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The Quick-Start Guide To Social Media For Time-Strapped Execs

Source | FastCompany : BY RYAN HOLMES

Last month, I wrote an article here at Fast Company pointing out that more than half of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence whatsoever, which means they’re leaving on the table a huge opportunity to connect with customers and employees. That article was shared more than 4,000 times on social media in the first 48 hours. My own Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook streams have exploded with thousands of comments on the subject. I understood the scope of the problem (it’s why I wrote the story), but I’ve been really surprised at the interest there appears to be in fixing it.

Since then, I’ve had a chance to talk with the heads of companies with thousands (and tens of thousands) of employees, and I’ve heard the same refrain: “Listen, I want to get on social media, but I don’t have the time and don’t know how to get started.” I realized that I’d explained the “why” of social media for C-level executives, but not the “how.”

For CEOs, social media presents special challenges: Time is limited, the stakes are high, and the array of options can be paralyzing. I’ve experienced all of this firsthand as CEO of Hootsuite. With that in mind, here’s a quick, no-nonsense guide—made up of the same steps that I’ve taken to build my own million-strong following across the leading social platforms.


You’re strapped for time as it is, so how are you supposed to manage a social media account, let alone several? While the personal touch is key in social media, it’s simply unrealistic for most execs to manage their own accounts 100% of the time. The truth is that very few of even the most social CEOs engage without a team or even just one person behind them. This can be a specialized social agency or a member of your marketing or PR squads. (Just don’t leave your voice in the hands of an intern.)

Bringing on support staff doesn’t consign you to sending pointless, canned messages. Instead, it can free you up to focus focus on injecting your own insight and personality—maximizing the return on your time investment, however limited that may be. I can’t emphasize this enough: The right support will make this entire process easier, from strategizing on what to post to ensuring that all content is safe and compliant.


Before sending out your first tweet, know your objective. In simplest form, this means thinking about what audience you want to reach and what change you want to provoke, whether that’s raising awareness among customers or boosting engagement with employees. Equally important is understanding what you want to share. Your team will help crystallize this, but the most effective social CEOs offer a window into their world—their company, passions, hobbies, etc.

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