How Caribbean CEOs can Be Better at Social Media. Their business depends on it.

How Caribbean CEOs can Be Better at Social Media. Their business depends on it.

Just a few weeks ago On August 17, Athletics history was made at the Rio Olympics when a Jamaican, for the first time, won the Men’s 110m hurdles. Here’s what happened next

On the heels of another Olympic Gold medal for Jamaica, due to the stunning performance of 110M Hurdles Champion Omar McLeod, Jamaican Twitter was buzzing with euphoria. In the midst of that, the Jamaica Gleaner tweeted, asking its followers this question: if you could write the next day’s headline on this win, what would it be? It seems the Social Media handler at Lasco Jamaica, decided that the appropriate response was “Goldfish.” For my Caribbean and International readers, in Jamaica, the homophobic minority refers to gay men using the name “fish.” It is meant to be an insult. Hence why the term tweeted by the @LascoJamaica account giving McLeod the title “Gold.Fish” was in fact, saying he was an Olympic Gold winning gay man.

I wrote a blog post Top 2 Lessons Caribbean Brands can Learn from the Lasco Jamaica Twitter Misstep (but I think any brand) can learn for this debacle.

Here’s the Instant Messenger conversation that followed between myself and Marguerite Orane a Leadership and Strategy Facilitator and Coach that followed after this. She has published this exchange over at her company blog as well – the title is  How 1 tweet can destroy decades of an entrepreneur’s work – and what the CEO must do to avoid this”

 

MARGUERITE:

Ingrid, I really loved your blog. I would add 2 things – CEOs and senior leadership need to learn about SM (Social Media) and be active on it. It’s too important to shunt down the organizational ladder. And HR needs to fix recruiting policies so that they hire people not just on paper competences but also on values that are aligned with the organization. They can’t afford to leave all the digital org. capital to their marketing people – they need to understand it from personal experience.

INGRID:

I agree and CEOs also need to do the following.

  1. Seek to get educated on the fundamentals, either through online courses or at local and overseas events and also via the books I recommended in the same blog (click to view article)
  2. They need to go on all of the platforms to explore and learn how to use them and observe how other people are using them.
  3. They also need to establish themselves on LinkedIn with a full and professionally done profile.
MARGUERITE:

Only LinkedIn? Shouldn’t they be on the one that is best suited to their company strategy? E.g. If their business is in consumer products and heavily on Facebook/Twitter, shouldn’t the CEO also have a presence? At the least to learn and keep abreast?

INGRID:

LinkedIn because it’s the world’s business and professional network. They and their business should be on it. Secondly, yes the CEO should have a presence on the platforms in which his/her brands are that should be a standard. It’s an opportunity again to listen in and gain fresh insights on what consumers are thinking and doing. There has never been a time where brands and consumers have been so close, so CEOs should take full advantage of that.

MARGUERITE:

How would they know which platform is best for their business? There are so many out there.

INGRID:

Everything starts with the WHY. Companies have to ask themselves what do they want out of going social. What do they want to achieve and what are they prepared to be and do to achieve that. Further, their company must be on the platforms that match who and where their customers are now. That may be Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram or even on email and WhatsApp. It really comes down to the customer: they have the power now and have a world of choices before them. How you approach developing a relationship with them will determine your success.

MARGUERITE:

Kind of sounds like the types of issues I address when helping them with their business strategy! So is that what a Digital Strategist does? Honestly? I think many people would just want to figure it out themselves.

INGRID:

When we come down to defining exactly what I as a Digital Strategist does, it’s this:
I help to connect the dots between the needs, wants, and desires of the customer and those often illusive business, brand, and marketing goals.

I bring the wide and deep exposure and understanding of all sorts of different info, data, digital platforms, products, services plus the trends and how to leverage them to help the business achieve its goals through Digital Marketing, which of course is different to “traditional” marketing. Then I create what we call in my company a Digital Strategy Blueprint -that details the why, how and what a brand has to do now, to win with their customers and outrun their customers using Digital Marketing.

To sum it all up, I help people make sense of and get excited about the Digital Age and take full advantage of its opportunities, to become Digital Rockstars.

MARGUERITE:

OK. I am getting it. I see the link between organizational strategy and digital strategy. But how does a CEO make the link between digital strategy and his/her own personal social presence?

INGRID:

Hence why I said – first establish their own professional presence on LinkedIn first. Then go on all platforms to listen, observe and learn. They can start by doing this one thing – start by searching for their own name, their company name, their products, their tag line – and those of their competitors too and see if anyone is talking about them or their brands. Use the search function on all platforms to do this or use Google search to set up Google Alerts. And also it helps to read some of the top case studies of how other businesses around the world have been using Digital and Social to win big in the marketplace.

MARGUERITE:

That makes sense. Working with CEOs (and having been one) I do know that they are stressed for time, and will be wondering “Another thing for me to do?” So is this something they have to commit to for the long term? How much time do you think they will have to devote to this each week or even day?

INGRID:

Does the CEO and his/her company want to be around in the next couple of years? Being a social business, a digital business is not a choice anymore. This is not a fad your daughter or nephew is wasting time on. We are living, working and doing business in the Digital Era, it’s not going away and we’re just at the beginning of its true impact – locally and globally. In fact there is nothing new happening here, it’s a simple thing – go where your customers’ attention is. It’s just an evolution, like radio had to give way to TV and businesses adjusted. Then TV in the traditional sense has given way to the Internet and mobile. Business and their CEOs must learn that the game is now about adjusting. If they don’t, they are going to become irrelevant and invisible really quick!

MARGUERITE:

So what I hear is that they have to personally spend some time, even a few minutes every day, on their social media. This is really sounding like work, but it’s important, strategic work.

INGRID:

Yep! This is not a chore that one has to contend with, it’s a matter of do you want to grow and still be making money in the future. If the answer is yes, then commit the time and resources to adjust and position yourself and your company to win with customers and beat your competitors.

MARGUERITE:

Interesting times Ingrid. What I am getting from you is that this is a must-do for CEOs and probably for all senior execs as well. Otherwise, all their years of hard work could easily be dissolved in less than 140 characters. Scary. I think I will have to check in with my CEO clients to see what their social media presence is!

INGRID

Yep! And Do let me know what you find.