Deep Dive: Working with the Social CEO

Zachary Chastain
Written by Zachary Chastain  ()
on July 27, 2018 ·

Welcome back to our Content Marketing Deep Dive series, where we analyze successful brands that consistently produce great content marketing. 

Today, we're looking at some of the deeper lessons that we've uncovered after analyzing our first 4 brands, and speaking in depth with their digital marketing teams.

 

A common theme in the brands we've looked at for our Content Marketing Deep Dive Series so far has been brands with a CEO who isn't afraid of being the public face of the brand, or engaging in social, video, and other mediums and channels.

The social CEO is rare, and a lot of the information that's currently out there about CEOs and social media is focused on how to get your CEO to embrace social media at all (61% of CEOs don't have any social media presence at all), how to get your social ad budget approved, or how to get your CEO on board to start using social media marketing for your brand.

We're diving into unexplored territory, to talk about how to work with the social CEO. I've put together a profile of the social CEO, along with some of the most common issues I've noticed these brands seem to have with coordinating with their social CEOs, and how to solve them.   

Who is the Social CEO?

"The social CEO knows that he doesn't just have to listen to the board, he also needs to hear and act on the input from his employees and his customers."

The social CEO isn't afraid of actively being the face of the brand, not only in public or at shareholder meetings, but also on social media. 

The social CEO engages directly with their brand's online customer community, replying to customer service issues, compliments from happy customers, and also through other mediums like video and even live streaming.

What else do we know about the social CEO?
  1. She understands the value of social, both for her business and her own brand.
  2. The social CEO injects humor into the brand voice, like Dave Munson's video on How to Knockoff a Saddleback Leather Bag.
  3. He puts up fewer walls than the average CEO. You might be able to track down most CEO's email addresses online with a bit of work, but you may find the social CEO's personal cell phone number on the company website's contact us page.
  4. The social CEO is very personally involved in the success of their business. They take their role seriously and they're willing to try new things if it will help them connect with customers and create a better, more memorable experience.
  5. She has a genuine interest in taking a more active role in the brand's social media efforts. Nobody is pressuring her to get involved, nor is she pawning off the responsibility on an employee and agency who blogs or responds in her name.

This all boils down to one important point. The social CEO knows that he doesn't just have to listen to the board, he also needs to hear and act on the input from his employees and his customers.

 Working with the Social CEO
Scott Jordan, CEO of SCOTTeVEST is the epitome of the social CEO.

Image: Scottevest

 

What Are The CHALLENGES of Working with the Social CEO?

The benefits of working with the social CEO are clear, but it's not all sunshine and roses 24/7. Like everything else, the social CEO comes with their own set of challenges that you'll either have to solve or learn to work with. 

  1. Just because the social CEO uses and understands social media channels doesn't mean that he understands the realities of marketing on those same channels. They sometimes expect results more quickly than is realistic, and can get frustrated when it takes longer than they expected. You can see this in action in SCOTTeVEST CEO Scott Jordan's live streams, where he seems to get frustrated that he doesn't have a larger live audience yet. 
  2. While the social CEO is more open-minded and social media savvy than your average CEO, it doesn't mean that she'll accept a new, meaningful marketing trend with open arms. Gavin Griffin, Social Media implementer at SCOTTeVEST mentions that Scott Jordan was skeptical of how Snapchat would fit into his own brand related social media use, but that he did eventually embrace the platform.
  3. Transparency is important to the social CEO. Whether we're talking about Dave Munson's "Not Dead Yet Show" featuring stories from his family leaving San Antonio to live in safari tents in Africa, Scott Jordan live streaming meetings with his social team, or John Legere tweeting about his multiple pairs of pink "T-Mobile CEO" shoes, transparency is a common theme for the social CEO, and is in sharp contrast to the average CEO. It bears repeating that 61% of CEOs have no social media presence at all, and many CEOs report that they see social media as a distraction or a liability. This transparency isn't a problem, it's great actually, but it does mean that you'll have to adjust to being as transparent and being okay with that transparency from others in the organization. 

 

Working with the Social CEOIt doesn't get much more transparent than T-Mobile CEO John Legere sharing his pink Nike's.

IMAGE: John Legere's Twitter
  

How Do You Solve the Challenges of Working with a Social CEO?

Now that we know what the major challenges of working with the social CEO are, what can we do to solve them? Some of these solutions involve how you pitch ideas, some involve reframing your CEOs views, and some are changes that you might have to make to your own perceptions.

  1. Dealing with a social CEO who wanted results yesterday is all about setting expectations. You don't want to find yourself in 3 weeks explaining why your CEO doesn't have 30,000 views on every video she creates. You instead want her to know well in advance how long it will be before she can expect to start seeing results, just what those early results will look like, and how they will likely compare with results a year from now. Setting goals and tracking them against benchmarks, along with setting early expectations, can go a long way towards solving this problem. By tracking your goals and establishing benchmarks along the way you can also project whether you are likely to meet your goals and you'll be able to keep those expectations in perspective for you and your CEO from the time you start using a new platform until you've reached your first major milestone, and beyond.
  2. You can overcome resistance to change, new technologies, and new platforms by putting in the effort ahead of time to be ready to explain why this choice is right for your social CEO and how it will fit into and strengthen his current social strategy. Gavin mentions that the keys to getting Scott Jordan to buy into Snapchat were demonstrating that his most valued peers were already active there, that a new audience that was worth pursuing was engaging on the platform, and that the platform had wide adoption as well, providing not only a new audience, but significant exposure.
  3. As I mentioned above, transparency isn't a problem, but it probably will be an adjustment for you. Most of us don't feel like we're putting on a live streamed public performance when we have our weekly team meetings. In the corporate world people are used to office politics, protecting egos, and avoiding stepping on toes. In fact, according to Josh Bernoff's blog Without Bullshit, 25% of people who write for a living say that they're afraid that taking a clear stand in their business related writing will hurt them. Many in the corporate world would love to have transparency, but fear it. If your CEO truly values transparency then it is going to become part of the DNA of your organization, so you'll need to be comfortable with working in a way that is transparent to your team, the rest of the company, your leadership, and even to the public. 

Working with the Social CEO

Learn to embrace the idea that you'll be working in the open.

Image: Bigstock
 

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR YOUR BRAND

  1. Be prepared to sell new ideas - Don't expect your social CEO to jump on every new idea and platform with both feet. Make sure you understand which ideas and platforms are worth your brand's time, and then be sure that you're ready to explain that to your CEO in a compelling way.
  2.  Set expectations - Avoid selling ideas without setting expectations. It's great that you've convinced your CEO that she should be using Snapchat and Instagram, but make sure that you're familiar with how long it will be before she begins seeing results, and that you make her aware too.
  3. Embrace transparency - Some people thrive in transparency, some people can hardly stand to have someone even looking over their shoulder while they work. No matter which camp you fall into, you should accept that one of the benefits of working with the social CEO is a transparent work life, even if that's a challenge for you. Don't fight it, accept it and embrace it. You'll be a better team and a better organization for it.

 

Want to learn more about how to consistently create high quality content? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing in 2016 and download our ebook on How to Write Great Blog Posts

 

 

Topics: Social Strategy and Tactics

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