I presented on The Social CEO at Forrester’s Marketing Forum. During Q&A I got a number of good questions from the audience that I didn’t have time to answer — here are my (late) responses.
Q: “Are customers really interested in what the CEO thinks? Aren’t they more interested in the message from the company?”
A: They’re interested in both, as long as the CEO has something enlightening and valuable to say. Hey, why buy products from a company run by a schmuck?
Question: “Is there any data that shows the ROI of having a social CEO — or do they not want to be measured?”
Answer: The CEOs that I hang out with are measurement-crazed, and that’s part of the problem. They may use the squishy measurement of social return as an excuse not to do it — and that keeps them from gaining the “soft” returns — fortifying the brand, attracting new customers, retaining customers, and winning new employees.
Q: “How much do you need to monitor your CEO’s blog? And how is that done? It can’t be easy.”
A: The Social CEO should have a strong support team — that monitors and reviews Twitter and blog traffic at least every 24 hours.
Q: “What are the ways to build followers, especially for B2B companies?”
A: The Social CEO should not be chasing followers. He should be Social Light — blogging six to eight times per year and posting on Twitter 12-24 times per year. This level of presence will reveal the broad thinking of the CEO, while matching up with the time demands of running a company.
Q: “What about CEOs using social to ‘humanize’ themselves? The Zappos.com CEO does a great job of this on Twitter — his tweets are hilarious!”
A: If revealing himself comes naturally to the CEO, then putting a human face on the company is a plus. But the CEO shouldn’t get too personal — she can risk coming off as self-absorbed and self-centered. On the flip side, a naturally private CEO should never force folksiness.
Q: “Is there value in a ‘CEO Blog’ even if it’s not the CEO him/herself blogging? Should you use a ghost blogger?”
A: No. It would be better to do nothing than to launch a phony blog.
Q: “What are your thoughts on using social networking to manage a crisis — i.e., the CEO making a statement or speaking to customers directly via Twitter or a blog?”
A: Good idea, but be careful. Crises are a time to show that the CEO is in control, has a plan, and cares — and social is a good outlet for these thoughts. But crises also trigger lawsuits, regulatory oversight, investor scrutiny, and other fiduciary restrictions that merit careful messaging. In crises I would keep the social stream concise, simple, direct, and as personal as the moment permits. Oh, and you should probably check with the lawyers, at least until the crisis subsides.
Q: “George — who tweets your tweets?”
Thanks for the questions — if you have more, post them and I’ll answer them here. Or add your own answers to the questions above — I’d love to get your thoughts.