What the Chief Executive needs to know about social media

Below is something I wrote for work. The chief exec is referred to here as she/her because I had our chief exec in mind when I wrote it. If you think I’ve left anything out or disagree with anything, please leave me a comment.

If the chief exec uses no other social media tools, she should invest in:

· Blogs
· Twitter
· LinkedIn

Taken and used in conjunction with one another, these tools can help the chief exec to achieve the following social media objectives:

1. to further develop her online profile;
2. to further develop her online network.

Blogs are a vital tool for anyone whose job it is to convey messages. They are a simple way to keep people informed and up-to-date with your professional activity. A blog can be used to give a human face and voice to an organisation or brand – essential for communicating messages online. A blog allows the author to:

  • assert her authority in her field, and used regularly;
  • help to maintain her (professional) profile and/or build on it online;
  • raise awareness of her current areas of focus, creating opportunities for conversation/collaboration.

See also: Why all non-profits should have a blog – a good one

Twitter is a simple networking tool which works on the sharing of information as currency. It is a public aspect to the chief exec’s profile that enables people to identify and connected with her online. When the chief exec is identifiable on Twitter and using it effectively she and the organisation appears more engaged, transparent and authentic. Not being identifiable on Twitter and using it effectively means a chief exec increasingly runs the risk of appearing out-of-touch or unwilling to present themselves publicly for some reason.

Using Twitter effectively requires time and dedication and doesn’t yield evident results immediately. It can take a while to find your feet and establish a useful network but Twitter becomes more meaningful, the more you use it. In order to develop a meaningful network, the chief exec must be active on Twitter, frequently tweeting links to news and developments in her field – a public demonstration that she is in touch. Other Twitter users will then follow her because she is demonstrating that she’s an authority in her field and her tweets are therefore more credible. When someone contacts the chief exec on Twitter, she should respond publicly where possible, because this demonstrates that she is engaging outside of any professional bubble.

Building a meaningful network on Twitter is a worthwhile investment for when the chief exec has a message to communicate. If she tweets a link to a new blog post, for example, her following will help circulate the message within any other networks that have a stake.

Used effectively, Twitter also offers a personalised filter for information/media – you should follow people who tweet content that makes your Timeline a relevant and useful knowledge-pool, a ‘go-to’ source of information/media, and/or could provide a meaningful answer to a question if you tweeted it.

More blogs about Twitter

LinkedIn is a professional social network that makes it very easy to find and (re)connect with anyone you have had a direct professional connection with. As with Twitter, these people are likely to help spread a message when you have something to communicate.

While there are various things one can do with LinkedIn, a great advantage is it requires minimal time and effort to maintain once your profile is complete. In the very least, LinkedIn ensures you always have a very simple way to contact anyone in your extended professional network, as they do you.

It also provides a standard professional ‘About Me’ webpage and makes your name more searchable, which raises your online profile and creates more opportunities for people to find out about you and your work.


How to make your tweets more relevant for your network

Below is an email I sent to two JRF staff about how to make the content they tweet more relevant for their network. They are working on a research programme entitled Neighbourhood Appoaches to Loneliness.


Just read an article in on the Guardian website entitled Working from home: why I miss the office. There are a couple of things in it about lack of human interaction which, obviously, is relevant for your work. The headline of the article would not necessarily suggest the link is relevant for your network but try lifting these lines from the article and tweet them with a link. So instead of the “standard” way to tweet this article, which probably looks something like this:

Working from home: why I miss the office http://t.co/uyhNLFWA via @guardianwork

 you could tweet:

Lack of human interaction ‘as harmful as never exercising & twice as damaging as being obese’ http://t.co/uyhNLFWA via @guardianwork

 –       or –

 Lack of human interaction can affect health as badly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic http://t.co/uyhNLFWA via @guardianwork

This should make that tweet more retweetable because people don’t even have to click the link and read the article to feel it’s worth sharing – a tweet like this consists of a fully self-contained and self-evident statistic. It’s a pithy little fact that anyone can relate to and on reading, might read actually aloud to a friend or colleague.

