Is it time for all senior executives to understand the principles of business-focused social media?

6 November 2012 By Northern Lights

Is it time for all senior executives to understand the principles of business-focused social media? image

What percentage of senior executives – of UK FTSEs and corporates – would you expect to be on LinkedIn?  To be honest, I was trying to guess and couldn’t decide.  There are plenty of reasons for senior people NOT to be using social media, but even more for them to be active so they understand the risks and opportunities as a management tool.

I was invited by Eversheds to give a talk to in-house female counsel.  They were a really open-minded group and despite most not really using or ‘getting’ social media, they were keen to learn and understand more.  The brief for the event was how to use social media to build a profile and network,s and clearly I focused this around what works for professionals.

1.      Who is on LinkedIn?

I analysed the guest list in advance to see who was on LinkedIn and where they were at with it and if anyone was on Twitter.  OK, what do you think this figure will be?

Just over half are on LinkedIn, but almost no-one has a 100% complete profile.  Most are still building their connections and 57% had a photo, with the same number having written a summary on their profile.  Though these weren’t the same people.  And I only found one person on Twitter – and they hadn’t tweeted for six months.

 2.      The surprises

Talking to everyone over drinks afterwards, I was keen to hear what surprised people the most.  Here is a snapshot of the feedback

–        It’s no longer if, but when

–        Surprised at how many professional people are blogging and the topics they are covering

–        The time for it all – feels overwhelming

–        Concerned about what social media colleagues should look at when recruiting (here are some tips for employees on social media which might help on this)

–        Social media doesn’t replace PR and communications – it is just another communications tool.  You still need to be strategic, plan, evaluate

In the presentation I had given an example of Twitter at work.  We had tweeted about social media masterclasses that we are running for the University of York.  Jon Davey spotted it on Twitter and tweeted to ask if we would like him to put details of the courses on his Social Media Calendar.  We said thanks, yes please and sent to him.

In the questions, someone asked me ‘did you check out his website before accepting this?’.  I was a bit stunned actually and said ‘of course, it might be spam or inappropriate’.  The surprise for delegates was that social media isn’t something in a bubble on its own – you still need to retain your business and marketing head!

3.      Five professional blogs worth looking at

Pink Tape blog

Brendan Guilfoyle of The P&A Partnership

Bradford University School of Management  experts blog

Northern Lights PR

4.      How do you get a 100% complete profile on LinkedIn?

We talked about the importance of creating a professional profile and thinking about keywords that people might search for someone on.  Words like ‘commentator’ and ‘speaker’ may bring opportunities.  Profiles should look professional and reflect the individual’s expertise – and fit in strategically with the company and its goals.  Generally a profile that looks as if it is for job-hunting doesn’t come over well.

LinkedIn is increasingly used as a search engine – through the Advanced Search function.  LinkedIn is far more likely to include you in searches if your profile is 100% complete.  To do this you need the following ingredients (until recently you needed 3 recommendations – I hadn’t picked up till now that this is no longer needed)

  • Photo
  • Two previous jobs
  • A summary
  • Education
  • Industry and postal code
  • A current position with description
  • Two more positions
  • At least 5 skills
  • At least 50 connections

5.      Why does 100% complete LinkedIn profile matter?

It does make a difference on searches if your profile is complete – here is what LinkedIn says are the stats

  • 100% complete profile = 40x more opportunities
  • Photo = 7x more likely found in searches
  • 2 recent positions = 12x more likely to be found

6.      Be strategic in social media – just as in PR and marketing

The group discussed their professional goals and we looked at how social media could help these.  Some of those discussed were

–        Be a recognised expert

–        Find non-executive director roles

–        Raise internal profile – help with promotion

–        Attract board talent to the business

–        Develop leadership skills

As with any goal, professionals need a strategy.  Questions to look at include

–        What do I want to achieve?

–        Who am I targeting?

–        What keywords do I need?

–        What image – photos?

–        What experience and expertise do I need to convey?

For those just starting out in social media, our free ebook on social media for business could help you.

What struck me most was how these fantastic lawyers are part of the senior management teams, but like other boardroom bosses, most don’t really understand the potential of social media – or its risks.  As lawyers, social media does not come naturally – instinctively they want to manage and approve everything going out. 

But because directors still tend to think of social media as being ‘Facebook for teenagers’ rather than a strategic business tool, are they really managing their businesses properly?  Or can you delegate this to more junior teams?  I don’t think so – I think every boss needs to understand the principles, the risks and the opportunities.  Or do they?

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Written by Northern Lights


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