1. Do I really need to be on social media?
You don’t have to, but here’s why it’s a smart move: When a leader has an active presence on social media it shows the world (and your customers, board, stakeholders, and employees) that you’re not only listening but that you are willing to “open the books” – so to speak – on how you operate. It also indicates you aren’t stuck in your old ways — you’re comfortable with change and can be a player in the new high-tech world we live in. Plus, like nothing else, social media gives you a platform to be an advocate for your industry through your comments, posts, tweets, “likes,” and shares.
PRO TIP: Make it your policy that you don’t “friend” employees (or accept their requests) on your personal Facebook account. That way, it doesn’t get too personal if someone reaches out to you through Facebook. Since it’s unavoidable on Twitter, just watch what you say.
2. Should my profile name be my name or the name of my company/organization?
In most cases, you’ll have two accounts for each platform: one for you and one for your brand/organization. But remember, even with your “personal” account, you are still representing your company so keep posts professional and on-brand. (Don’t worry — that doesn’t have to mean “boring.”)
PRO TIP: Profile names should be as close to your name as possible because that’s what will appear in the social media post. After all, you may not be in your role at the organization forever, but you’ll always have your name. You can always add your organization’s profile name, handle, or website to the bio section on your page to link you to your organization. Skip the numbers or an unusual combination of letters. The closer you are to your name on the handle the better.
3. What voice should I use?
Your own! The best posts feel authentic and human — not like they came from a robot or were focus-grouped to death. The goal is always to be as transparent in your communications as possible without divulging proprietary or sensitive information. So, approach social sites as you would a dinner party. Politics and religion have no place at the table, but no one wants to sit next to the boring guy either. In other words, yes to witty comments, no to off-color jokes. And if you are unsure if something you write will be taken the wrong way, rest assured: It will. Don’t risk it.
PRO TIP: You don’t want your whole company to have access to the company Twitter, FB, etc. account, but it’s okay to have a few administrators to lessen the burden of daily posting. Just be sure you are all writing in the same voice.
4. What if I write and publish a regrettable tweet or post?
It happens. First, edit or delete. Tweets and posts do live forever if someone screen grabs it, but deleting early helps. Never say you were hacked. No one will believe you, and then you’ll be offensive and a liar and you may never recover from the reputational hit (Anthony Weiner). No one, and I mean no one, will buy it. Just apologize, move on, and try to learn from your mistake. People are surprisingly forgiving when they sense you are genuinely repentant.
PRO TIP: Be mindful of your comments, even when you are posting from your private account. Your “friend” may not have the same privacy settings as you so it’s best to assume whatever you post will be public.