In social media saturated world executives have to lead by example

Blog, Polaris News

Blog by Polaris MD Ben Pinnington

This weekend’s sporting boycott of social media brings the whole issue of social media content into sharp focus. The welcome protest is a bid to force Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to tackle the unacceptable levels of online abuse.

Social media forms a part of my forthcoming book on #publicrelations Making Waves. My thoughts:

  • The famous troubleshooter Sir John Harvey-Jones said: ‘the main activities a company chairman should concern themselves with are strategic planning and public relations’. Today that inextricably extends leaders responsibility to social media.
  • Yes the standard of debate can be poor and abusive content is unacceptable. But the power and reach is indisputable so executives have to ensure they and their organisation lead by example – as the sporting authorities are doing.
  • PR pioneer Sam Black said the values of public relations are ‘courtesy, good taste, intelligence, decency and above all responsibility’. He referenced the late Czech leader Vaclav Havel as a consummate communicator embodying these standards.  Current examples include the sports writers Mike Atherton and Henry Winter.
  • More executives taking this approach would greatly ameliorate social media.
  • A big challenge is that executives are not harnessing the power of social media enough.
  • LinkedIn has 730 million users, half log in daily but only around 8 million share content.
  • If you are unsure how to use social media ‘listen-in’ first to gauge style. Remember social media is a brilliant listening tool.
  • Consider creating ‘HOT’ content around Heritage, Operations and Thought leadership.
  • Empower your team, suppliers and stakeholders by involving them in your social media campaign.
  • Support moves to stamp out abusive content.
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