Undeniably, being a young CEO has its pros and cons. From a practical standpoint, the earlier one can snag a rung on the corporate ladder, the faster he or she can begin to make money to invest in the future. However, from a observational standpoint, being younger than other CEOs can make a person feel like an outcast at meetings, events, conferences and sales calls. Certainly, the key is to project confidence in whatever you do if you’re a CEO under 40 – or even 30 – but there’s a little more to consider, especially in the era of social media.
Younger CEOs are more likely to be comfortable with the social media platforms of the day, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Chances are pretty good that they’ve already set up personal accounts, and perhaps have some that are available for public consumption. While this can be a boon, it can also create some challenges. As we’ve all learned throughout the years, social media is tricky to navigate if you don’t have a strategy. This is particularly important to remember for anyone in a “top dog” spot.
Consequently, it’s critical for every young CEO to keep the five following social media related factors in mind:
1. Manage Your Social Media Persona Wisely
There isn’t a reason in the world that a CEO can’t “go public” on Twitter or Facebook. However, he or she should never do so without a plan in mind. First, it’s critical to know the audience you’re trying to engage. Is it other CEOs? Is it current customers? Is it a specific population? The answers to these questions will drive what is published on the social media platform.
Secondly, every CEO, regardless of age, should “sit” on Tweets and posts for at least 10 minutes before hitting the “Publish” button. Sometimes, it can be tempting to say something out of anger or another emotion, but it’s never wise. Remember: The media loves to take a rogue tweet and run with it.
2. Don’t Mix Politics With Social Media
It’s one thing to root for your team at the Olympics on your Facebook page. It’s another thing to air your political leanings, unless that’s what drives your company. Keep your politics for your personal life, and stay away from politics on your wall.
3. Update Naturally and Regularly
Too many executives fall into the notion that they need to automate everything they send out, and that leaves their social media pages sounding flat and robotic. Though there’s nothing wrong with having another person in the company tweeting or posting on your behalf, get in there and do it yourself once in a while. You can even add some personality to the mix; just keep it light and airy.
For instance, if your family just got a puppy, you can tweet about how nice it is to come home to a furry friend. Or if your assistant just celebrated her 15th wedding anniversary, give her a shout out. It makes the CEO seem real and not some remote, unfeeling corporate bigwig.
4. Don’t Brag…Too Much
It’s fine to tweet that you’ve been asked to become the keynote speaker at a really huge conference this year. Yet you don’t want to brag too much or you’ll be seen as some kind of a egoist with a head as large as the sun.
Yes, you want to talk about how well you and your award-winning pressure washing company are doing, but it’s a fine line between sounding pompous and sounding enthusiastic. Boasting about how great your company is turns people off; boasting about how great customers are for making you the pressure washing specialists in your area sounds positive.
If you have trouble walking the line, ask a trusted colleague to review all social media posts for clarity and tone before they go out.
5. Be Responsive to Supporters and Critics
It can be incredibly tough to listen to critical tweets and posts. It can be even more difficult to write back to those people in a way that isn’t condescending, particularly when they write scathing things. However, as a CEO – even a young CEO – it’s up to you to show good sense when it comes to taking criticisms.
While not every critic deserves a response, some definitely do. Start conversations, say “thank you” to customers and show compassion without giving too much ground. It will make you look very even-keeled, and will disarm most detractors.
The Big Picture
CEOs of the past might not be willing to embrace the social media world, but it’s a new dawn. The CEO of tomorrow will have to know his or her way around Instagram and Google+, and there’s no time like the present to start on that journey.
Courtney Gordner is a passionate blogger, freelance writer and career driven young woman. Follow her on Google+, Twitter and TalkViral.com to read more of her latest posts.
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