In the past four months, I've outlined how leaders shape organizational culture and how these leaders have to be shape shifters in real time. The movement to "go social" is no longer an evolution of how organizations will adapt and change, but rather more of a revolution in which companies must either change with the times - or be forever changed (not necessarily for the better).
Although the impact of social media on organizational profitability, customer following and HR recruitment efforts is readily available to anyone who uses Google, there are still many holdouts in the executive ranks on making the social media shift. We hear a variety of reasons for not going social but these won't stand up for much longer.
The social media shift has shifted control...
One challenge that plagues leadership is that they're used to having the advantage of knowing more about their business, industry or product than anyone else in the organization. Now they have to learn something new that someone else knows more about than them. So we hear them lament...
- "This social stuff wastes too much time."
- "Where's the ROI?"
- "It's just not my thing."
- "Why would anyone care where I'm having lunch?"
- "It will cheapen our brand."
- "It's not safe to the security of our (fill in the blank here) data, files, employees, shareholders, future."
One would think that the companies leading this social media shift would be high-tech, marketing and advertising, or information companies. Surprisingly, many of the front runners leveraging social media are old school organizations that have been around for a very long time.
Case in point: Maersk Line
Laurence Hebberd of LinkHumans posted a case study about Maersk Line. The study outlines how the world's largest container shipping company, with operations in 150 countries and 250,000 employees, created a social media strategy in October 2011 that has helped position the company as a forerunner in engaging employees and customers via social channels.
Here is a screenshot of Maersk Line's Facebook page:
Maersk Line has had some great success using a variety of channels:
- Facebook to engage with followers in a visual and conversational manner
- Twitter as a news outlet
- LinkedIn as a B2C platform via its company page and the usage of groups
According to the LinkHumans case study, Maersk Line has been such a success story on Facebook due to the company's engaging, regular updates, business-based audience and relevant content that even Facebook wanted to discuss how Maersk Line created such success.
Becoming a social media-friendly organization
We can assume that Maersk Lines's CEO or top leadership are not themselves deploying these social media strategies or maintaining a Twitter feed. However, social-media savvy leadership teams are the ones that understand that their organizational culture needs to embrace and evolve into a more social media-friendly organization.
And that the only way to get there is by allocating the resources and supporting the transformation culturally.
Certainly there are situations where it's not appropriate for the CEO to be tweeting, etc. However, if imitation is the highest form of flattery, here are some of the best CEO's to imitate.
- Marc Benioff, Salesforce
- Richard Branson, Virgin Group
- Steve Forbes, Forbes
- Peter Aceto, ING Canada
- Marissa Mayer, Yahoo
- Rupert Murdoch, NewsCorp
These leaders are doing an amazing job of owning their social space. Check out what they're doing and see if their social strategy would be a good cultural fit for to your organization.
Your turn: Are you a senior leader who is active on social media? What tips can you pass along?