How much time would you say you’re spending on social media? As an executive of a small business, you should be spending quite a bit on it. According to a new study by BRANDfog, 75% of employees believe that executives who participate in social media are better leaders. And the same percentage believes that executives that communicate the company’s core values via social media are more trustworthy.
“In today’s hyper-connected, information-driven world, CEOs and senior executives are expected to have an active social presence,” explained Ann Charles, BRANDfog CEO. “The survey results were definitive – social media is an extremely undervalued channel for managing brand reputation, building brand trust and better leadership.”
This new emphasis on executive participation in social media dovetails with the overall rise in social media prominence: right now, 27% of total Internet time in the U.S. is used on social media sites. Social media is no longer just important for tech-minded companies; it’s a vital avenue of brand building and customer outreach for all companies. But many CEOs still don’t use social media, including 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs.
Chris Brogan, the best-selling author of several books on social media, says that executives can no longer afford to ignore social media. “It’s part of the business,” he explained. “If you’ve not implemented it, you’re now about five years behind the curve. Would you allow yourself to get five years behind in any other aspect of your business?”
Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to become social media savvy in no time.
Focus on the Right Sites
As a small business executive, your time is important. So when you participate in social media, be sure that you are spending your time on the right sites for your business. You first need to figure out where your customer base spends its time. One way to do this is to send out a survey to a pool of your current customers, or conduct your own informal research on the major networking sites. You also want to be sure that the site you choose works with your company’s brand. Does your company present itself visually? Then Youtube, Pinterest, or Tumblr might be the place for you. Do you value discussion over visuals? Then consider Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Get the Right Tools To Help
Another way to make social media communication more time-efficient is by investing in the right set of tools. Social media tools can help you easily post and monitor several social media accounts at one time. One such tool, Buffer, lets you a build a queue of content that is then automatically posted on a regular schedule. This way you can write your social media material when you have time and not have to worry about whether or not it’s the right time to post it. For more social media tools for small businesses, check out this article.
Build a Consistent Brand
As the CEO and/or executive of a small business, you are the face of your company’s brand. For this reason, your social media presence is an important component in brand building. In fact, in the aforementioned BRANDfog study, over 80% of employees believe that executives who participate in social media raise brand awareness and that it is a valuable way to manage brand reputation. But you have to be careful that the brand you are building is consistent. Make sure your visuals and messaging stays the same across social media sites and within the context of your overall brand. And don’t get pulled into negative interactions on these social sites. As the face of your company, you should be personable and engaging, but also professional at all times.
Don’t Just Talk Business
Social media gives executives the ability to put a human face on their company and connect with customers personally. So don’t bore your audience with constant shoptalk. Richard Branson, the CEO and chairman of Virgin Group, gained a massive following on Twitter by tweeting regularly on a variety of topics, including his travels and his participation in extreme sports. Chris Brogan suggests you use the magazine model when deciding on how much corporate self-promotion to post. Magazines usually have 60% content and 40% ads. You audience won’t mind reading your company messaging as long as you also provide fresh, engaging content unrelated to your business.
Social media is not going away any time soon, so smart small business owners should stop ignoring it and start using it to spread their brand and grow their customer base. And who knows, you might even start to enjoy it!
About the Author: Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Journyx strives to be relentlessly creative and to build tools that help you spend your time on things that matter. After all, time is all we have. Founded in 1996, Journyx offers customers two solutions to reach the highest levels of profitability: Journyx – project, time and expense tracking software – and Journyx PX – resource management software that provides work and financial forecasting for a complete picture of project and budget status, employee time and availability. Connect with Curt on Google+.