How to walk the walk in social media, as well as talk the talk

EY - social networks & CIOs

Given how technology leaders love to show off the latest gadget or smartphone they’re testing, it’s odd how few have been early adopters of social media. In fact, many go to great lengths to avoid it. This is a missed opportunity.

Guess who is currently the 39th most-followed person on Twitter, sandwiched between the pop stars Avril Lavigne and Chris Brown? Step forward Microsoft founder Bill Gates. His presence on the list is a reminder not only that IT has changed the world, but that branding, whether personal or corporate, has great power.

Social outcasts

Given that the social media phenomenon was initially powered by technology and that CIOs spend much of their time working with the latest technology, it’s odd that so few are enthusiastic participants. A study published by Techcrunch last year revealed that just 1 in 10 CIOs from Fortune 250 companies actively use public social networks. Within that group, more than one-third either do not have a LinkedIn profile, or have fewer than 100 connections.

Why should CIOs bother? Well, one important reason for doing so is that a large part of most CIOs’ jobs these days is to talk to the rest of the business about social media. For example, the CIO must advise on how to analyze big data and how to improve internal communication. If a CIO is one of the few people in the business who is not an active social media user, then they are not speaking with full authority.

New networks

But there’s more to it than that. Social media offers CIOs an unparalleled opportunity to reach out to colleagues, peers, rivals, customers, shareholders and just about every other stakeholder you can think of. The value of these opportunities to swap ideas, share experiences and simply build networks of contacts is huge.

There is also – whisper it quietly – the CIO’s personal brand. Social media is a way for you to build a reputation and boost your profile. Your Tweets or posts are an ever-evolving advertisement for your skills, experiences and insights. According to Forbes, UBS’s CIO is now lauded as the “#1 social CIO” – something that is hardly likely to harm his future job prospects. So consider the following:

  • Start slowly. Social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to watch and learn without having to commit yourself. Start by following colleagues and influencers with whom you are familiar. Once you’ve found communities in which you feel comfortable, you can begin to participate more enthusiastically.
  • Be committed. Once you’re confident, work at it. Post regularly to the networks you use and explore new networks. Set up a personal homepage that tells people who you are and provides links to your social media presences. Consider starting a blog.
  • Build your audience. Applications such as Pulse enable you to scan large numbers of blogs and news feeds that are relevant to your interests – and to share them with your social media audience. It’s a great way to consistently generate new content. Do you normally come to the office, grab a coffee and read a paper? Spend these 15 minutes on social media and you’ll soon generate a meaningful audience.
  • Proceed with caution. Do think carefully about what you post, both in terms of content and tone. Does your social media profile present the image you want the world to see? Does it cause any problems with your company’s social media strategies or policies?
  • Stay up to date. Make sure your online profiles are updated regularly as your skill set evolves. Aim to be a leader in what you have to say, rather than a follower. And consider presentation too. Applications such as Vizify are an interesting way to express your ideas.
  • Promote yourself. If you want to be a social media leader, don’t be afraid to use tools such as Google Analytics or applications such as BrandYourself to improve your search engine rankings and profiles.
  • Look within the enterprise too. Participate in the social networks that your company operates to foster collaboration. If such platforms don’t exist, consider launching them.

What are you experiences with social media? Let us know how you’re approaching this vast topic in the comments section below.

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