Most C-level leaders don't tap Social Networks. Why is that?
The C-Suite is remarkably reluctant to use social media. There are of course the exceptions – those CEOs, CMOs, CIOs and other CXOs who embrace it and love being visible and vocal. They are the minority though. Most are unwilling to progress beyond a basic LinkedIn profile and zero activity.
I think this is a shame. Social networks offer such an amazing opportunity to meet new people, learn new things, gain important insights, find employees and see the world through other people’s eyes. Nothing like it has ever existed before. As Dionne Lew says, Twitter is the ‘global brain’. Not tapping into it is crazy in my opinion.
But most C-level leaders don’t tap into it. Why is that? Are they too busy? Do they simply not understand it? Are they the ‘wrong generation’? Are they afraid of its public nature? It’s probably a combination of all of these things – and others. Each will have their own particular reasons. They may be misguided, but that’s the way it is.
For people like me who get great value out of social networking, it’s frustrating to see the leaders of businesses and organisations (profit and non-profit) ‘missing out’ on all the potential benefits. So what’s the solution?
One way is to encourage execs to embrace existing social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter and provide training in how to do it properly. This is important and is, in fact, a thriving industry in its own right.
A Social Network Of Their Own?
Another solution is to provide shy execs with a social network of their own - a network that only verified business leaders can join.
But a platform on its own isn’t enough – there already is at least one such network out there (and it’s not a great success). Any new C-Suite social network must offer something special – something CXOs need that they can’t get anywhere else without spending thousands of dollars or taking a day out the office (or both).
What is that something special? What is the hook that will get them using it?
If existing ’vertical’ social networks, such as those for scientific researchers, teachers or IT experts, are anything to go by, the key is to offer useful, practical tools (not just engagement). It is often this ‘enabling’ software (the hook) that attracts users in the first place.
"Any new C-Suite social network must offer something special – something CXOs need that they can’t get anywhere else without spending thousands of dollars or taking a day out the office (or both)."
So, apart from the opportunity to network with their peers, what specific tools or unique features should a C-Suite social network offer to attract users?
To answer this question we first need to understand the wants, needs and desires of our target audience.
Looking at CEOs specifically, their main responsibilities include:
• Setting strategy
• Communication the company’s vision (internally and externally)
• Guiding company culture
• Hiring senior executives
• Allocating capital
• Staying on top of industry trends
• Meetings (lots of meetings)
Many CXOs are already members of exclusive peer groups. They pay a lot of money to join and participate in group meetings. Here are some examples:
• Young Presidents Association
• Vistage International
• Critical Eye
There are many others.
Members find the following features of peer groups valuable:
• Learning from peers
• Discussing strategy
• A sounding board
• Being challenged
• Sharing problems
• Small group settings
• Complete confidentiality
• The importance of a good facilitator
My research also shows that CXOs put aside time for reading almost every day – usually before they go to work. Staying on top of industry trends and business news is vital, so they have to find time for it.
So, taking all of these factors in mind, what would CXOs want from a stand-alone online platform? Here are some top-line suggestions:
• The ability to have confidential, ‘virtual’ peer-to-peer discussions
• Access to mentors
• Access to a global think tank of experts
• Access to peer-recommended and reviewed industry news and trends
• Access to high level thought leadership
If this was available, would the C-Suite use it? What do you think?
Find out more on the future of Business at our DLUK - Trends Briefing on the 24th September 2015