By Erik Qualman
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Allan Mulally [Ford], Tony Hsieh [Zappos], and Howard Shultz [Starbucks] embrace social media and their companies have benefited. However, many CEOs despise social media. This can be challenging for the social media champions within companies or social media consultants trying to help companies. For the socialmediarati, we have a choice; we can call these CEO’s disparaging names, or we can better understand why they hate social media. The first may be more fun [name calling], but the later is more productive and beneficial.
In a great post from the executives at DemingHill [Why Executives Hate Social Media] we get an unfiltered viewpoint – straight from the executives – on why they feel this way. I discovered this posts because they use many facts from my Social Media ROI post & video. I encourage you all to read the DemingHill post, but it is VERY long, so below is the Cliff Notes version.
#1 I Want Control
I want to control my company! I want to control my brand! I want to determine my destiny! It’s too important to leave it to chance (or simply be outvoted by the uninformed bourgeois)! Unfortunately and tragically for us executives, the beauty and power of social media is only fully unleashed when we LET IT GO, and that, my friends, is the hardest thing for us to do (…and also explains why we hate checking luggage at the airport).
#2 Lack of Understanding = Fear
The rapid rate of change in digital innovation has caused CEO’s to feel EXTREMELY vulnerable around technology because it is something on which we have become VERY reliant, but which we understand and “control” so little, and this vulnerability leads to fear, and this fear to irrational decisions and suboptimal outcomes. When CEO’s don’t have the confidence in their staff to delegate, or lack the humility to admit their ignorance regarding technology advances, they get defensive and act out in fear – or fail to act altogether.
#3 Fear of It Being a Fad
The truth is, I would LOVE to commit to social media in a significant way, but so far nobody in my organization has stepped forward with a cerebral, strategic, multi-generational, integrated, systematic, and sustainable methodology and roadmap for synergistically capitalizing on this medium over the long haul.
Why We Can Learn to Love It
#1 Unfiltered Feedback
If done correctly, social media enables CEO’s to hear raw, candid feedback from real people – people who aren’t afraid of being fired because they CAN’T be fired. The truth is, leaders with their ego in check are already fully aware that they work for the customer – the customer is his boss – so if the customer doesn’t like dropped calls on their iPhone or the sauce on their Domino’s pizza, it’s their job to make it better. Now, every customer is not always right (or wrong), but if 850 out of 1000 user comments say that the new Sketcher’s Sport shoe caused them to sprain their ankle, then something needs to be fixed – and FAST! CoolCleveland’s Founder Thomas Mulready is a perfect example of a CEO with this customer orientation. After emailing out his weekly eMagazine for 7 years, he decided that it needed to be updated, and set about introducing a new format with much fanfare. In doing so, he also did something revolutionary – he asked all 90,000 of his readers for feedback on what they thought of the new style – and boy did they reply with scores of comments submitted over the span of a few days. But then he did something else revolutionary – he actually listened, modifying and improving the new site to reflect reader tastes and preferences. Yes, it takes humility (“Who are these people to give ME feedback? I invented this product! Don’t they know they can just click the links?) but the end result is an engaged audience who now feel genuinely empowered to provide even MORE feedback, emboldened by the knowledge that their comments actually impact (and can improve) the end product.
As you’ve probably noticed, NOBODY can tell the company story and embody the company brand like the CEO (think Steve Jobs) and by offering the ability to immediately and directly engage stakeholders – whether on a typical day, during a product launch, and/or especially during a time of crisis – social media provides an invaluable medium for maximizing brand value and minimizing potential brand degradation. Social media helps firms “Keep it real” but couches it in a positive brand-reinforcing context.
#3 Low Cost (Six Sigma)
In case you were wondering, executives LOVE things like Six Sigma because, 1. It reminds us of our Greek fraternity days in college, 2. The other soccer Dad’s don’t understand Value Stream Mapping, and 3. Six Sigma and lean processes are all about SPEED and COST SAVINGS, two of our favorite topics. By its very architecture, social media is positioned to leverage firms’ Six Sigma orientation. PLUS, it takes your marketing posture from a one-way, blanketing, bullhorn approach to a more intimate, just-in-time interaction; offering the opportunity for a more detailed, valuable and more PROFITABLE conversation and connection with your audience (and you don’t need a Black Belt to do it).
To read the full original post from the DemingHill executives, please click here: Why Executives Hate Social Media