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Hanging Out Where Our Customers Hang Out

by David Brock on September 11th, 2014

I recently saw an infographic from the Brighton School Of Business entitled, “Do You have What It Takes To Become A CEO?”  There was a lot of interesting data there, but several one category captured me.

They wanted to assess the social media activity of the Fortune 500 CEO’s.  Their conclusion was, “today’s top CEOs aren’t very active on social media.”  It followed with the following:

  • 28% have a LinkedIn profile (They didn’t assess how active that 28% was in LinkedIn, for example, do they update their status, are they active on groups, etc.).
  • 7% are on Facebook.
  • 6% are Twitter.
  • 1% are on Google+.

I can just imagine all of us trying to socially surround these 140 people on LinkedIn, or the 35 poor souls on Facebook, or the 30 on Twitter or 5 on Google +.  With all of us trying to surround and engage them, I can imagine them running in fright/avoidance (OK, I’m having a little fun with this, but you get the point.).  I also wonder about those that we are missing and the opportunities with them.

I suspect the data may not be too different for non Fortune 500 CEO’s.  Likewise, I suspect the data may not be very different for many C-Level or senior execs.

But it causes me to think about our social selling strategies.  If we are socially surrounding our customers–and if our target customers are C-Level execs, as they are in many complex B2B sales, who are we surrounding?  However active we might be on social channels, however we might leverage them to engage our customers in conversations, if our customers aren’t hanging out on social channels, who are we talking to?  How are we engaging?  What conversations are they having with others in different places?  Are they meeting our competition wherever they may be hanging out?

Now before you start calling me a dinosaur and thinking I don’t get it, clearly I think social channels are very important.  Why would I be so active in them if they weren’t?

It’s just important for us to realize, these aren’t the only channels, and depending on who our customers are, they may not be the best channels.

Clearly,  some industry segments will have higher utilization of social channels.  Greg Alexander did a great post on this:  Social Selling Applicability By Industry.

Clearly, the utilization of these channels has increased an will increase in the coming years.

Clearly, these executives may be influenced by others in their companies (at lower levels) who may be more socially active.

So it’s foolish not to develop strong presence in social channels.  But this can’t be our exclusive engagement strategy.

If our target customers are C-Level customers, is that if we are going to connect and engage our customers, we have to connect with them where they are hanging out, not where we may want to be hanging out.  Talking to them about LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, trying to get them to hang out there, because that’s where all the cool people are isn’t going to have much of an impact.

Are these guys hanging out on the web?  Possibly, but it may not be social channels, they probably go to company web sites, they probably leverage news sites, they look at financial sites.  But clearly they are engaging people and being engaged in other places.

If  we are selling are products, tools and services for social engagement, then the most qualified prospects may be hanging out in social sites and it makes sense to focus our engagement there.  (Hmm, I wonder if those who haven’t learned how to spell social are worth going after???)

My point is not to diminish the importance of having a social presence and engaging our customers and prospects socially.  It is important and will grow in importance.  But social engagement can only be a part of our overall engagement strategy.  And for those that say social is it, I only hope 100% of their customers and prospects are hanging out there.

For me, Fortune 500 CEO’s  and C-Level execs are part of my target customers set.  So I’m going to have to continue to engage them where they are at–and most of them aren’t highly active on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.

Where do your customers hang out?  Are you meeting them there?

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  1. Dave;

    What I have noted is the most people participating in our groups & conversing at a high level are not the people in C-Suite.

    Although, we do have many C-Suite people in our franchising groups.

    Perhaps that is how it should be.

    • Michael: It’s always great to see you commenting. I think that is possibly as it should be (though a surprising and flattering number of C-Suite people do subscribe to and read the blog).

      I’d be interested in seeing research of normal everyday business people to see the levels of social activity and engagement across a wide number of industries, geographies, and levels. I suspect it is a little higher than the data for C-Suite, but I don’t think it is dramatically higher.

      I think our (the community) view of things gets a little distorted. Because we hang out here, we engage each other, we assume everyone else does. But out in the real world, when I take informal surveys, the level of active participation is very low.

      No doubt it will increase, but it is not the answer to our prayers.

  2. Dave – I appreciate your perspective here and agree that many of us in and around sales are eager to make good use of social media for a number of reasons but rarely pause to reflect on the investment of our time. It’s easy to see why given the utility that each channel affords in addition to the fact that many of us are hardwired to be social, media or otherwise.

    I use social for a variety of reasons and think it’s interesting to consider how and why other participants are there (wherever there might be) too. According to and Domo’s 2014 Social CEO Report that was published this month:

    • A whopping 68% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no
    social media presence at all.
    • Of those who do, 2/3 of them engage on only
    one platform.
    • 74% of CEOs who only participate in a single
    network join LinkedIn first.

    The report is in your inbox and there’s a link to it in the following piece which I think makes a good case for why more CEOs, of a specific bent are and will continue to adopt social media.

    Sales, marketing and talent acquisition/ HR make up the majority of LinkedIn’s user base. If you’re goal is social selling and you’re not taking these fundamentals into account chances are you’re not hanging out where most of your customers are.

    • David, thanks so much for this and the report. It was fascinating, I’ll be leveraging it in upcoming posts. The conclusion, I’m not sure I completely agree with it, that CEO’s not using Social Channels are doing their customers a massive disservice gives us some interesting lessons and challenges. For those who are engaged in social selling, particularly those who sell social products/services, they have to get off the social platforms to sell and engage these CEO’s. It’s something that too many seem totally blind to.

      Thanks so much for sharing this. Regards, Dave

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