Earlier this year Donald Trump made a typo on Twitter ... and it made front-page news around the world. The Internet went into overdrive puzzling over his mysterious malapropism, covfefe.
It's an illustration of the power of the president's social media accounts--a power that some of the planet's biggest companies have been wrestling with firsthand.
In recent months, Trump has taken high-profile swings at everyone from GM and Boeing to Nordstrom, Delta and Lockheed Martin. The situation has grown so volatile that companies are now taking out insurance policies in case Trump tweets at them.
In the face of these social media assaults, however, leadership at most of these companies has been conspicuously silent. Behind this silence lies a serious (and largely unspoken) problem. Believe it or not, 61% of Fortune 500 CEOs still have no social media presence whatsoever.
To address this skills gap, Ryan Holmes, the CEO of social relationship platform Hootsuite, has put together a new social media survival guide for leaders--a book that explains how and why to get on social media and stay ahead of the competition. It's called The Four Billion Dollar Tweet and, not surprisingly, it's already an Amazon Bestseller. (The name refers to the astounding $4 billion that Lockheed Martin lost after one of Trump's Twitter tirades.)
For leaders looking for a quick-start guide, here are three of the fundamental pillars for getting up and running on social media talked about in the book.
1) Get help.
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 right support--whether that's a dedicated strategist or someone from your existing PR team--will make this entire process easier, from strategizing on what to post to ensuring that all content is safe and compliant.
2) Find your voice.
Social media demands a tone that's real and human. This can range from off-the-cuff and funny (@levie) to hard-nosed and data-driven (@elonmusk), but authenticity is non-negotiable. Here's a quick hack from Holmes: Think of three hashtags that define you (his are #socialmedia, #entrepreneurship and #technology) and start from there.
Yes, some social media messages just "go viral." But, as Holmes points out in his book, the truth is that most social posts need a little help. Employee advocacy can be a powerful (and basically no-cost) way to extend the reach of your updates: enlist team members to re-share relevant posts with their followers. Paid advertising through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be another very effective way to amplify your messages.
These are the just a few of the basics covered in more detail in The Four Billion Dollar Tweet. As head of the world's most widely used social relationship platform, not to mention someone who boasts more than a million social followers of his own, Holmes has plenty of first-hand insight on social media leadership. The truth is that it's fast becoming an essential piece of the executive toolkit ... whether or not you have to respond to a Tweet from Donald Trump.