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Connected and Responsive – the Social Media Leader

By Phil Jones

Phil Jones

Phil Jones

A common characteristic of successful leaders is their unrelenting thirst for learning. They have minds that are open to everything and closed to nothing, inhaling copious quantities of new information to refine/define who they really are.

They are also passionate about people and their customers, taking every opportunity to interrogate how the business could be doing better, what the next big thing is and where their main effort should be in pursuing organisational excellence.

If many of you have heard the concept of social media and taken the view that it’s not relevant as a CEO, let me provide a real life case study as to why it can contribute to the two points above.

The Backdrop of Expectation

The world has changed.  Concepts of instantaneousness, accessibility, transparency, accountability are high on the agenda, all the things that web 2.0 promised years back.  We now have three generations of people in the world, baby boomers (Gen X), Millennials (Gen Y) and Digital Natives (Gen Z).

Generation Z are prolific users of the digital world, they have always had Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay as daily parts of their life, they expect things in a hurry and consume vast quantities of information within short attention spans.  Generation Y aren’t far behind, with the 35-55 age category being most typical of a user on Twitter.

What this has led to is an expectation of accessibility. Users now expect to be heard, to be pro-actively listened to and recognised.  Forget return on investment (ROI), think return on engagement (ROE). They are expecting to access you and to develop a relationship with your organisation!

Go Social

Social media channels now allow us to access billions of people, listening to and engaging in billions of conversations.

By getting involved with social media, you can accrue significant benefits as the head of an organisation.  My view on the world is that the new CEO is called a COE or “Chief Opportunity Engineer” being accessible via social media to stay relevant in the market.

If you have grown your business and felt disconnected when you started to take on people to run things for you, here’s your way to get re-connected.  There is a lot of noise out there; you just have to be specific about what it is you want to listen to and from whom.

Let me share with you some outcomes and learnings I’ve benefited from after successfully using social media for around three years.

Ten Great Outcomes of Using Social Media

  1. I’ve recruited key staff into the business for minimal cost via Linkedin, saving thousands on recruiting costs.
  2. I’ve never been asked to speak at so many conferences ahead of my competitors, establishing us as the industry thought leaders
  3. I’ve never been asked to sit on so many judging panels, increasing regional and national profile for Brother.
  4. I’ve been able to position the business as one of the leading voices on B2B social media in the UK, aligning ourselves to like minded businesses.
  5. I am able to stay front of mind with key customers, journalists and members of my network, always keeping them on simmer and within reach.
  6. I’ve learned a tonne of stuff, particularly around leadership.  Twitter particularly is a like a free news channel that you can personalise to your specific taste/requirement.
  7. Lots of people that I know on social media networks end up buying our products or recommending them to others, simply because they know me.
  8. People bring opportunities to you first because you’re accessible (they might not normally make it to you due to your Corporate layers of gatekeepers/filters).
  9. You meet some really interesting people and all sorts of outside work opportunities/collaborations/friendships come your way.
  10. You get a real sense of being in the”now” being able to take informed decisions based upon a wider set of data than those direct people that you work with.

Ten Steps You Can Take to get Started

  1. Use an application like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to filter and manage the content. These applications can be used to manage Twitter and Linkedin simultaneously.
  2. Listen for a while and see how it all works. Start with joining Twitter and also bringing your Linkedin profile totally up to date. Don’t be everything to everybody on multiple platforms. I use Twitter, Linkedin, Blogger and Pinterest.
  3. Start a blog for colleagues, share your vision, your stories, things you do, insights you want to share. Post something at least once a week.
  4. Post updates in a particular genre. If you are an industry expert, post industry related things. I focus on leadership, innovation and personal growth.
  5. Devote some time to it, don’t devote all of your time to it. I invest around 15-20 minutes a day only using the tools outlined previously to prioritise information.
  6. Remember that breakfast is for eating, not Tweeting!  If you’ve nothing interesting to say, don’t say it and never tweet under the influence!
  7. Don’t have someone else run your social media for you or you will lack authenticity.
  8. Find your customers, industry journalists and commentators on Twitter, look through the lists of who they are following and follow them to quickly build your information base.
  9. Keep up to date with it.  Worst thing you can do is start and fizzle out – commit to it.
  10. Act quickly when people send you replies, mentions or feedback, that’s the whole point.

Whatever you do, do something. An amazing real-time database of how the world works is whizzing around your ears, day and night.  Tap into it and a rich vein of personal development will come your way.


About Phil

Phil Jones spearheads the UK operations of Japanese multi-national – Brother.  Responsible for sales of in excess of £100M PA, plus the strategy and delivery of its operational performance.

He has won a raft of awards, including Institute of Directors – Manchester 2010 and North West Director of the year 2010 – recognising his business and personal achievements.  Phil was recently listed as one of the Power 100 influencers in the region.

A prolific blogger, networker and speaker, his business blog – – has readership in over 60 countries.  A keen promoter of technology and social trends, leadership development and the power of emotional intelligence, he can be found on Twitter @philjones40.


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