On this bonus episode of the Zero Hour Podcast, we chat with Lee Caraher, Founder and CEO at Double Forte PR, a successful PR, content marketing, and social media firm. We talk about the rise of CEO activism, C-suite leaders’ relevance in being active on social media, and the cyber risks that come with public, visible, C-level social media messaging.
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CEO Activism & Social Media Messaging: A Guide for C-Suite Leaders
“Adding channels to your communication is not as easy as, ‘I'm going on TikTok now’. Adding channels to your communication means asking yourself ‘Okay, what happens if that gets compromised?’”
Social Media Messaging Among C-Suite Leaders
Lee said there’s a “huge tug of war” between younger and older CEOs when it comes to maintaining social media accounts. She said part of this is generational, and part of it is size-based.
“Younger CEOs, regardless of the company and the size, are much more comfortable in having social media accounts and knowing how to use them,” Lee revealed. “Older CEOs are less comfortable with it. And if you're publicly traded, then there's a whole other set of issues around what's material information and what isn't.”
Lee is a big believer in strategically bridging the gap between generations; so much so that she wrote a book about it! Lee contends that 2020 has been a break the glass moment for C-suite leaders, where being on social media is no longer an option, but a business imperative. Social media messaging can be an asset instead of a risk, if deployed right.
“From a corporate perspective, LinkedIn is no longer an option. You must be on LinkedIn. And even if it's a private account and you're not actively looking for networking, it is a way people, customers, and consumers are looking,” explained Lee. “People want to know who the CEO is and they want to know what mostly he or she thinks about things going on.”
CEO Activism and Connecting With Consumers
The recent surge of CEO activism was prompted by the controversial conduct of soon-to-be-former U.S. President Donald Trump. Social media responsibility became more relevant, especially for public servants with personal accounts.
“In the 2020 elections, never before have we seen CEOs of publicly and privately traded, privately held companies band together to ask the president... to basically demand the president do what's good for the economy and the country,” Lee said.
“In this vacuum of leadership, the CEOs have become the moral compass for their companies, for their employees, for their partners, for their customers and their users.”
Since the tragic death of George Floyd, there have been more and more CEO pledges to take action. “What are you doing for diversity? What are you doing to deescalate all this kind of stuff? We have the pandemic, we have George Floyd, BLM, and we have the administration and this election all colliding at the same time while there was already a trend to, ‘What does the CEO think?’” Lee said. Social media messaging helps companies answer this question.
“I don't like the term cancel culture. I like the term alignment culture. Like I'm not going to spend money where my money doesn't align with what I believe in.”
Securing Social Media for CEOs
Early this year, PwC surveyed over 1,600 CEOs from around the world and learned that large organizations deeply fear cybersecurity issues. This pushed many of them to take cybersecurity actions around their personal use of technology to help protect against hackers.
“When that PWC report came out, the tension was, ‘Oh my God, do I have to do this?’ Yeah, you do. You do for the economy now. You do for understanding who's going to align with you and who is not, and who's going to buy from you who is not. And the easiest way to get your message out is social media.”
Industry leaders are now assessing how they should establish their social media presence. “If you're publicly traded versus if you're privately held, how big are you?” said Lee. “How old are you? How comfortable are you with the medium? And I bet when PwC does their report next February 2021, then that number will be 98% of CEOs are online and on social media in some way, shape or form,” said Lee.
Cybersecurity Challenges for C-Suite Leaders on Social Media
Speaking to the cybersecurity issues that come with social media, Lee pointed out the key issue that “you don't own the data.” This means companies have to take special care.
Social media accounts could potentially be targeted by criminals as a means of gaining access to personal information, and Double Forte has had clients before that have faced this problem.
“We really haven't had a security product. We've said let's limit the number of people, let's make everything harder to get into. If you have to get into the password document, there's going to be a two-step verification. We've done all these other things, but we haven't said, okay, let's get a security product in here to make sure.”
When it comes to corporate communication, Lee believes that everybody should have the same information all the time, particularly on issues that are important to customers. “What you own and what you don't own is also important not only from a messaging perspective but from a security perspective,” Lee concluded. “Having a social media messaging strategy as well as a crisis strategy can prove to be an asset for future downturns.”
You can listen to the podcast episode here, and is also available on Stitcher, Apple, and Spotify. The Zero Hour Podcast is the intersection of information security and business innovation. Learn from industry experts in cybersecurity, marketing, and business management. We talk about the challenges and opportunities that come with new technology. Join the conversation now!