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Gini Dietrich

The Dos and Don’ts of Executive Social Media

By: Gini Dietrich | June 2, 2011 | 
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It’s Facebook question of the week time (clap, clap, clap)! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a real video question and I have a special treat for you.

We’re going to have a lesson in how to say my name.

That’s right…you’re going to learn how to say my name!

Well, I also sing a song. On video. I’m pretty sure it can be missed so you can fast forward to :40.

And now on with the show (if you can’t see the video in your feed, click here and it’ll magically appear)!

Jennifer Dooley asks,

I’m wondering if you could share your big DOs and DON’Ts for executives (not sure my CEO needs a blog). Also, do you have any good, bad, and the ugly in terms of executive social media examples you might be willing to share? I know it’s asking a lot, but if you can share, I’d be sooo happy!

I answer the first part of the question in the video and also open it up to you to answer.

And, I promised to provide some links to the good, bad, and the ugly in terms of executive social media examples.

The Good: I am a big fan of what Tony Hsieh did with Twitter in 2008, as Zappos built their brand and prepped for the Amazon acquisition. There are some examples of other good use by executives in this blog post by Beth Kanter.

The Bad: While it’s not an executive, exactly, I think the way the BP executives handled the entire oil spill, from their CEO saying he just wanted to go back to normal and get back on his yacht to the fake BP news Twitter account was poorly managed.

The Ugly: Kenneth Cole, hands down, gets this award from me. He fell flat on his face when he used the uprising in Egypt to promote his spring collection. Ugly, ugly news.

Now I leave it to you. What are the dos and don’ts for executives on social media? And what are some examples you can cite?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

91 comments
NancyM.
NancyM.

The good: Answering customers inquiries on twitter and hosting events on facebook, then posting pictures later in a way that makes people relate to the brand in a personal way.

The bad: Businesses that post nothing except blog links. advertisement links or marketing material.

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

I'll have to watch the video later, as it's 5:40AM and my VSO is still asleep. I'd like to add something for Jennifer.

Back in 2006, one of my roles was editing and posting internal executive blogs. I'm going to break this experience down into the categories you mentioned.

THE GOOD: Hey, executives were trying for transparency. In fact, this was my introduction to the cult of this word.

THE BAD: Comments. Everyone, everyone was freaked out about comments. Because, did we allow them to be anonymous or not? I argued fiercely for anonymous comments. The comments that had names on them were ass-kissing comments...no conversation was started....nothing. Anonymous comments were the only dissent we ever got - and usually it was "why the hell are you cutting my job?" or "you're a crap leader." Nothing in the middle! It was a culture not ready for blogs, I don't think, and in retrospect I'd say my team did not properly prepare the executives to nurture and respond to comments. Oh, and I'd also add that the "transparency" was just public posturing.

THE UGLY: One leader in particular got really defensive about the anonymous comments and used his blog as a platform to call them cowards. I was furious. First off, it irritates me when people in positions of power fail to understand that they are in positions of power - in fact, I stop reading popular blogs when the blogger whines about anonymous comments that attack him/her. That's the price of doing business, sunshine, shut up.The more powerful you become, the more you are surrounded by sycophants, because people are either afraid of what happens when they disagree, or on their own quest for power. DUH. My personal prejudices aside, all this did was perpetuate the very culture he was attacking. The ass-kisser comments were all "oh my anonymous commenters are terrible you are so right!." Gross. And the anonymous commenters just got more fuel for their fire.

In short, be ready for comments.

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

Definitely bookmarking this video, just in case I decide to apply for an internship with you in the future...I'll either start singing that song in the interview if I get one, or just go GIN, GIN GIN GIN! in my head.

On that note, I love the good, the bad, and the ugly. What Kenneth Cole did was absolutely ridiculous and senseless. How did anyone think that was a good idea, ever? Maybe it drew just the kind of attention they wanted, but...yeesh.

KDillabough
KDillabough

Imagine what gets done with Kaarina Dillabough. And I don't have a song either:(

Gini gini bo binny...sounds familiar:)

Ricardo Bueno
Ricardo Bueno

Ha, I actually remember all of the examples you referenced above. Was just organizing the bookshelf and picked up Tony's book to skim through it again... I really like what he and the Zappos brand have done to provide a high level of customer service through social media.

As for the bad examples, I guess common sense isn't so common sometimes, eh...

girlygrizzly
girlygrizzly

Gini! Geeze, Lady. I thought you were going to teach me to say your LAST name! Too funny! (I've never been able to sing that funny song!) (Where does "Arment" come into your name?, just wondered...) Yeah, been there. Amber, not April or Spring (??), Hey! works at times and B**ch is only a nickname, the guys have to do better than that to get a reaction after 19 years ram-rodding these ya-hoos. Ok, back to work and by the way, thank you for the inspiration (and it didn't seem that I was the only one inspired!!) from your Blog About Nothing. I hope you will look tomorrow, let me know if you'd like to go for a "ride" on the Last Frontier!

Sincerely, Always.

