How Executives Can Avoid a Social Media Headache

Navigating the increasingly complex world of social media is the norm for executives. Here’s what you need to know.

executives headache

Social media can be a hugely important tool for executives in this day and age. When used appropriately, it can help you land your next job, help you communicate what you’re working on in your role, and help keep you on top of industry news and trends.

But setting up and occasionally maintaining your LinkedIn profile is just the tip of the social media iceberg these days.

According to a study conducted by Forbes and reported on SocialTimes, CEO engagement on social media will double by 2017.

Brands are doing this for good reason, with 82 per cent of people more likely to trust a company with CEOs on social media, according to the study.

You could get a tap on the shoulder by your HR leader any day, too. Companies often look across their organisation when considering a social media strategy for executives, with subject matter experts in different areas of the business (such as procurement) often having great insights to share.

Blurring Personal & Professional Boundaries

Of course, it takes extra time to be active in the social media. In fact, it’s blurred the lines between people’s personal and professional time and space. Used unwisely, a person’s social media presence can have repercussions in both their personal and professional lives.

This not only includes LinkedIn and Twitter, but also blogging, Instagram and Pinterest.

And at times, a lot that can go wrong. For example, the media stories of a Scottish executive who lost his $US2 million-a-year position as CEO last year when he decided to talk to his daughter during a ‘boring’ board meeting.

The executive told his daughter how he hated board meetings and that he was tired of the session that morning. He used Snapchat to share photos of the board meeting, along with tagged messages to his daughter, saying he was bored.

His daughter using a screen grabbing app to save the photos and posted them on her Instagram page, prompting a backlash that cost him his job.

This is just one of the many headlines about social media misuse that have caused headaches for successful corporate executives. There have also been plenty of accusations, misinterpretations and media headlines due to social media use.

Use Social Media as Tool for Good

However, don’t let this deter you from using social media, with executives able to use social media to their advantage rather than using it to ruin their career.

On the other hand, when used responsibly, social media has helped politicians win elections, startups take their new brand to the world and executives land new positions.

Posting blogs on LinkedIn or your company blog can also be a great way to bolster your corporate profile and help position you as an industry expert.

Outsourcing this process to a freelance journalist or copywriter can be a great way to ensure you meet your blogging goals.

Start by familiarising yourself with your company’s social media policy, which should outline their expectations. Raise any clarifications with your HR or communications department.

Avoiding the Executive Headache

When it comes to security, you can never be too careful. Here are a few ways to ensure you aren’t giving away too much information online.

Avoid checking-in: Don’t check in on Facebook at airports, on trips away for work or in specific locations during your time off. You never know who is watching for this information to be made public.

Set status updates to private: If you’re going to post business photos of delicious meals at a restaurant or tell people where you are on social media, make sure that your status settings are private, so that only your connections can view this.

Manually approve online tags: There’s an option on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to approve photos and status updates you’ve been tagged in, which could reduce the chance of attackers actively monitoring your movements.

Key Social Media Platforms

And just in case you weren’t sure where to start, here is a brief run-down of the key platforms for you.

  • Facebook

The largest social network on the web both in terms of name recognition and total number of users. It’s a great medium for businesses to connect with customers.

  • Twitter

Share 140 or fewer character text updates to your followers, along with videos, images, links and polls. Twitter enables you to interact with other users by mentioning their usernames in your posts.

  • LinkedIn

Nowadays, if you’re a professional not on LinkedIn, you’re in a small minority. Allows you to create a professional profile and connect with people around the world, from peers, to colleagues, to competitors, to potential business partners.

  • Procurious

The world’s first online business network for procurement and supply chain professionals. With over 18,000 members, there’s a wealth of knowledge and potential collaboration with fellow global professionals.

  • Instagram

This visual social media platform is based entirely on photo and video posts, with many users posting about food, art, travel, fashion, architecture, hobbies and similar subjects. Growing numbers of retailers have had strong sales growth on the back of utilising this platform to display their collections.

  • Tumblr

This is one of the most difficult social media platforms to use as a business, but it’s also one of the most interesting. Users can post text, chat posts, quotes, audio, photo and video, while reposting other users’ content is quick and easy.

  • YouTube

This video platform allows businesses to show their products in action. It’s particularly useful for companies that mostly sell over the internet.

  • Blogs

Posting interesting articles either on your own personal blog, the company blog or post articles to LinkedIn can be a great way to bolster your corporate profile.