I did an interview with Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) about CEOs and C-Level executives on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other online communities. The interview was ages ago, but it’s just been published.

The Pros and Cons of Networking Sites:aicd

  1. 1. be honest, be yourself, limit how much your secretary does. (speaking a blog post into a dictaphone to be typed up is one thing, having your whole facebook or linkedin profile updated by someone else is not).
  2. be aware of the Invisible Audience. It’s too easy to assume that everyone else is as time poor as you are. That’s not true, and you have more readers/observers than you realise.
  3. Remember at all times the friend of a friend rule, whether in a social or business network. Connecting to your children’s schoolteacher is one thing. Finding out he or she is married to a journalist or a politician or the CEO of a competitor company may change your behaviour online somewhat.
  4. remember that it is a friend of a friend that brings interesting situations. (the outer data points). Interesting can be interpreted in many ways. If you stay within only your ‘comfort circle’ of acquaintances,  you may find an echo chamber of support but little in the way of new ideas, new contacts, new business.
  5. Most directors are used to socializing outside of the office with colleagues and peers as well as personal friends. Understand that for the connected social networker, this wall between personal and business life continues to come down, as they check Facebook and LinkedIn for both personal and business reasons, at work, at their desk, on the laptop in front of the television and on their mobile phone on a Sunday. The 9-5 lifestyle, always endangered is now extinct.
  6. Acknowledge your limitations. Social media behaviour guidelines for your organisation should have a statement for all staff along the lines of “when I participate in social media sites, I will acknowledge where relevant that I work for an interested party and I will not attempt to answer questions that I am not equipped to answer.” Amazingly, some CEOs and directors will fall into this trap in a ‘social network’ whereas they would never attempt to answer such questions in say, a press conference.
  7. Take social media advice from the right people. For example, don’t take advice on blogging from non-bloggers. Use PR ppl you trust, and who understand what you are trying to do. Don’t listen to lawyers. No matter how many sandwiches they give you – it’s their job to say NO to social media communication.
  8. If you are on an open social network – a blog, YouTube corporate channel or forum – continually saying ‘thanks I’ll pass it on’ becomes tiring to both you and the network. Consider asking a customer service rep to connect on the open network so that they can answer specific technical or business questions, and leaves you free to communicate corporate strategy to the community. If you are on a ‘gated community’ network (where you authorise, the connection with that person) such as Facebook or LinkedIn, it should not be an issue, as you can cheerily de-authorise annoying connections.

I won’t reprint the whole thing (about 3 pages), but above are the points I sent through to AICD. They only published 7 of ’em I think. Ah well, you get the idea of what the scope was like. Pretty good article, and important I think, to get through to top management.