Five Ways to Get Your CEO to Embrace Social Engagement

By: Guest | April 26, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is written by Jeff Hunt

We just conducted a study which found companies who fully embrace social engagement have four times more business success than less-engaged companies.

Four times.

The study also found, in the most socially engaged companies, the chief executive officer and other C-suite executives are the vital advocates for change to make social engagement possible – and profitable.

But how do you help a CEO who doesn’t “get” social engagement get it?

The many “switched on” leaders we’ve worked with in the past few years typically experience an epiphany moment – a moment when they finally “get” the value of having a presence on Facebook or Twitter or just in paying attention to what’s being said about them online. It’s usually a result of a mix of convincing data combined with an emotional stimulus rooted in either hope or fear.

We’ve found five gateways that lead to CEO epiphany moments:

  1. Pressure from the board or from an investment bank. The CEO of one of our large multinational clients got the message from a digital media research analyst at his investment bank. Today, his company is a recognized leader in social engagement.
  2. Pressure from customers. Some CEOs observe customers relying on social media to drive purchase decisions or simply receive frank feedback from customers to “get onboard and online.”
  3. The ROI equation. Executives who’ve expressed long-felt frustrations with measuring the value of marketing and public relations see that engaging with customers online is faster and easier to measure. The decline of traditional media plays into this equation.
  4. Visits to peer organizations. When executives see social leaders investing budget and resources in Social Media Centers of Excellence, it’s evident some companies treat social engagement differently. Those who commit to organizational transformation are the ones experiencing four times greater business impact.
  5. Fear of the risk of NOT getting involved. CEOs who see high-profile news stories about companies who ignore or mismanage online customer conversations about their brand realize the jeopardy of waiting.

So, gather the right data and anecdotal stories and start leading your CEO in the direction of these gateways until he or she gets it. And consider starting with the impact social engagement can have on internal communications. All CEOs need employees to understand and act upon their visions. Leverage social channels for internal comms to show how it can work.

What was your CEO’s epiphany moment? What did you do to convince him or her?

PulsePoint Group will present findings from the study, “Who You Need On Your Side to Build Social Engagement: The Value of the CEO,” in a webinar Thursday, May 3, 2102.

Jeff Hunt is a partner and co-founder of PulsePoint Group, a management and digital consulting firm. He specializes in boardroom services including crisis management and preparedness; CEO and CFO communications; branding, positioning, reputation management and social media. He blogs at Points of View. You can also find him on Twitter @jeffroberthunt or follow his company on Facebook and Twitter.