Social media can be a startup’s “biggest competitive advantage” and knowing how to use it is a serious skill all chief executives and business leaders should have, according to Hootsuite founder Ryan Holmes.
Speaking to Tech in Asia, Holmes said social media today is where email was in the early 2000s, but many business leaders are yet to realise this.
“A lot of CEOs just want their social media teams to take care of social media,” Holmes says.
Hootsuite is one of Canada’s fastest growing tech companies. Since launching in 2008, the social media scheduling giant has raised nearly $US250 million ($326 million), according to Crunchbase.
Holmes, who has been a serial entrepreneur since the age of 16, has plans to break into new markets and grow Hootsuite’s Australian and Singaporean teams by 40%. He is also about to release his own book: The 4 Billion Dollar Tweet.
“Social media managers, community managers, online marketing managers — these people understand where the customer relationship lives,” says Holmes.
This is one of the core reasons, he believes, business leaders need to also understand and be comfortable with social platforms.
“My question to leaders [is] if somebody like Donald Trump or somebody influential tweets about your company today, have you built up the DNA, do you know how to use this medium and this technology, or are going to get caught flat-footed?” says Holmes.
“Directors who assess reputation risks are not doing their responsibilities if they do not understand [the importance of] this communication media … In social media, if you are not there, your competitors are going to be there and they are going to be eating your lunch.”
While this may seem daunting and it is even “scaring big businesses”, Holmes says, socially savvy startups will have the upper hand.
“Startups need to understand social media, as it is their biggest competitive advantage. If they understand how to use it, deploy it, and engage customers with it, they stand to disrupt every big business out there,” he says.