Social Media: Good or Bad For Company Execs?
Twitter to promote his support of gay marriage. His tweet went viral, being retweeted 50,000 times within the span of eight hours.
Not all tweets are created equal, however. And not all go viral, or are received as positively as the president’s was.
For executives at high-profile companies, the use of social media can be a double-edged sword.
The right tweet or Facebook post can drive attention to a company and its products, increasing brand awareness and loyalty and generating an overall positive social media experience. The wrong tweet can take business in a total opposite direction, damage the brand and sully the executive’s reputation as a true adopter of social media.
Among Fortune 500 companies, 70 percent of the CEOs running those companies are not engaging via social media, according to a recent report by CEO.com and analytics company, Domo. Of the CEOs who are using social media, four percent are engaged on Twitter and eight percent are using Facebook.
Comments shared via social media are often spontaneous and sometimes charged with emotion, neither of which are preferred ingredients for CEOs who must pay attention to how their company’s messaging aligns with business and overall communications strategy.
Back to our example – while President Obama’s tweet was widely accepted and applauded, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s comments about gay marriage during an interview with a reporter in July were widely condemned over social media. While Cathy didn’t turn to Twitter or Facebook to share his stance, those were the venues that continued to draw negative media scrutiny to Cathy and his fast-food chain. No matter which side of the argument people fall in line with, a web search for Chick-fil-A, is sure to link you back to Cathy’s controversial comments and the associated social media reactions.
Companies whose executives have a social media presence must pay keen attention to what those executives will post as well as any conversations that may result from an executive’s comments. What is true for media training and nothing ever being “off the record,” is true for social media. All companies would be wise to set parameters for what can and cannot be made public.
Are your company’s executives using social media? What are they saying? What’s your policy to how they should and should not interact with their audiences?