Management Social Media

Managers on social networks

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Alice Brehaut
Written by Alice Brehaut

Are managers present enough on social networks?

The use of social networks is now widespread: 60 % of employees and 50% of the executives have a connection at least once a day. More and more companies are now connect through social networks. Facebook is the network in which most companies feature, as it allows them to build a closer relationship with their customers. But let’s have a closer look at the question of the presence of executive managers on social networks.

All over the world, CEOs are more and more active on social networks. Not all the social Networks are used, for instance, according to Weber Shandwick agency, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most popular for the CEO. Website are still the main communication canal for the CEO.

According to a study by CEO.com, only 32% of top CEOs have at least one account on a social network, some 68% have no presence at all.

This issue of the digital reluctance of the managers is a worldwide one. In France the figures are not very bright as only 13 out of the managers of the leading companies quoted in the stock exchange (the CAC 40) have a Twitter account. For the companies that are not quoted the figures are rather similar as only 12% of the managers use a social network and among them 7% use Twitter on a professional basis.

Managers should be able to take advantage of the exchanges promoted by social networks to spot the different talents in their team and the employees’ potential. The employees’ online profiles, their exchanges within given circles offer tremendous opportunities. For instance you may discover by reading an online profile that one of your employees lived in Japan for 10 years, precisely when you are about to enter a negociation with a Japanese customer!

With or without the help of the social networks, the role of the manager is to articulate the needs of his company and those of his team. He must help his collaborators develop their potentials fully, in terms of competence as well as professional fulfillment, and this is both in their interest and in the interest of the company!

Angies+1 and Occurrence, independent counseling firms specialized in communication evaluation have run a survey with around 140 communication managers in order to get a clearer picture of the different ways in which they use the social networks. 10 majors points have emerged:

1) Maturity (Preparation)

They acknowledge the strategic importance of social networks but consider themselves insufficiently prepared to use them.

2) The public

The first target is the general public, but clearly social networks are a tool to reach different types of audience, with particular relevance in the case of journalists (51%) or even in finance (17%). In many situations it is only the beginning: for instance in resource administration, networks are used only in one case out of 4. The public sector and institutions are still focused on a rather narrow conception of communication, in the form either of direct communication with their users only, or internal communication between services.

3) Themes

The 3 issues tackled most often by the companies on the social networks are:  the expression of a concern about one’s responsibility in a broad sense (in civil matters, 62%); communication about products and brands (60%) and innovation (50%).

4) The tools

Facebook and Twitter are the most widely used of networks but other networks like LinkedIn are gaining ground.

5) Postures

More than one out of three organizations present on social networks keeps clear of the “chatting” style of exchange.

6) Monitoring

It is rather surprising to note that about 1 organization out of 4 has absolutely no monitoring activity on the web, either to check its reputation or in terms of technological development. And yet monitoring is clearly an essential strategic tool.

7) Ambassadors

A new strategy is to use collaborators as “ambassadors” of the company, using social networks to put across positive messages about the company. This practice is developing and now concerns 1 organization out of 3. This is a sure sign of a more mature conception of the networks on the part of the companies in question.

8) Managers

Managers are more and more interested in social networks but paradoxically there are very    few organizations able to provide “custom-made” programs to monitor their e-reputation (25%). There are great opportunities to explore there for communication specialists.

9) Crisis

Only 1 organization out of 4 reports that it has encountered a critical situation on the web. But this is a real issue for communication managers; 1 out of 3 completely reorganized its methods in order to anticipate a crisis, and 1 out of 3 considers that such reorganization is necessary.

10) Internal issues

The general feeling is that within companies social networks should be handled with care. They are available in 1 firm out of 3 but on the average the staff is not particularly satisfied with them.

To conclude: even though most companies are now present on the social networks , with Facebook leading with 89% and Twitter(85%) and LinkedIn gaining ground(38%) , many of them (37%) still use them in a restrictive “vertical” way. This is a pity because it goes against what they were designed for, that is to promote easier cross-organizational communication, between the different components of a company.

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About the author

Alice Brehaut

Alice Brehaut

Alice Brehaut is a Marketing, Communication and Digital Assistant at Philips. She is also a student in DBS Master in Grenoble Ecole de Management.