Amber-Lee

autumnmthompson
autumnmthompson

I feel your pain....It's AUTUMN, not Amber, Dawn, Opal, or Spring. Although, in a previous career I got so tired of correcting a client, I had convinced her there were two girls working in my dept., Autumn and Dawn. Dawn was a very bad employee. She was always late to work, took long lunches, and never returned phone calls. When anything happened it was always blamed on Dawn. Unfortuately, Dawn got fired one day! She agreed that Dawn should be fired, but she would miss her.

TheJackB
TheJackB

Wonder what would happen if you put Hank, Gertrude and the Scone Snorter in room together. Could be interesting.

Griddy
Griddy

Gertrude? Seriously? As in Gertrude McFuzz from Dr. Seuss maybe? Hahaha
Sorry, totally forgot what this post was about - you had me at Gini, fo finny...;)

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

Ha! Thanks for the morning entertainment! Names, such a simple thing that others can make so annoying! My last name has so many variations its not even funny. Our kids constantly ask people who misprounce it if they know their phonics! LOL!

Almost as bad as when people decide on their own what to call you. I went to an all girls catholic high school & Jennifer was uber popluar then! So, depending on how many of us were in a class, the nuns would dubb us Jennifer, Jenn, Jenny or whatever suited them!

And, that 867-5309 from @deleted_91832_Sean McGinnis , I cant tell you how many times I had that sung to me...but, I got my revenge and gave it out as my number many times! ;)

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Can I add what Tony Hsieh did after the Amazon Acquisition needs to be a case study in taking the money and running. Don't care about your brand and pimp your book story?

When I joined Twitter and got into it in Summer 2009 Zappos was one of the first Brands I followed. They had this aura of so many followers (1 million!). And guess what. In 5 months I saw a tweet for a Zappo's potluck video to showcase most unhealthiest food contest and non-stop promotion of his book. Never saw anything about Zappos, community etc in my stream and this was when I followed less than 200 accounts so if the posts or talking with fans were there I would of seen it.

Point being don't destroy a gift (Zappos in my opinion had more luck than anything else. Right place right time right strategy). Starbucks is doing this. They have so many fans on Facebook yet they really do nothing with it (or maybe Starbucks is the smartest of all seeing little value since those fans are coming in everyday for coffee anyway...major hint to big companies?)

Curious though if Kenneth Cole saw a sales or awareness bump from their douchenozzle move because if they did....they did the right thing maybe as heinous as it is? Remember busness exists to make money and not care about anything else (see BP, the Oil Industry, Walmart etc).

Wow my comments are getting @Griddy length again!

DHLasker
DHLasker

Hey Virginia... just trying to Train myself to sing it. Now, what was the question?

NancyD68
NancyD68

i was waiting for you to sing "Say My Name" THAT would have been hilarious! Anyway...executives do silly stuff all the time - for example they may "like" porn stars on Facebook. (ugh!)

Or..maybe they need their phone taken away from them if they have been drinking. One drunken (or angry) Tweet can destroy your business. It can and does happen.

On the plus side, there are great executives who understand how important community is, and do their best to encourage that. It must come from up top, as Gini pointed out.

Courtney Engle Robertson
Courtney Engle Robertson

I like company leaders participating in social media, but I also think it isn't just a do or don't participate. They absolutely should claim their account, preventing squatters from moving in. I also think it really depends upon the person to know if they have the tech skills, time, and understand social networking enough.

ryancox
ryancox

I asked 10 questions, and you didn't pick any of them. I'm revolting GIN-e.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@annedreshfield Gin like the drink! It's easy. :) I can't imagine wanting to draw bad attention, but I guess it takes all types.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Ricardo Bueno We were just talking about Zappos and how they've disappeared from the marketing world since the Amazon acquisition. It's a shame - they were really good at it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@girlygrizzly HAHAHAHA! It's Dee-trick. Like Marlena. I can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve tomorrow.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@autumnmthompson I think I'll call you Summer from now on. Opal, though? I kind of like that one. And SHUT UP about Dawn. HAHAHAHAH!!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Griddy LOL! I actually can't believe I did that. It just came out.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@HowieG Funny, I was just talking to a friend about that on Saturday. We don't know what goes on behind-the-scenes, but they definitely dropped off the face of the earth after the acquisition and after his book tour.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@NancyD68 Dang. I should have consulted you before I hit publish. THAT would have been hilarious!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@ryancox Revolt away. There is a long line of people in front of you. I'll get to you

Griddy
Griddy

Jeeez!! I just typed that comment - what are you - on speed or something? lol ;)

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@ginidietrich if you get acquired by @livefyre and go on a book tour and disappear I will hunt you down through google alerts!

But the point is a good one. Social has to be a long term strategy.

NancyD68
NancyD68

@ginidietrich you should hire me as a "special consultant" I might even get on a plane and come to Chicago for that!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@ginidietrich @Griddy it is pro-nounced GEE-KNEE. Can you say GEE KNEE boys and girls. What? Hold on. Getting a message from the producer. Oops. Sorry boys and girls I am being told it's JIN - EE. Do you know how to drink Gin boys and girls? Have you been to Mr Rogers website with all my cocktail recipes? We will start with the Slow JIN-EE Fizz because I am told boys and girls love Fizzy drinks like Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew. Can you say SLOE GIN-EE FIZZ boys and girls>?

Trackbacks

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