Social Media for C-Suite? Get on your ESN first!

I've been reading a lot of marketing stuff recently about "social" CEOs. You know - Branson and others who use Twitter and Facebook to promote their brands. (Although no-one ever mentions whether they personally use these accounts or have teams of social media PR people writing for them).

I get it - having your leadership talk up your company and products is a great thing. It can show authenticity, passion and help to build social "proof" of your products or services. And it's no surprise or coincidence that the top social CEOs also run some of the most successful companies (e.g. see http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-what-the-worlds-top-50-ceos-do-on-social-media-2015-06-05)

However, when I read about the reluctance of many c-suite execs (or anyone else for that matter) to use social media in a genuine way, the answer of the marketing and PR industry is to just "do it" (and pay armies of consultants to help).

They are missing a step and a crucial practice ground - the corporate Enterprise Social Network (ESN). If you can't or won't model successful social behaviours with your own employees, why would you talk to your consumers/customers? If you can't be [open, transparent, authentic, accountable, conversational] on internal social media, you should not be on external social media.

Above all things, an ESN is a learning platform. Use it to learn and see what works or doesn't work. Work out loud.

If you believe in scaffolded learning, the internal ESN is a safe practice place where you can build your social media knowledge and practice, practice, practice. Above all things, an ESN is a learning platform. Use it to learn and see what works or doesn't work. Work out loud. Ignore the marketing/PR stuff for now and connect with your company first.