Recently, I have been reading a number of articles that are causing me to think about how SMEs consider and use Social Media in their business. These articles describe the power of online clans and communities and how businesses including SMEs and sole traders now have a promotional reach that was unimaginable in the past.
One particular article that caused me concern was about the low level of current Social media participation of CEOs and business leaders. It reported that; 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs do not have any social media presence; the majority of people on Twitter are over 35; and LinkedIn is a social network used by professionals, not teenage drunks uploading party pics as many business people think, according to Social Media expert Catriona Pollard, CEO of CP Communications.
In the SME sector I interact with, many business owners appear to have the opinion that unless their business is involved in IT, Professional services or Marketing, having a direct and active involvement in social media themselves is largely a waste of time in their busy lives and something they don’t necessarily want their staff to see them “indulging in”. They all need to be focused on working, not playing on social media at work and after hours is for catching up on accounts or relaxing. Whilst this may be true and we all know how busy people are especially those that have to fulfil many roles, another comment made by Catriona in the same article was that; “Bad stuff seeps into the empty space leaders leave in social media universe”.
As business owners and managers, it is critical to manage priorities but also to review what those priorities are from time to time and see what can be done smarter not just harder. Perhaps by re-considering the business rituals that we do, now is a great time to acknowledge the power of proactive involvement in social media and explore how when done properly, this can set us up to proactively position a positive reputation for ourselves and our company and manage how we are seen by clients, alliance partners and future employees. Alternatively, we run the risk of leaving the creation of our company or leadership profile to the marketing team by default rather than by design, or at worst, to disgruntled employees and clients.
It is also important to understand how many active and passive job seekers in the marketplace “follow” their ideal employer/s, and keep an active eye on what is occurring in relation to company growth/decline, who is providing the messages in the public eye and when their ideal job openings may be coming up. This is very easily done with using Google alerts and following the word on various platforms.
Remembering that most users of Linkedin are over 35 and this is increasingly known as a cost effective & valuable talent search platform, to have an informative and interesting profile of you as the company leader assists to create a clear and attractive picture of the company by adding details of your key activities and the values and culture that are key to working at your company to attract the stakeholders you want to. Increasing evidence shows that as the war on talent keeps tightening, your strategies must encompass use of social media.
Most of your stakeholders already have online profiles, so plant the plants you choose in that social media space to flourish rather than leaving the space for the bad weeds to grow.
A final note to consider, as you put in place Social Media policies & procedures that are useful to protect your company’s reputation, ensure you are not blocking yourself from online opportunities by making these too restrictive and limiting.