Debbie Weil, corporate social media consultant and author of the recently updated The Corporate Blogging Book (now on my Kindle), tweeted this on Monday:
9 years since my 1st article about blogging on Aug. 22, 2001: To Blog or Not to Blog http://bit.ly/cgL88M Yr thots on what has changed – ?
Weil was prescient with her 2001 ClickZ article To Blog or Not to Blog… That’s a Good Question. She not only saw blogs as potent corporate marketing tools but saw the possibility of them being used by executives:
So how does this translate to your email marketing program? If your objective is customer retention and you are sending an e-newsletter to your house list, you could easily include a link to your CEO’s blog — or a blog by another executive in your company who has a keen wit, writes with style, and has something to say.
In 2006, Weil wrote in her book:
Ideally, the blog attaches a voice to the company through the words and style of the executive writing it. A legitimate question to ask, however, is this: Is a CEO blog "the" voice of the company? What about employee blogs? Perhaps it’s better to say that a CEO blog can help tell the story of the company. The story you want customers and the media to listen to. It’s a subtle difference, but it touches on one of the most oft touted reasons for a large corporation to blog–giving the company a human voice.
Yesterday, Jennifer Van Grove, Associate Editor at Mashable, published an article titled How CEOs Will Use Social Media in the Future.
Van Grove quotes from last May’s Mashable interview with Forrester CEO George Colony titled Should CEOs Be Fluent in Social Media? about how few top executives use social media, noting that "social media abstinence even appears to extend to CEOs of tech companies."
She brings in the age and attitude factor (which Colony raised as well):
When it comes to CEOs, there’s a vast disparity between the young ones heading up startups and the more seasoned CEOs running the world’s most powerful companies. That disparity is social media — the young are more versed than the old. The difference between the two groups can be attributed to different generations and different attitudes around content and information meant for the public and private domains.
But she fails to mention that in that interview, as well as on Colony’s blog here, that he also notes that the CEO’s of social media companies are less than avid social media users:
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is active on his platform but doesn’t blog and infrequently visits Twitter. Evan Williams of Twitter Tweets several times per day and blogs, but hasn’t posted in 2010. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn uses Twitter several times per week and posts to the LinkedIn corporate blog. Mike Jones, co-CEO of MySpace is on Twitter several times per week and has a blog (though no posts this year).
I don’t know the ages of Weiner and Jones but Williams is 30-something and Zuckerberg is 20-something. These guys are not only extremely versed in social media but Williams (Blogger and Twitter) and Zuckerberg (Facebook) were among the creators of it.
So it doesn’t seem, as Van Grove asserts, that lack of executive blogging/social media use is solely because of "different generations and different attitudes around content and information."
I’d argue that it’s because executives of all generations have not considered how these technologies can be used as leadership tools. They only see them as marketing/public relations tools and once a company gets to a certain size, few CEO’s engage directly in PR on a daily basis.
Van Grove lauds the tweeting of Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman but he doesn’t appear to blog and I seriously doubt that he spends much time reading or personally responding to the tweets of his 38,000+ followers. As I blogged last month, the social networking part of social media is a problem for most executives.
Van Grove asks Edelman Digital’s Senior VP Steve Rubel what he thinks the use of social media will be by executives in the future:
While bullish on CEOs making organizational changes to better incorporate social media, Rubel does not see reason to predict a huge uptick in social media broadcasting from the CEOs themselves. “I see CEOs more laying the groundwork in vision and process than necessarily participating actively themselves,” asserts Rubel.
That’s because Rubel sees the world of social media through the lens of public relations. Others, like that geezer CEO Paul Levy, see it through the lens of leadership.
Debbie Weil saw that a blog could give an organization a human voice. We now need executives to see that a blog can help them lead an organization with human voice.