There’s a new kind of leader – one who ‘gets’ that when more than two billion people use social media, it fundamentally transforms connection, communication and the way we do business.
They are taking to the airwaves on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms, building global networks, leveraging online opportunities and listening directly to what their customers have to say.
Sadly, they are still a minority. Around 30% of executives currently have a social media account or presence, but of those who do, many sign up but don’t use them, a bit like going to a lunch and standing in the corner. (The figures however are much lower when you look at who is active in social media.)
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Iggy Pintado, author of Connection Generation and marketing director at the Australian Institute of Company Directors, agrees that more directors and executives need to be on social media, but that it’s only part of a much bigger game.
“Connection is deeply transforming the way we do business and this needs to be reflected in every layer of business strategy, from creating social leaders to socialising the business.
“That’s not about being offline or online, but ensuring your business strategy is in line with a connected economy worth trillions of dollars.”
Pintado believes the current paralysis at the top is due in part to the need for executives to manage risk, but that they also need to consider the risk of not being connected, as well as the opportunities that it presents.
A recent two-year joint study by Capgemini and the MIT of almost 400 firms confirmed that digitally mature businesses are up to 26% more profitable than others and that a key factor for maturity was a digitally driven board or executive, prepared to propel change through every layer of the business.
Here are just a few leaders who understand the importance of social media for business. They talk about what it means to boldly connect on digital platforms.
30,868 Twitter followers
CEO of Working Three, columnist for BRW, Marketing Mag, Social Media Monthly
On being on social media
I have always been deeply interested in the way people communicate online. I see social media as one of the most significant advances in the way we communicate since the telephone. I’ve been using platforms for at least six years. There is no better way to position yourself as a thought leader and to demonstrate the values you see as important.
The best and worst things about social media
For me, the never-ending debate and communication I get from people who read my work is invaluable. It can use up a lot of time if you are not disciplined, so have a plan and stick to it.
Consistency is key. Connect with people you respect, quickly filter out rubbish and focus on what will deliver value.
1303 Twitter followers
Advisory board chairman at Thiess and non-executive director at SunWater Ltd, Hyne and Queensland Theatre Company
On being on social media
I use social media platforms like Twitter to access (and share) corporate governance and leadership resources that I find interesting and that add value to my role as a director. Having a deep understanding of the benefits, and pitfalls, of social media also helps directors ensure they are asking the right questions in the boardroom about the online strategies for the future of the organisations they govern.
I have also found social media platforms like Twitter a remarkable way of expanding my network with other board directors from outside my traditional, often geographically based network, to around the world.
On the importance of social media
Just as every director might have always read a daily newspaper for the latest information on the businesses they govern, the industries in which they operate or for updates on the broader economic environment, this information is now available on social media. Knowing how to navigate sites like Twitter means directors can access information from around the world quicker and directly from the source.
Directors can add value to their organisations by educating themselves as to how social media can be leveraged to increase shareholder value of the companies they govern. Regardless of the type of industry in which an organisation operates, it is essential for directors to understand what challenges, risks or opportunities social media may present for future online strategies.
On leaders in social media
Directors are increasingly understanding that the conversations about their companies, their competitors, their industries and even themselves are happening online whether they are listening or not.
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