Dear CEO,

Increasing revenue, reducing cost and mitigating risk all while delivering outstanding customer experience. Those are the main things that you care about, right? With more than 2.5 billion people using social media around the world, why the heck are you not embracing and owning the adoption and integration of social media at scale into business processes and across your company? And equally importantly, why are you not embracing social media yourself?

I get it. I suspect that you might be concerned about saying the wrong thing online that could ignite a firestorm of antagonists, dissatisfied customers, and disgruntled employees, who could threaten your company’s reputation.

Ten years ago, I would have been way more compassionate and agreed that ‘being social’ might be a little risky. But it’s 2018. Having a digital strategy integrated across multiple channels is the new mandate to neutralize criticism. It’s become critical to transparently tell the company’s story and join the conversation.

But don’t take my word for it. Research shows that employees with social CEOs say their CEOs’ social media presence makes them feel inspired (52%), technologically advanced (46%), and proud (41%). Sociability shows that you, as the CEO, are listening, open to engaging in two-way dialogue with stakeholders, and comfortable with change. And in today’s battle for talent, by the way, social CEOs also help to attract and retain employees.

Still on the fence? At Cisco’s giant customer conference, Cisco Live, in 2014, John Chambers, famously delivered the dire prediction that “Forty percent of businesses in [the] room, unfortunately, will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years,” and added that 70% of companies would “attempt” to go digital but only 30% of those would succeed. He went on to warn companies that they could not “miss a market transition or a business model” or “underestimate your competitor of the future — not your competitor of the past”. He wrapped by saying: “Either we disrupt or we get disrupted”.

Fast forward 4 years, participation is still low, but it is becoming increasingly more important for CEOs, like you, to step out from behind the desk and into the digital spotlights of social media. And for the more regulated industries, please do not use compliance as an excuse. That was so 2014. A truly social CEO is still rare, but there are a few leaders out there demonstrating what it looks like and how it benefits their personal and professional brands. As someone who has worked 1-on-1 with Fortune 500 CEOs, here is my advice.

Be vulnerable and get back to learning. Take the time to learn how social media can be used to create a customer-first company. What does that mean?

  1. Creating an effective executive LinkedIn profile.
  2. Controlling your privacy & confidentiality.
  3. Efficiently connecting with the people that matter.
  4. Showing your company as innovative by having social engaged leaders.
  5. Offering an authentic, human face to your company.
  6. Being a voice of your industry and building thought leadership.
  7. Connecting with your customers.
  8. Empowering your sales and customer organizations to leverage your network effectively and professionally.
  9. Executive prospecting.
  10. Staying on top of the leading ideas in your industry.
  11. Hiring the best talent in the world.
  12. Keeping tabs on the competition.

What then? Empower your sales and marketing organizations. I repeat. Empower them. They have the keys to the future success of your company. Give them the resources they need to ‘be social’ rather than ‘do social’. With the right support from you, they have the keys to help ensure your company remains relevant by becoming truly customer first.

Take control today.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Swift

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