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Social Media & the CEO April 25, 2013

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Social Media.
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What percentage of senior executives engage in social media? This new infographic created by MBAOnline provides some interesting data and thought-provoking questions.

Here’s one of the interesting insights that caught my eye:

Consumers respond to social CEOs: Half of consumers believe CEOs who don’t use social media will get out of touch with customers.

Profitable company-customer relationships are initiated because of a specific event. The customer has a need; you have a product or service. A transaction is conducted. But, sustaining a long-term relationship with this customer will require more than just a great product or service. Because when products (eventually) become commoditized, the only remaining differentiator will be the relationship — a relationship based largely on the affinity a buyer/decision maker has with his or her vendors and partners. If the customer views that its relationship is based on “vendor A just wants to sell me stuff”, then the relationship is tactical and transactional. That may help a company meet their quarterly numbers, but will the customer feel inclined to do more business with them in the future? Or will it be easier for the customer to invite bids from other vendors?

But, when a company invests in a relationship with their customers, the dialog becomes more strategic and collaborative. Bonds are formed when a sense of “community” is established that extends beyond the sales cycle. Trust is built when company leaders listen earnestly to customer feedback. There is no substitute for being in tune with the customers and their expectations. Indeed, this is why social media has become a relevant part of this interaction and dialog with B2B companies and their customers.

However, jumping on the social media bandwagon without a plan is not a good idea. Social media must be part of the larger integrated marketing strategy. And, a company must have a policy and guidelines for how and when executives participate. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ensure your executive bios are updated and accurate on your company’s website
  • Post a “company page” on Facebook
  • Invite executives to participate and respond to group discussions posted on LinkedIn and other social media sites (but don’t sell!)
  • Create a Twitter account for your company (that the company manages)
  • Create Twitter accounts for your executives (each executive manages their own)
  • Create meaningful and relevant content, and turn each article/whitepaper/executive presentation into 3 short blog posts
  • For every blog post, have the company and executives tweet about it to their followers
  • Appoint someone to listen to all social media channels and ensure “trending now” data is shared internally in a timely fashion
  • When launching new products, addressing problem areas, or planning for the future, acknowledge how social media input is helping guide the organization

Remember that social media does not replace the need for traditional market research, focus groups, and customer advisory boards. It’s one of the tools being used to engage a dialog with your customers and nurture a long-term relationship. And its important for your customers to know that you are listening.

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