Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Companies whose leaders engage in social media are further ahead
Have you heard the expression TMI (Too Much Information)? We’ve all known individuals who share far too much.

But for a business? Here’s an area where entrepreneurs and employees may be miles ahead of the boss. The data is in, and it’s extremely compelling: For businesses, the willingness to share and engage through social media and especially, the willingness of top management to engage–is a definite plus.

Several news reports show that social media is vital for business, and its role is only increasing.

Yet among Fortune 500 CEOs, Josh notes, only 7.6 percent are present on Facebook, only 4 percent use Twitter, and less than 1 percent use Google Plus. LinkedIn is the only social network where CEOs are slightly ahead of the general populace, the report says: Twenty-six percent of CEOs surveyed use LinkedIn, compared to 20.15% of the population at large.
Why? CEOs and especially large company CEOs–are finally realizing what progressive companies and their customers already know–that using social technologies to engage with customers, suppliers and even their own employees enables organizations to be more adaptive and agile.

This is a principle we take to heart at our own company, Fishbowl. With my paired leadership partner, Mary Michelle Scott, we try to operate like an open book.

We maintain a Facebook group for our inventory control customers where they can interface directly with our engineers. Our customers are free to send praise, complaints, ideas and requests for new features in a forum the entire world can see. We also make it a practice to share our competitors’ information freely and to praise their successes as well as our own. It takes courage to share not only the good news but also the experiences for learning, which are not always pleasant.

It is interesting to note that some companies who are “cut-throat competitive” will generally fare poorly in social media, but it’s an area where companies who are collaborative and cooperative can thrive and grow their businesses.

In many respects, social media is the “universal university” for us all. We can teach and learn from one another. We can also improve from others, through comments, feedback and spirited dialogues, even in the situations where we may not agree.

As a leader, I look at the Return On Investment (ROI) for social media as a means to obtain contacts that would cost far more money (and perhaps be far less engaged) if we were trying to simply purchase all of our leads through PPC ads.

As the two leaders of our company, we put ourselves out individually in as many public forums as possible as well. As an example of our personal commitments to social media, here’s a link to our company leadership page: www.fishbowlinventory.com/vip. Feel free to use any of the ideas you like as a template for a social media page of your own.

If we haven’t convinced you yet, consider these two results from the BRANDFog 2012 CEO Survey as the final clincher: More than 82% of respondents are likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and team engage in social media. And an amazing 77% of respondents are likely or much more willing to buy from a company whose mission and values are defined through their leaderships’ involvement in social media.