it. And then maybe forward it to your boss.

The study of 630 executives in 10 markets discovered the majority of executives want their CEO to be utilizing social channels. According to the results, 76 percent of executives believe it is a good idea for CEOs to be social and 69 percent of executives who have social CEOs would like to see them participate even more frequently!

With the number of CEOs participating in social projected to increase 50 percent over the next five years, it seems the days of the elusive CEO hiding in the boardroom are over. In today’s social economy, visible storytelling sells, and who better to tell your story than the person responsible for leading the charge?

Social CEOs have been shown to:

  • Improve the company reputation.
  • Demonstrate the brand’s innovation.
  • Humanize the company.
  • Increase business results.
  • Set a social example for employees.

But you, the savvy marketing manager, probably already knew all of that. How do you convince your CEO to drop the hate and get on the social media soapbox?

1. Educate Them

For your CEO to care about social media he or she needs to understand why they should care. That it isn’t enough the business has made a social investment they, personally, need to make an investment as well. It may take some educating before your CEO is open to the idea of blogging, shooting video or even creating that Twitter account you keep mentioning during internal staff meetings, but they’ll get there.

Help get them on the same page by providing information about the benefits of being a social CEO. Pull research data like the survey mentioned above from Weber Shandwick or BrandFrog to illustrate the power of having a sociable CEO and the long list of benefits it brings to the company.

Pull together case studies that look at how social CEOs have increased the company’s bottom line and brand awareness by being involved. Putting a face to this social media CEO “thing” and tying it back to clear ROI is how you’re going to persuade an otherwise antisocial CEO to start getting involved.

2. Introduce the Tools

You can help your CEO feel more empowered and in control of his or her social media presence by narrowing down the available platform choices. There’s no need to overwhelm them by making them feel they need to be everywhere Knowem is.

Start small, start where your CEO will be most comfortable and focus on the sites that will give the company the most bang for its buck, whether it’s a branded account on Twitter or a new channel on YouTube.

Find the medium your CEO will feel most comfortable using for expression and updates.

3. Address Fears

Ask 10 CEOs why they haven’t gotten involved in social media and you may get exactly that many answers:

  • They’re afraid of negative feedback.
  • They have nothing to say.
  • They may say the wrong thing.
  • They don’t have time.
  • They don’t know how to start or what sites to use.
  • They don’t understand it.
  • They simply don’t want to!

Instead of discounting these fears, address them! Identify the reasons and the fears associated for not getting involved and break them down.

  • For the CEO with nothing to say, work with them to create a strategy (yes, you do need a social media strategy for your brand) so they have talking points broken out and a calendar to clearly follow. Adding structure and a schedule to social media will make it more manageable. You wouldn’t throw your child into the pool without teaching him to swim. Same concept.
  • For the CEO who doesn’t have time, introduce him or her to social media management tools like Buffer or Raven Tools that they can use to help schedule and monitor updates. Let your CEO know he or she doesn’t have to be on Twitter all day in order to establish a true presence. Take off some of the always-on pressure.
  • For the CEO afraid of saying the wrong thing, lean again on that social media strategy to help identify topics worth discussing, as well as how to handle touchy situations that may arise. By giving them guidelines to follow for how they should be engaging, you help take the guesswork out of it.

4. Provide a Game Plan & Check In

Once you’ve gotten buy in and your CEO is onboard, create a plan for the next three months, outlining their presence and their activity.

If they’re going to be blogging, what are the topics they’ll be covering? When do they need post drafts due? When will they be published?

If your CEO is about to get active on Twitter, help them get the account created – give them a fresh background and profile image – and show them who they should be following, how to find other people to follow, how to use Twitter search and other tools, and help them get their feet wet so they feel confident using the platform.

If your CEO is going to create video blogs, create your recording schedule and introduce him or her to the tools that will be used.

Once the plan has been set into motion, monitor it. Don’t leave your CEO out to dry, all awkward and floppy. Check in on a regular basis. Offer feedback and make sure he or she is sticking to the plan you laid out. If they seem to be struggling, hop in and offer support and guidance. Lead the way.

5. Map Successes

Celebrate wins, no matter how small. Offer high-fives for great updates or blog posts that gain legs and earn traction. By highlighting and congratulating his or her successes, you’ll make your CEO more invested in their social media use.


Encourage your CEO to become your chief storyteller by educating them about the important of social on your business, addressing fears and plotting a course of social media action. By doing so you’ll not only advance the company vision, but you’ll strengthen the company as a whole.


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