Social media is the newest fad, for everything, for everyone. New platforms are being developed to try new and interesting means of communication, but one important factor remains: you can no longer avoid social media. Social media is even crossing over into our work lives, with its use in the professional world becoming more and more apparent. With the SEC’s blessing on using social media for fair disclosure (you can read more here in a blog written by Dennis Walsh explaining the new rules, the VP and director of Social Media for Sharon Merrill - http://blog.investorrelations.com/2013/04/08/sec-gives-social-media-for-ir-its-blessing/), the business community has seen social media has move into the spotlight over the last few weeks. Companies are finding all sorts of different ways to use social media to help develop maintain and strengthen their brand.
One way some companies have been using social media, is to involve their CEO. While it has been found that only 16% of CEOs are currently using social media to connect with their constituents, IBM predicts a 256% increase in the use of social media by CEOs in the next five years (http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/en/c-suite/ceostudy2012/infographic-01.html). Some CEOs, like Peter Aceto (the CEO of ING Direct Canada - https://twitter.com/CEO_INGDIRECT), are ahead of the ball-game and have been using social media for quite some time, and have used social media very well to develop their brand. He uses his Twitter page to connect to users on the daily, frequently replying back to tweets, about all different sorts of topics. Much of the content developed by Aceto is business related, but he makes sure to disseminate pieces that are relatable to the everyday person, such as a tweet posted on April 15, about having the how-to-save-money talk with your teenager. In an article written by Forbes magazine, Aceto is quoted as saying “Being open, sharing more about ourselves, showing a relatable side, are all extremely valuable and can be real competitive advantages,” when commenting on the type of content he tries to deliver through his social media use” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2013/01/30/a-bank-executive-they-call-the-social-media-ceo/). Aceto understands that social media provides transparency for his constituents. His constituents, by reading his page, can see and read about him being a father, posting about guiding your children to save money, can see and read about him being a citizen, his comments on different social events that are occurring and can see and read about him being a professional by reading the business posts. Aceto also warns against some risks that come with social media as well, here.
The risks pointed out by Aceto are real, and with the SEC allowing social media to be used for fair disclosure, they will become even more apparent as the social media trend develops. Companies choosing not to partake in social media may find themselves facing criticism for not extending the lines of communication with their constituents. Aceto also states that if posts are not authentic and real, there is a reputational risk. We all know that lying doesn’t get us very far, ever.
But, with some social media training (and common sense- what is acceptable in public, is acceptable on social media, what is not acceptable in public, is not acceptable on social media), social media will drive business results. There are plenty of different resources that can be used to learn how to use social media effectively. One, a video blog by Tim Howard, the CEO of IRSmarttInc provides guidelines for a personal profiles online and how to use them effectively.
Another great resource is Peter Aceto’s Twitter page, it will show you different examples of topics to use
to interact with the public. Twitter searches will provide great results for social media guidance. Resources are readily available all over the web. It is important to have a full understanding of social media, its risks, benefits and how-to’s before you dive in and use social media. But it is important to learn quickly, smart social media use gives your business a very competitive edge.