Twitter thrives on this! Supplying relevant information like this on Twitter will get you lots more of the right kind of followers because you’re providing a drip-feed of interesting information specific to your area of expertise. Never mind the fact that it’s not your/original content, sharing others’ content in this way will make more people look at your Twitter profile to see who you are. The most relevant people will follow you. You might follow some of those back and thus you are building your professional network online. This network will then help you to spread the word when you do have some original content to share from your work, e.g. a blog or publication.

After doing this, and at the time of writing this blog, Tracey’s tweet was retweeted 36 times and favorited 3 times. She also gained several new followers and was contacted by someone who was doing similar work.

For comparison, Tracey also tweeted at the same time a link to the article in a more “standard” format, i.e. Headline, URL link, via @username. As you can see (below), this got no retweets, replies or favorites at all, and so did nothing (measurable) for her online network.

How to recognize #spam on Twitter and what to do about it

Below are some examples of Spam Direct Messages (DM) on Twitter. Putting these into a presentation for a workshop but thought I’d share here.

There are lots of variations but if you receive a message that looks anything like any of these, do not click the link. Clicking the link will send the same DM to all your followers. I don’t know if it does anything more malicious than this but this alone is enough to unsettle people and undermine confidence in online security.

Spam messages on Twitter are often easy to identify because they appear unusual in tone and subject for the @user it comes from. There’s no need to unfollow the @user, just politely reply point out that you’ve received spam from them and encourage them not to click any links they’re not sure of. When someone shares a link with you via Twitter, it’s because they think it’s worth reading for you particularly. They won’t mind if you reply and ask them to confirm the message and link is genuine.

Don’t trust unmarked links. When you share a link, say what it is and why it’s worth clicking.

If someone points out that they’ve received spam from you, don’t panic. Just do a quick tweet warning your followers that if they recieve an unusual message from you it’s likely to be spam and that they should just delete it.

Lessons from the new official social media guidelines for civil servants

The UK Cabinet Office published Social media guidance for civil servants today and broadly, it looks very progressive. There is also a lot to learn from it for other organisations concerned about social media use by staff. Some of the most interesting points concern trust and restrictions on social media, empowering staff, the role of HR and the purpose of a social media policy, and senior managers as role models for social media use.

“Social media is changing the way government works, and I believe it will have an increasingly important role to play in formulating and delivering government policy” ~ Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service, 4th May 2012

Social media guidance for civil servants explains that technical restrictions on social media access were instated in government offices before the benefits were perceived to outweigh the risks. But, as it acknowledges, ‘social media is likely to become as ubiquitous as email with many more, if not all, staff eventually needing to use it in some form as part of their work.’

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Tweeting while watching TV is one of the easiest ways to assert yourself as a leader in your field

During BBC Panorama 8.30pm-9pm on 23rd May 2012, Elderly Care and #panorama were trending highly on Twitter in the UK, which means more people were using Twitter to talk about this one TV programme than anything else. Panorama is a popular programme so when I heard that last night’s episode was on a hot topic (the failing care system in the UK) I suspected this might happen. 

Since they would have been watching it anyway, we agreed that JRHT‘s Director of Care Services John KennedyJRF‘s Deputy Director of Policy & Research Nancy Kelley and JRF/JRHT Head of Media Abigail Scott Paul would tweet a bit of commentary/analysis/professional-opinion at the same time. I was also watching and retweeting some of their tweets from the corporate JRF account.

The purpose of this is to ensure that the expertise of JRF and JRHT is represented in the conversations taking place on topics we have experience/expertise in. Tweeting during TV programmes is one of the easiest ways to assert JRF and JRHT as leaders in our fields because we know that thousands of other people will also be watching those TV programmes and following the hashtag. I see this as part of JRHT’s commitment to influencing by demonstrating best practice.

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Why all non-profits should have a blog – a good one

Why should you blog? What should you put in a blog? How do you structure a blog? How to get started… 

I came across these notes I made a while ago for a presentation about blogging. Thought they might still be useful to someone.

blog is a revolution in publishing. Before blogging, if an organisation wanted to tell people about the work they did, they’d press release it and send it to journalists who would chop it up and rework it and publish in the press. The organisation has little control over how the information is presented or used.

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