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Social Media In the C-Suite

C-Suite denizens have had difficulties warming up to social media.  Most are used to being, if not the entire conversation, at least in charge of what's said, when and to whom.  Social media's democratizing effect threatens that neatly-ordered world.

And it's humbling to learn that your thoughts and opinions aren't crystalline, brilliant or even very persuasive.  Readers talk back, using adjectives like idiotic and clueless, sometimes alone or in very creative combinations.  (Happens to me all the time, in case you're wondering.)

A critical (though common) misperception is that social media is about "Me talk.  You listen.  Me talk more.  You do what I say!"  That never worked with my daughters and I doubt it'll work for many hospital CEOs.

In "Social Media in the C-Suite: Listening, Learning and Creating a  Strategy from the Top Down" Knowledge @ Wharton interviews author Michael Lewis about the opportunities and pitfalls in implementing a social media strategy in the C-suite.

Says Lewis:
"...most people misinterpret what social media's about. They use it as a talking vehicle. Social media is a listening vehicle. It's both. But most people don't understand that the real power is to be able to listen to the customer in a real time and effective way."
[...]
"It (starts) with listening and evangelizing throughout the organization. And enabling (active participation) in social media. And gearing up for the fact that the world is changing at a rapid rate right now. And it affects every business, as Eric said, every aspect of the business. That's not easy, to re-imagine your entire organization in the time frames that social media will affect it. But look, social media can topple governments. It's going to affect your business."
There it is:  "Social media can topple governments.  It's going to affect your business."  

I'd change that last sentence to read "It's affecting your business, right now, today."  Your job, dear C-suiter, is to screw up your courage, don some adult underwear, join the conversation and turn it to your competitive advantage.

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