Almost a decade after the founding of Facebook and more than seven years after the first tweet, business leaders know that mastering social media is an absolute must. And now more than ever, executives are biting the bullet and getting a social media education.
That's according to the Wall Street Journal, reporting on the mentorships and classes senior executives are taking as they look to gain a better grasp on social media and other technology trends. From being mentored by younger employees to doling out a bunch of money for courses, big-time business leaders, including senior management at PepsiCo and American Express, are hitting the e-books.
Why They're Learning
If executives have gotten this deep into the digital age without figuring out how to post a status update, why do they feel the need now? Michael Robson, a general manager for digital training company General Assembly, provides a compelling case.
"Ninety-nine percent of executives say [digital growth] is important, but only 10 percent of companies are satisfied with the speed at which they are making the transition," Robson tells the Journal. And without a proper understanding of how this Internet stuff works, execs are in a bind when it comes to getting their own hands dirty and speeding this transition up.
Execs are notorious for their lag in getting hooked on social media. In August, Quartz reported that 68 percent of CEOs at 500 of America's biggest companies have even just one social media account.
Even more generous research suggests that social media accounts might not be that uncommon for senior managers, but that they still fail to engage with the social functions at their companies. According to that research, top teams see reports with information gleamed from social media at less than 24 percent of companies.
What They're Learning
The push for leaders to learn a little bit about the web isn't so much tech training as it is an exercise in alignment. One company "chose to invest in digital training after realizing that junior staffers' new ideas weren't getting much traction because bosses didn't understand their tech-heavy proposals," the Journal reports.
Execs don't need to learn what every button on every social media site does. "Rather, instructors and managers say, a basic understanding of the digital landscape helps leaders make better decisions about what to invest in, as well as how to talk about it," the Journal reports. In other words, it's not as important for a leader to use a hashtag as it is to know how their company can best use them.
It's not just social media. Execs are also getting an overview of other digital technologies, like coding and big data. An article from Executive Travel Magazine expresses a similar argument for why CEOs should learn the very basics of coding, even if they're not actually learning how to build anything of actual value. "[An] understanding the basics of coding is an essential way to comprehend the world today," the article reads.