Sam Elam & Dionne Lew discuss how
to engage C-suite executives in
social media – Interview Transcript
Sam:- Social media used to be called new media and doesn’t that sound just so silly these days because it’s such an important part of our corporate communications and everything we do in business.
I have with me today Dionne Lew, she’s the CEO of the Social Executive, and we’re going to talk to her about exactly where Social Media fits today in the communications strategy.
Dionne:- Hi Sam.
Sam:- So where does Social Media fit in corporate communications these days?
Dionne:- Well it’s absolutely indispensable to corporate communications and far more broadly to business. That’s one of the reasons it’s so critical for C-suites and for CEO’s to understand the importance of Social Media.
It’s an integral part for example of sales channels, marketing channels, communications channels, but again a lot deeper from a business perspective.
Sam:- And I think we’ve seen it used very well and it’s very well accepted as a marketing tool, a marketing communications tool, but if we go back to a thought leadership strategy for C-suite senior executives.
Where does it fit for thought leadership strategies?
Dionne:- It’s absolutely essential.
Who we are in today’s world, whether or not we like that, is in part determined by our digital footprint. And that’s determined by the online algorithms which are in part made up by Social Media.
If you’re a thought leader you have an opinion which you want to express.
What you do on Social Media is of course you get that global reach, and it’s independent of time, somebody can read what you’re saying and thinking at 3am in the morning and then share that with people who will be interested in the message.
That goes to defining who you are, in real life.
Sam:- And one of the benefits to the company and to the individual executive when they are involved in Social Media as an individual.
Dionne:- Well they’re just so many benefits, we’re in an era of joint professional and personal branding. People in Social Media networks expect to find you there as a human being, as a person, talking in an authentic voice.
Not as the kind of spokesperson of the organisation such as in the past.
When you look at companies who are doing really well like McKinsey, what you’ll see is they have a corporate brand, but they also have all of their people branded as McKinsey and talking across those networks.
So it creates synergy, it gives it a human element and again you’ve got that global reach.
Sam:- Many of the executives who are not used to using Social Media may not have grown up with Social Media.
Where can they start, how is it simple, because as communications people, often we find it hard to get them engaged and actually writing for things and even seeing the value? Where can we start them?
Dionne:- Well first of all I think there’s a mindset issue and I think that has to be tackled first. There are a lot of myths around Social Media and those are not born out in reality. Some of those key myths are
Social Media is a fad - it’s not it’s 12 years old
1. The idea that it’s for posting photos of what you ate for lunch. Again there are a lot of photos of lunch on Social Media, but to put that in context, it’s like going to a business meeting, having a 4 hour meeting and somebody brings in a tray of sandwiches, and you say, ‘gosh I love the chicken sandwiches.’
Totally appropriate, totally human and it has a context. So that’s important because until social executives, until executives reconsider their views on it, it’s not going to get much traction.
2. The other thing is, there is now so much evidence to show that companies that are digitally mature outperform those that aren’t, to as much as 26%. And all the big consultancies like Boston Global for example, are telling us Social Media will be worth 4.2 trillion by 2016.
What companies need to guard against is, if you’re not there can become irrelevant. If you are there and engaging well, it’s a competitive advantage.
Sam:- And what about the aspect of executives and their careers. How important is social for careers of executives on the rise?
Dionne:- Absolutely essential, because who we is in part defined by our digital footprint. You need for example as an executive to have a strong presence on LinkedIn. Now that doesn’t mean just signing up, because signing up to a social platform and then not using it is a bit like going to a business luncheon standing in the corner.
When you’re there, you’ve got to do something, you’ve got to share content, you’ve got to join groups. Undoubtedly you can’t be a social executive in tomorrow’s world as well as today’s without having a strong digital presence.
Sam:- And LinkedIn you’re talking about, and that seems to becoming a very powerful tool for social thought leaders. How is it trending, what’s happening with LinkedIn?
Dionne:- Well, there are 250 million people around the world who are on LinkedIn, in 200 countries. It’s the go to place for professionals. In Australia there are more than 6 million professionals on LinkedIn now. If you think about that for our population, that’s enormous penetration, that’s 30%.
So it’s absolutely integral to being a professional and having a professional presence. LinkedIn again gives you the opportunity to showcase your expertise. You can for example embed your slideshow presentations into your LinkedIn profile, which means you can shift people to other parts of the Social Media ecosystem, where they can read and understand your message. So LinkedIn is a very important professional platform. It’s not the only one, but it’s definitely the one that professionals are most comfortable and familiar with.
Sam:- And finally, what would be your best tip or couple of tips on how to bring the C-suite executives over to this thinking, even to start them on LinkedIn? What would you do?
Dionne:- Well there are some important things to say that a lot of C-suites aren’t aware of, they’ve been changes in legislation in Australia and other parts of the world because, Social Media is so powerful that it can for example directly impact the market.
So for listed companies and even under ACCC guidance, it is actually a C-suite responsibility to ensure that the proper monitoring and governance is in place.
C-suites need to start to do Social Media. It’s the one area you learn by doing rather than just hearing about it, because when you use Social Media the algorithms tend to work out very quickly, who you may know and who shares your interests and send up suggestions, and that act of actually experiencing it I think is the most powerful way to convince C-suites of its utility.
Sam:- That’s all really terrific information. Thank you for your time today Dionne.
Dionne:- Pleasure Sam.