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A View from the Top

Sparkle photo for Blog 09 12 11

Is your CEO active online? If not, he or she should be. Authentic communication from the top of the organization is rapidly becoming a requirement, not a nice-to-have feature. Employees and customers want to hear from corporate leaders, whether that’s by following their Twitter stream or reading their personal or company blog. CEO blogs – even if they’re authored by other people – are increasingly important in a world where decisions are made in groups and buying decisions are influenced by online interactions. Arguments such as “Our CEO doesn’t have enough time” or “All content needs legal approval prior to being posted” no longer fly in today’s transparent business climate. And, with the rapid rate of change, even organizations with well-defined social media policies should allow for appropriate caveats.

Besides being swamped, CEOs tend to be most interested in those initiatives that contribute to the bottom line. As social mediums continue to mature, tracking and analyzing social content can deliver up-to-the-minute feedback on a brand or company reputation, allowing CEOs to see exactly how social media influences product development and corporate strategy and strengthens customer relationships. But, organizations that dig their heels or wait for legal to approve every single tweet, blog post, or comment will never be able to execute a successful social media strategy.

Delivering fresh content from the company’s leaders benefits an organization in multiple ways. CEOs that share the company vision in an authentic and real way can increase customer engagement and attract high-quality talent to the organization. Content written by high-profile members of the organization can help put company-sponsored information on the first page of search results, as Google and other major search engines continuously “crawl” for new content. CEO blogs can also demonstrate thought leadership, increase credibility and showcase the capabilities of the company – all elements that not only look good from the customer’s perspective, but also help keep employees engaged and in tune with their own organization.

Conversing in the digital arena is a powerful tool for telling the company story and driving brand engagement. But, for those worried about giving away trade secrets or freaking out their legal counsel, take a look how some CEOs have made blogging work: 

Showcase a human side. David Kirchhoff, Weight Watchers International’s CEO blogs at Man Meets Scale. He lets readers know that the blog contains his personal views on weight loss and fitness, and not necessarily his perspective as a company employee. Yet, the blog taps into the vital components of successful business: making emotional connections, demonstrating an understanding of the customer’s pain points and offering solutions.

Communicate company progress. Blogs don’t have to reveal sensitive information, but they can provide customers with insight into new developments or strides the company is making to deliver better products or service. Comstock Mining’s CEO uses blogging to answer customer inquiries and provide status updates on company initiatives.

Connect with colleagues. Forrester’s George Colony uses his blog to share opinions and analysis on events of interest to other CEOs. High-level networking can help executives share experiences, fine-tune strategies, stimulate innovation and drive competition.

One key, no matter what your approach: understand that executive time is valuable and should be used on moving the needles that matter – whether it’s customer engagement, bottom-line sales or other metrics. Rather than a general approach to blogging, start out with an analysis of what you’d like to accomplish and build an editorial calendar based on your CEO’s pet projects and topics. With the right infrastructure in place, blogging can be systematic, achievable and increase interaction and loyalty with business stakeholders.