WARNING: What you’re about to read might sound like heresy coming from someone like me, who others have described as a “social media expert”: As a CEO or business leader, don’t get too sucked into or carried away by social media.
To explain what I mean, first let me set the record straight: Though others may call me a social media expert, I have never labeled myself as such. It is because of what my company does – I started working in online marketing back in 1998 as founder/CEO of an agency, Web Ad.vantage, which I still own and operate – that I am even involved in “social media” as we know it today. And yes, somewhere along the way I also wrote a book on social media subject matter.
Ironically, from day one, I’ve never espoused that one single online tactic, let alone online all by itself, should be the be-all/end-all of a company’s marketing strategy. I believe in an integrated approach – one that involves both online and offline marketing, advertising, public relations, and business development. With this in mind, any marketing tactic just becomes another tool in the toolset, all given fair consideration.
When I consider my own social media activities, I first try to adhere to our own agency’s social media strategy (I am my own client after all), but I also give myself permission to not always be able to accomplish these goals on a day-to-day basis.
As the company leader, I see my responsibilities in this order: #1 – To my employees; #2 – To our clients. Our business development and marketing efforts, of which social media is a part, fall below these two.
In the course of any given day, my best intentions for tweeting, checking all my LinkedIn connections, creating content, or conducting a podcast interview may fall by the wayside, usurped by something more important in running my company. (And don’t get me started about generating more videos, which is still on my wish list.)
Is my attitude setting me up for a competitive disadvantage? I don’t think so. Am I being realistic and managing my time wisely? I’d like to think so. Do I feel disappointed or guilty if days go by and I haven’t demonstrated any social media activity? Truthfully, yes, but I get over that pretty quickly.
What I am reminded of and why I do have conviction in social media is that, as the business owner, I am most likely to have success in selling for my company (Brad Farris has empirical data on this), and putting my personal brand out there is a big part of that sales process. So I happily “bear the burden” of representing my company by “being out there,” but I also try to put things into perspective. In order to be successful, I have to stay focused on my priorities.
Author of the book Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day, Hollis Thomases is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing and analysis.