The C-Suite and Social Media: An Interview with Thomas White, C-Suite Network

Mar 12, 2014

Article ImageAccording to HubSpot's 2013 State of Inbound Marketing report, 23% of marketers invested in blogs and social media last year. That number seems shockingly low, and could indicate that some decision-making executives are still wary of social media. EContent talked to Thomas White, co-founder and CEO of the C-Suite Network--a company designed to enable c-suite professionals to maximize the potential of peer networks and social media--to better understand the C-Suite's hesitance to embrace social media.

Q: What are the main concerns still holding C-Suite executives back from embracing social media?

A: Unfamiliarity with social technology. It's hard for C-Suite executives to be beginners in new areas. So, rather than jump into these areas, they hold back.

They don't see the value to themselves and their companies - C-Suite leaders don't realize they get more information from their customers in social media interactions than any other channel.

They believe they are too busy. Ask a C-Leader if they have time for customers, and they will likely say "yes." Yet, they haven't made the connection that social media is about engaging in a direct dialogue with their customers.

Q: Are executives using social media on a personal level and simply shunning it for business purposes?

A: Executives are using social media for personal interactions, to a limited extent. What they are missing is the vital need to create a personal brand using social media. Customers want to connect with people first. If they feel they can know a company's C-Suite leaders, they will trust the company more. The C-Suite leader also benefits with having greater visibility that enhances their career.

Q: Do you see any trends in terms of which executives tend to embrace social media more or less?

A: C-Suite leaders who embrace social media do so for the following reasons:

  • They want to be a great example for their employees.
  • They want to personally know what their customers think without filtration.
  • They want to be the public face of the company and know social media is the place to do that.
  • They want to manage a crisis, and social media is critical for this purpose.

Q: Are there any social networks that seem to alarm C-Suite executives less than others?

A: Twitter confuses them with its volume of messages. Facebook is too intimate for many. LinkedIn produces too many unsolicited messages. Google+ is something they don't understand.

What is helpful is for the C-Suite advocates in organizations to work with their C-Suite leaders to help them use social media tools, like HootSuite, to easily manage their online presence.

Q: Stories of companies' social successes abound. What are the main points a social media advocate needs to address to calm the C-Suite's fears?

A: It's not so much that a social media advocate needs to do anything. It's the C-Suite leaders who need to realize they are either going to get with social media, or their personal relevancy will diminish-and their career future will be limited. It wasn't so long ago that C-Suite leaders had assistants answer their email. NO MORE. This is the same thing with social media.