A quick social media survival guide … for your boss

Quick poll: How many people do you know who aren’t on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook? With social networks closing in on 3 billion users, social media has become a daily habit for almost everyone.

Except, of course, for CEOs. 61% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence whatsoever. They’re not posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other networks. They don’t even have a profile.

There’s something wrong with that picture. As a CEO myself of a company that serves more than 800 of the Fortune 1000, I know for a fact that social media is a powerful way to stay connected with customers, employees, investors, competitors and stakeholders.

For a long time, though, I couldn’t convince my peers. Then, Trump happened. Thanks to one Twitter account, CEOs started to get the power of social media … and get nervous. All sorts of companies were finding themselves in Trump’s Twitter crosshairs: GM, Lockheed Martin, CNN, Macy’s, Nordstrom … to name a few.

And many of them had no idea how to respond. Leaders, especially, were silent on social media. They didn’t know what to say or how to say it. They didn’t even have a Twitter account.

So I decided to do something. Using what I’ve learned running the most widely used social relationship platform, as well as managing my own accounts with millions of followers, I put together a survival guide for leaders.

It’s called The 4 Billion Dollar Tweet. The title is a reference to what happened after Lockheed Martin was singled out by Trump in a Tweet about cost overruns. The defense contractor was caught flat-footed — its leaders absent on social media — as its stock plunged 5%, or around $4 billion, in a single day.

Guidelines for savvy social leaders

So what’s the key for leaders hoping to survive (and even thrive) on social media in the Trump era? In a nutshell, it comes down to readiness.

  • The best social leaders — everyone from Virgin’s Richard Branson to T-Mobile’s John Legere — know the voice they want to project, the message they want to send and the most effective networks to leverage. Their efforts are deliberate, sustained and strategic.
  • Effective social leaders generally have a support team behind them and know how to align their own channels with company efforts. They find ways to lend a human touch, while delegating skillfully and not getting in the weeds.
  • Social CEOs know how to turn to their platforms regularly to listen, learn and share. They understand the medium, and are able to react nimbly to capitalize on opportunities and avert crisis.

The payoff? Social leaders are using their accounts to enable sales teams and drive revenue, augment traditional PR and reach a global audience, elevate office culture, humanize their companies and, in no small way, steer the direction of their industries. For them, social media isn’t a vanity play or a place to “share breakfast photos.” It’s the ultimate growth and productivity hack: a channel where a modest investment of time and resources yields outsized returns.

A quick read for busy bosses

I realize that lots of people on the front lines at companies already get this and get social media. But this little guide is meant to help you explain social to all those managers, directors, VPs and CEOs who still don’t get it — but who desperately need to.

A lot like a Tweet, the book itself is short and sweet — something a boss can flip through in 30 minutes between meetings. When they’re done, they’ll know exactly why they need to be on social media and how to get started.

You may never have to respond to a Tweet straight from Donald Trump. But social media is emerging as the de facto means of engaging customers throughout the buying cycle, as well as employees and most everyone of consequence to your business.

Interested in getting a copy of The 4 Billion Dollar Tweet (or giving one to a boss)? You can order from Amazon here.