What is Social Media?

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Twitter...Bla, Bla, Bla!


The more I speak with association managers, marketing and communications professionals, senior executives and CEO’s, one message is absolutely clear. They feel bombarded by the hype around social media and frankly are getting sick and tired of hearing about it!

At a recent meeting of about 100 communications and marketing specialists (the kinds of people that are embracing social media) more than 95% of them have used TWITTER and 100% of those have determined that it held little to no value, or worse, was a time suck.

An Executive Director of an important trade association summed it up best when she felt that social media hype was exerting a tremendous amount of” peer pressure to embrace social media” but that it was difficult at best to see where the value is. Her view was echoed by colleagues and they wanted to know, where is the measureable ROI in social media?

These frustrations are both normal and unfortunate. Social Media has a great deal to offer organizations of every size and type, but the heavy focus on social media technology features, rather than the business strategy of how and why to use social media, is the problem.

What good is it to know that ‘Beyonce’ has half a million followers on TWITTER? What lessons are learned for a professional membership organization that Susan Boyle’s combined YouTube hits now number over 100 million? Or that Facebook has 330 million users?

It is like saying that China has 1.4 billion people so therefore it makes sense to do business in China. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but you do not decide just because of the impressive numbers.

Some organizations are starting to wade through the hype and make real, measureable use of social media. These organizations have several things in common:

  • They have identified a specific use or objective for their social media activities
  • They have determine how they are going to measure success and they start that measurement right from the beginning
  • They have developed a strategy and a business plan that includes designating sufficient human resources to implement and manage their plans.

In other words, they are treating social media as they would any other important business project, not like it is a hobby.


The Social CEO!

The relationship between a “CEO” and social media is an interesting one. For the CEO, social media raises two very important questions:

-          What does social media mean for me personally?

-          What does social media mean for my organization?

In both cases, it is becoming increasingly important that CEO’s of organizations large and small have an answer for these two questions.

The spectrum of social media understanding on the part of CEO’s runs from those that are skeptical of social media, do not use it and consider it a distraction at best; to those that are social media ‘rock stars” that have their own personal blogs and Twitter followers.

For staff within an organization, where your CEO falls on this spectrum will have a huge impact on your organization’s ability to effectively implement and leverage social media.

At a very minimum, a CEO today needs to understand at least enough about social media, what it is and what it is capable of, to make an informed decision about how his/her organization should be engaged with social media tools, campaigns and the allocation of resources.

Not every CEO will or should become a social media fanatic. However, because social media is now a major force in how people collaborate, make buying decisions, get their news and form decisions, it would be foolish to dismiss social media as a “distraction” or waste of time.

Many CEO’s today face a real challenge. Social media is so filled with hype and jargon that many senior level managers are not sure how or where to start. Uncertain about what is hype and what is actionable information. Not clear on how to drive or to measure ROI.

So the next time you feel like your CEO “doesn’t get it”, remember that answering the questions (what does it mean to me personally, what does it mean for my organization?) are at the forefront of a typical CEO’s mind when it comes to social media.

It is in everyone’s interest to get solid answers to these two questions!


Do you know of a CEO that would like to network with peers to better understand social media?

Join TheSocialCEO on LinkedIn (CEO only networking group)