A CEO's guide to social media

Donald Trump is not an appropriate role model.

by Natasha Abramson
Last Updated: 11 Feb 2020

There have been countless scandals on social media, with Trump and his insulting tweets, CEOs and politicians ‘mis-speaking’ then being forced to make grovelling apologies, and even people losing their jobs after an ill-advised rant. 

The more traditionally-minded among us may wonder whether this particular minefield is worth crossing. 

Fortunately, there are ways of getting your message across on social media without courting disaster.

Don’t panic:

Social media is increasingly used by consumers and employees as an insight into a company, and allows businesses a reach they would struggle to get through traditional media, so don’t dismiss it as a flippant millennial/Gen Z fad.

But it is possible to over-estimate its importance. “Social media isn’t essential at all, at least as it pertains to my literal position. My job does not circle around social media. I think it is good as an addition,” explains Josh Wilson, CEO and MD of Wilson Worldwide Productions. 

Remember, social is not a broadcast medium:

“Listen - start with social listening and engaging, I can’t stress that enough,” recommends Antonia Taylor, founder of Antonia Taylor PR. Be consistent and show your personality and views in creative ways. From excited chatter on your way to an event in the back of a car to honesty about the lows as well as the highs of running a business, that's the kind of sharing people want to see. 

Be authentic:

“I think people are very turned off these days by anything that smells inauthentic,” says Matt Clifford, co-founder and CEO of Entrepreneur First. “I think you should only be really thinking of using social media if it comes naturally and it comes from an authentic set of interests or concerns that just happened to align with the business.” 

But not too authentic:

“I can't just do whatever I want - I understand that there can be repercussions. I can't just post whatever I want either. There are certain facets of myself I have to hide or tone down,” says Wilson, who advises using different platforms for different types of post. “On Instagram, I'll be much more myself. People will see a version of me that is much more fun. I shared my trip to Thailand in the winter. But on Facebook, I'll be much more toned down.”

If in doubt, hire a ringer: 

“A drawback about social media is that mistakes are incredibly costly,” says Wilson, so make sure you have someone who understands your audience on social and the potential ramifications of a post. If your impromptu utterances “can cause harm, or get you in trouble or denigrate the company in any way” then having someone the CEO “can get advice from is incredibly important.”

Image credit: NurPhoto / Contributor via Getty Images

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