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5 Fact-Driven Reasons Your CEO Needs to Embrace Social Media

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Written by: Danielle Stitt

There has been plenty written about the growing importance of social media for the CEO. At the same time, studies on the topic reveal a real reluctance by the C-suite to embrace it, and financial services CEOs are among the worst.

You know that your CEO needs to get social, that social media is no longer just a ‘nice to have’, but rather a pivotal part of any business strategy. But how do you convince your CEO that the risks of not embracing this new social paradigm far outweigh the risks of embracing it.

In other words, how do you convince your CEO that it makes business sense to get social?

Here’s how to show them the money.

As financial services marketers we understand that the audience is now king.

This means that our customers and prospects (our audience) are online researching our products and services, reading other customers’ reviews about our brands, and using social channels to engage in two-way conversations with us.

And with 14 million of Australia’s 23 million people on Facebook alone in June, the audience is definitely already social.

Social Media Statistics Australia – June 2015

survey released at Cannes this year by Social@Ogilvy and Survey Monkey found that “for brands to successfully use social media to help achieve their business goals, they need to move away from simply collecting likes and getting retweets and instead provide relevant, genuine interaction with their customers and brand boosters”.

So here’s the five fact-driven reasons your CEO needs to embrace social media.

  1. Customers reward businesses that serve them on social media  

Customer behaviour is changing. Statistics from the United States show that 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for customer service, double the number that used it for social marketing (including discounts, coupons etc.).

And that’s not all. A recent Nielsen report found 33% of users actually prefer to contact brands using social media rather than the telephone.

But what does this mean for the bottom line? Good news. Better engagement with customers via social media does translate into cold hard cash. A recent article by Bain & Co revealed that customers who engage with businesses on social media will spend between 20-40% more when compared with other customers.

Not only does a good social media presence increase customer satisfaction, it also drives revenue.

  1. Legally, a social media presence is becoming a must-have

Regulators in Australia and the US now recognise that information and conversations on social media impact a company’s reputation, and therefore its share price.

And when it comes to mandatory disclosure, a July 2015 ASIC directive allowed for digital channels to be the default channels for company information disclosure.

This directive builds on the ASX’s 2013 guidance on disclosure in which it advised companies to monitor online for sensitive information, or suffer the consequences.

This recognition by Regulators of the importance of social media as a means of communication has changed the playing field forever. The risk of saying nothing when there is the option of disclosing information is becoming too high. Civil penalties for non-compliance are hefty, and there is even scope to inadvertently commit a criminal offence.

  1. Social media is just as important for sales in B2B as B2C

Some financial services CEOs may “get it” for B2C, but continue to question the importance of social media is in the B2B environment.

Consider the following figures:

  • 85% of B2B buyers would like companies to present information via social networks. (Iconsive)
  • But only 20% of CMOs leverage social networks to engage with customers. (Marketing Land)
     

The canny CMO clearly has a window of opportunity to give their B2B customers what they want, while at the same time differentiating their brand from the competition.

  1. The sociability of the CEO is seen as a marker for the company as a whole

study by Weber Shandwick found that two-thirds of customers said their opinion of the CEO directly impacted their perception of the company. Needless to say, a CEO who is active on social media is building his/her personal brand with every interaction, (more on the benefits of this in point five), but if the CEO acts in an authentic and appealing way on social media, the company brand will also benefit.

And a quick word about the importance of staying authentic. It’s difficult to outsource yourself and stay yourself, so for CEOs not managing their own social profiles, we recommend that at the very least they take on the role of editor-in-chief. Inauthenticity can be spotted a mile away… and it isn’t appealing.

  1. The best jobs may well go to the most social CEO

Finally, if your CEO isn’t convinced about the benefits to the business, perhaps some reasons closer to home might tip the scales.

In their book “A World Gone Social”, Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt found that potential CEO candidates are now assessed on their social presence. All else being more or less equal, Boards expressed a strong preference for a modern CEO, with real social media competency and activity.

Five years ago, when boards were searching for a leader, social media proficiency wasn’t even on the radar. Fast forward five years from now and social media fluency looks like being table stakes when going for the top job.

Now it’s your turn. What compelling reason convinced your CEO to get social?

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