Social Media: An Executive Decision

Hey, look at Greg (fake name). He is having a meltdown in front of his fancywork peeps. I hear him saying, “ F#@K, S$#T, I can’t do this.” Graphite hits the ground. Poor guy turns a fun game of tennis into an ego match with his executive buddies.

Greg is a good athlete. MBA from a famous school. What’s the matter? Greg later confides in me for tennis pointers. Not a pro, but I know a thing or two about the sport. His main concern is how he looks when he plays the game. He wants to look good and beat his executive buddies at the annual company retreat in California. That’s his first problem. Caring about how others think. I say to him, “Play like nobody’s watching. Play your own way.” In short, it worked. He made an executive decision.

That’s my hook. Famous news media everywhere, Wall Street Journal amongst one of them, are telling us how CEOs and Executives fear SoMe (that means Social Media). They tell us seven in 10 Fortune 500 CEOs have no presence on major social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Of those who do, 4% have known Twitter accounts and 8% use Facebook under their own names.

I do not care if a CEO or executive chooses TO BE or NOT to be on Twitter or Facebook or whatever SoMe site. I know more exciting people to engage with than a boring business stiff who talks like they have something up their keister. Do you really want to read another article from an MBA schooled executive about strategy? Nope. Even worse when that stiff hires a PR or Marketing firm to engage with me on SoMe.

I DO care if a stiff is interested in developing human relationships. I am human. I can say that. I find it cool when I connect and engage with someone online who later becomes a real-life person conversation and relationship. Also called networking. Just happened over coffee the other day as it has before with me. That is kinda cool. Oh. Hello Dr. Daniel Crosby. Check out one of his good talks here, You’re Not That Great.

So why do they fear it? I don’t know. Maybe because they do not understand it. Makes sense. Nobody really does until they try it. We fear the unknown. Gone are the days of preaching SoMe like a religion. Let it be an executive decision. Continue to lead by example and educate when asked or given the chance. @lruettimann from the Cynical Girl just busted an HR brethren for doing it wrong. Check it out.

I get why an executive would not want to be on SoMe. They are not celebrities. Many do enough public appearances and have no time for another spotlight. SoMe is not for everyone. Nobody can tell them how Twitter will raise their stock price. If a CEO or executive has a purpose for it, then do it. Do not hire someone to do it for your name. And when you do… do it like nobody is watching. Do it your own way. In the same way, I would tell you to play tennis. That is an executive decision.

Related: What Social Media Teaches Us About Leadership.

By Ben Martinez

Ben Martinez is an HR Pro who blogs at the HR Hound. Ben is a self-proclaimed family guy, exerciser and HR journeyman, of Fortune 500 companies.  Fantasy sports hater -  avid sports watcher. Ben wrote the book on coffee networking, so if you’re in the St. Louis  area, hit him up for a cup.  Contact Ben on  Twitter. Views are his, not his employers.