Social Media Secrets That All CIOs Need To Know

Getting the most out of social media can require help from the CIO
Getting the most out of social media can require help from the CIO
Image Credit: Sean MacEntee

I’m thinking that by now we can all agree that social media is important. However, how to go about using it correctly is a bit of a mystery. Every company wants to make the most of the free service that each of the different social media channels offers, but the challenge is that they are not 100% exactly how to go about doing this. In a lot of firms, this is where, because of the importance of information technology, the person with the CIO job can step in and lend some help. No, you don’t have to become the social media manager, but you do need to provide the company with some advice.

One Message Does Not Fit All Channels

One of the biggest mistakes that I see firms making is that they identify what they want to say via their social media channels and then they broadcast the same message out across each of different social media platforms. This is a big mistake. What they are not realizing is that each social media channel really has a different personality and so what you have to do is tailor your message to fit the channel.

A great example of this are the social media channels Instagram and Snapchat. On the surface, both of these sites seem to be pretty similar: they provide a way for the user to post a picture. That’s where the similarities end. Instagram has a reputation of being a slick, high-end site. The pictures that get posted here are glossy good looking, posed photos. Snapchat on the other hand has more of a raw image where it’s more like the kind of photos that you’d send to one of your friends. As the CIO, you need to help your company to identify which of their messages is best suited to the more formal Instagram and which would work better on Snapchat.

You Can’t Disappear

As a person who runs a mildly successful blog I can confirm this bit of advise. Once your company ventures into the waters of social media, there really is no going back. What this means is that once you start posting company content, you need to keep it up. The one thing that you don’t want to do is suddenly vanish for a week, a month, or even longer. Starting to generate social media content is a commitment and the company needs to stick with it.

If your company chooses to use Instagram to communicate with its customers, they should understand that the average brand posts 38 times per month. If you choose to use Pinterest, then you are signing up to post up to five times per day. This is in contrast to Twitter tweets that can be done just a couple of times each day.

Know Who Your Followers Are

It can be all too easy to view social media as being a one way street – you are sharing information with your followers and you really don’t care what they have to say. This is the wrong thing to do. You need to understand that you need to take the time to cultivate the people who are willing to follow you.

What this really comes down to is that you need to validate your followers with things like likes, comments, and retweets. By doing this you will be building goodwill with the people who are making your social media efforts worthwhile. This also means that the rest of the company is going to need the CIOs help in discovering how to search the web for tweets and blog posts that talk about your company’s brands. When you find them, you need to respond to them, retweet them, or at least generously repost them. Depending on the business that you are in, if you have an opportunity to showcase the work that your followers do with your products or in your area, then by all means do it!.

What All Of This Means For You

Social media can be a tricky beast to manage well. It sure seems easy to get involved in because it is free. However, when your company decides to become involved in social media, it may be time for the CIO to jump in and lend a helping hand because the rest of the company may not know how this all works.

The first thing that you’ll have to teach them is that not all social media platforms are created the same. What this means is that the company is going to have to carefully tailor its message to meet the unique needs of each social media channel. Once the company starts to have a social media presence it has to keep at it. The company can not vanish. You’ll develop a core group of followers and they are not going to put up with you going quiet for a week, a month, or longer. Finally, you have to take the time and recognize the people who are taking the time to follow your social media activities. You can do this by commenting on what they have to say, retweeing what they write, and liking them.

Social media is huge and is only getting bigger. Every company needs to have created some sort of social media plan for how they are going to connect with their audience. The person in the CIO position is going to play a big role in making this a success. It’s time to get your social media hat on!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How much time during a given day do you think that a CIO should dedicate to social media issues?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Ah, the burdens of leadership rest heavily on your shoulders. As the person with the CIO job, it’s your responsibility to collect all of the available data, process it, and then make the best decisions that you can. With a little luck, your decisions will be the right ones most of the time based on the importance of information technology. However, maybe there’s a different way to go about doing things. In most IT departments, you are the king – what you say is what gets done. A different approach is to open things up and create more of a democracy and allow your staff to vote on key initiatives and changes. Do you think that this would make things better or more confusing?

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