A CEO’s Social Success Model: A Top Down Approach

@Wendy | Strategy

Today, only 56% of CEOs use Web sites and social media for customer relationships although CEO sociability has increased from 36% to 66% between 2010 and 2012. CEOs are finding ways to be social even if they avoid using social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter with 62% of CEOs posting to company websites and 50% posting to company intranets.


For the power of social media to be truly realized, it needs to be adopted and embraced from the top of an organization. There needs to be an understanding of the value it brings to an organization so that a business can be aligned properly.

76% of global executives want their CEOs to be social on both internal and external platforms but the hurdle is a lack of basic understanding of how social can impact and organization and drive results. – Weber Shandwick Identifies the Seven Habits of Highly Social CEOs

There are three important concepts for a CEO to understand before he/she will consider employing a social business strategy and they must be quantified thus aligned with strategic business goals:

  1. Social’s collective power: how social can exponentially fuel brand awareness, advocacy and loyalty when campaigns are integrated.
  2. Social’s ability to reduce costs: how social can transform an organization into a collaborative force that reduces redundancy, the need for antiquated methods of communication and support, traditional high cost advertising.
  3. Social’s ability to create revenue: social’s ability to generate leads, demand and sales including retention.

Understanding the Impact of Social Media

Over the last several years, businesses have increased the pace of adopting social media strategies for use in marketing, sales, recruiting, and customer service but typically these activities operate in silos within the organization without a centralized (brand-centric) strategy.

Without the ability to understand its impact on customer and employee relationships affects the bottom line and this disconnect between social media strategies and business value is forcing many executives to rethink their overall approach and the infrastructure they built to support it. The result of this reflective process is motivating organizations to transform everyday social media initiatives into deeper social business strategies. – Brian Solis, The Gap Between Social Media and Business Impact: 6 Stages of Social Business Transformation

Motivating Factors: Linking Social to Business Outcomes

We’ve found that organization fall into four categories with their social media adoption:

  1. Social is a competitive threat: organizations are dabbling in social but are caught off guard by a competitor who is using social to successfully gain market share.
  2. Social isn’t working: organizations are using social but don’t understand if it’s working or not.
  3. Social has become unweildly: social has proliferated throughout an organization in silos and it has become confusing and there is no way to measure its impact
  4. Social needs to be monetized: organizations are beginning to see levels of engagement around campaigns but don’t know how to quantify the value of their programs sufficient to expand campaign budgets.

These organizations are all actively investing in social media but lack specific intentions or outcomes being tied to business goals that drive tangible business impact. Adopting a holistic approach, where lines of business and business functions work together under a common vision, requires the support and understanding of top executives.

So how do you get a CEOs attention? Once there is a basic level of understanding that social must become a strategic force that aligns an organization, it basically comes down to numbers…

Social Media Top Level Business Case

When you put social’s benefits into universal business terms and assign formulas to calculate their value, it becomes easier for top level executives to not only understand the value of social, but to to realign budgets and resources to support an integrated strategy – because it can be monetized and tracked to operating costs and revenue.

Collective Power

  • Customer Satisfaction Scores
  • Positive Brand Sentiment & Advocacy
  • Employee Satisfaction/Retention
    • Support Value (Online Community Self-Service)
    • Social Mentions
    • Social Web Traffic Referrals
    • Search Web Traffic Referrals
    • Social SEO Improved Search Rank
    • Social Influencer Online Mentions
    • Social PR Mentions
    • Content Value (articles, photos, videos)

Reduce Costs

  • Advertising (ad impressions, clicks, traffic)
  • Content (articles, reviews)
  • Media (e.g. videos, photos)
  • Resource Staffing
  • Market Research (surveys, focus groups)
  • Product Development
  • Public Relations
  • Communications
    • Labor
    • Software / Online Tools
    • Equipment
    • Promotional Costs
    • Training
    • Legal Risk

Create Revenue

  • Leads, Conversion, Sales, Customer Retention
    • Social Leads (one-time value)
    • Social Leads (lifetime value)
    • Social-Aided Conversion

Quantifying Results

Lastly, remember there is a distinction between calculating ROI (profit) versus CBA (investment return) when quantifying results. Both are essential to assessing campaign effectiveness but should be used appropriately.

Cost-Based Analysis (CBA)Return on Investment (ROI)
FormulaBenefits – Costs [$ Value]( Benefits – Costs ) / Costs [Ratio]
PurposeAnalyze estimated cost impact. e.g. make a profit, break-even, take a loss.Analyze investment effectiveness for generating a profit.
Use CaseCompare options using a common currency and justify bottom-line feasibility of spending.Assess profitability as a basis for continuing and prioritizing future investments.

Additions & Feedback

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