With social media becoming a staple in today’s society, people are checking Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn constantly. People are starting to turn to Twitter for news updates, rather than waiting for the 6:00 p.m. news. In an age where people are looking for instantaneous connections to the people and the businesses surrounding them, social media is no longer just for personal use. Today, company executives can – and should! – use social media as a professional method to reach out to their customer base.
A survey done by the consulting firm BRANDfog stated that 77 percent of respondents are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media. But a recent IBM CEO study found that only 16 percent of chief executives are using social media to interact with customers. With customers placing this much stake in the use of social media, why are executives not taking advantage?
The first step is to embrace social media as an important tool. Many CEOS are reluctant, but in today’s society, there is a growing relationship between companies and consumers. Because social media is so intertwined in people’s lives, executives who avoid these mediums are turning their backs on inherently public arenas.
CEOs can use social media to advertise their expertise and connect with their customer base in new ways. Executives can give customers a “behind the scenes” look at the business, as well as personally talk with customers. CEOS can use social media to:
- Give consumers a window into their world by sharing bits about their day-to-day life. By sharing a thought or something funny that has happened during the day, executives become more human to their customer base.
- Share stories about consumers who have been helped or otherwise been impacted by their product or service. Providing these stories is free endorsement for your products and your company. Real people love to hear what other real people are saying about the products and services they purchase.
- Embrace a customer service role by answering questions and fielding complaints. People share their thoughts and feelings through their tweets and Facebook status updates. Look at what people are saying about your product and start a dialogue. If people are tweeting about something that makes them unhappy, try to find a solution. If people are sharing their joy about your product, re-tweet it for other potential customers to see.
- Relay information about product developments, studies, breakthroughs, key partnerships and other events on the horizon. Make sure customers know about upcoming details and product releases by reminding them through your social media accounts. This increases public excitement for your debuts, while also showing customers that you’re constantly keeping them in mind as you develop new products.
- Use social media to analyze trends. Executives can also use the information accessible through social media trends to find critical information on customer support, market research and recruiting.
When embracing social media, it’s crucial for executives to know that it’s not vital to your business to become a social media star or to share intimate details about your life. Embrace a “Miranda Rights” approach: Everything you say can and will be held against you, at least in a court of public opinion. Competitors, angry customers and journalists will often pounce on any social media misstep. In order to avoiding a branding catastrophe, make sure you consciously would put your name – and your company’s name – behind everything you post.
There are certainly risks associated with instantaneous communication, but the benefits are increasingly difficult to ignore: CEOs can use social media as avenues for transparency, credibility and authenticity. These values are key pillars to running a successful business in today’s market. Besides, if you don’t start the conversation about your company online, you can be sure someone else will.