Q: Should CEOs be intimate and hands-on with social media, or just leave it

to the “marketing-PR people”?

A: I think it is a very brave CEO in many B2C sectors who is not totally familiar with SM, if not the minutiae, then at least its power: car companies, banks, newspapers, clothing stores, electrical retailers – a thorough knowledge of SM is already the difference between success and failure. Oh, and bookstores. And what about the too-slow companies in other sectors yet to be hammered for ignoring it – universities, charities,  tourist enterprises, shopping malls, and more…

Q: A PR mentor recently told me he was seeing strategy proposals that were entirely social media based. I’d be interested in what you’ve found?

A: Put simply, I don’t think a CEO can consider a B2B or B2C relationship without social media – it is central to reputation and to sales. In 2012, I can’t conceive PR work where social media isn’t front and centre. Where do you go when you want to check out a company? The website, probably. Soon, if not now, (based on the available research) you will go to blogsites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, productreview.com.au etc, to look at interaction with the public (the complaints/compliments).

A telling article here (http://goo.gl/KkJKH), on US city councils and social media. The university study writes: “Rapid growth in local government use of social media reflects the increased participation of the population on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. A recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (Hampton et al. 2011) found that 59 percent of American adults used at least one social networking site.”

So, traditional media (newspapers) is a sort of PR fringe benefit now, trust in what journalists write is low, and readers have alternatives – a story in the AFR/SMH/The Aust/Age (unless it is a major piece or a lift out) is mainly good for staff morale or shareholder morale. TV is a different story – a positive story in T/T, ACA, 60 Mins, etc can create a massive lift in sales and reputation. A series of negative stories can do enormous damage ( the recovery requires effective social media).

Government Relations and Community Relations? Again, social media is critical. If I was a politician about to meet company representatives in my electorate, and discovered the company wasn’t engaging with clients or the public with social media, I would assume the CEO wasn’t interested in Community Relations (A mining company with no social media vs. activists with effective social media = no contest). It’s very hard for a politician to support a company with no interest in engaging with the voting public.

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