Tips for getting your CEO on social media

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In a world where social media campaigns like #Wakeupcall and Ice Bucket Challenge can raise thousands of pounds and change countless lives, being a social savvy charity leader has never been more important. Matt Collins, co-founder of the Social CEO Awards, offers top tips for getting your CEO to engage in social media.


Emotional barriers

One of the biggest reasons Zoe Amar and I started the awards is to help overcome arguably the biggest barrier to more chief executives and leading lights in the sector getting stuck into social media. The barrier isn’t a lack of skills though – after all, if you can run an entire charity, you can surely click the button marked ‘Tweet’!

No, the biggest barrier is an emotional one. ‘Who am I to make public pronouncements on what I believe?’. ‘Who would be interested?’. ‘Will I annoy people?’. I’ve seen first-hand that these are the thoughts and questions that run through the heads of people who aren’t yet on social media but who want to be.

If your CEO is reluctant, find out what emotional reasons they have for not being on social media and then help them to overcome those fears or trepidation. If it is about a lack of digital skills, ask someone in your digital team to offer a one-to-one training session or look at external training or courses.

Leadership is about leading

Zoe and I genuinely believe that charities whose leaders are enthusiastic tweeters themselves find great digital work easier at all levels. Julie Bentley of Girlguiding, one of 2013’s winners, leads the charity with a fun and award winning approach to digital. I bet this is no coincidence.

What’s more, a charity whose CEO walks the digital walk as well as talking the talk immediately gives credibility to their digital team’s work. This creates a culture that’s ready to take advantage of #WakeUpCall, Ice Bucket Challenge or whatever the next big fundraising meme may be.

Just look at the fundraising activities personally undertaken by one of the 2013 winners, Mark Flannagan of Beating Bowel Cancer for his charity. This leadership shows personal commitment to fundraising in general, commitment that no doubt spreads throughout their organisations. And of course it’s wonderful for the charity’s supporters to see for themselves that dedication.

Show your CEO examples of other CEOs using social media to help them understand the benefits or encourage them to contact those CEOs directly so that they can talk through their concerns and hear first-hand about the value of being on social media.

People give to people, not causes

Another huge benefit of social CEOs are the role that they themselves, with their own personal qualities, play in gaining support for hugely important causes. People give to people, so it’s as understandable as it is undeniable that many of us give to the person first and cause second.

Take a look at what Stephen Sutton did for Teenage Cancer Trust via Stephen’s Story. You would be hard pushed to find a more positive, motivating and inspiring man than Stephen, and we all truly connected with his values and him as a person. Because of Stephen thousands donated millions of pounds to the Teenage Cancer Trust, supporting many other young people affected by cancer.

CEOs have huge potential to further the cause. They can use their personality to connect with donors, supporters and perhaps even celebrities on social media, one at a time, and bring them into the fold of their particular cause.

Show your CEO how it’s possible, through social media, to have direct access to your charity’s supporters and ultimately how engaging with them can have an amazing impact – such as when Macmillan’s CEO Ciarán Devane took part in #nomakeupselfie.

The top 30 Social CEOs will be announced on Thursday 6 November at an Awards ceremony hosted by Girlguiding and in association with Grant Thornton.


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Matt Collins is managing director at digital marketing agency, Platypus Digital, and tweets @charitychap