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Success and Leadership

Social Media and Leadership — The Risks of Distraction vs Benefits of Connection

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In this article, discover how leaders can master the art of social media, balancing its potential for brand building with the risks of distraction. Learn practical tips for integrating social media into leadership roles, including collaboration with marketing teams, leveraging technological tools, and setting personal usage boundaries. The piece offers insightful strategies for business executives to use social media as a powerful tool for transparency and thought leadership while avoiding common pitfalls.

Managing risk is every leader’s priority. Yet “risk” isn’t always simple to identify or navigate. That’s certainly true with how to navigate social media. On the one hand, it’s a necessary part of today’s marketplace. It can become a liability if it eats up time and money that’s better spent elsewhere.

According to the latest evidence from eMarketer, adults are spending significant amounts of time on social media each day. This includes an average of around 53 minutes on TikTok and 48 minutes on YouTube. As a leader of a company, you can’t afford to “lose’ hours just scrolling, reading, and commenting. Therefore, you shouldn’t look askance at the idea of regularly visiting social media platforms, either.

More than ever, CEOs are being seen as not just the heads of their companies but the voice of those companies, too. People want to know more about the people who head up their favorite brands. Sprout Social research shows that 86% of consumers want transparency from businesses. Not surprisingly, they often look to social media to fill that need. 

Leaders can’t afford to shy away from the social spotlight. After all, they are expected to be front and center. It’s not reasonable to expect a busy CEO to be present all the time on Facebook, X, or Pinterest. There needs to be a balance.

I know how hard it can be to find that balance. As a leader in our company, I’m always trying to prioritize what I do. This includes my time spent on all the social media platforms relevant to both me and my organization. 

What I’ve discovered is that there are ways to make sure that I’m able to be vocal and make connections without becoming too distracted or wasting time. They’re my “best practices” for social engagement in an era where it’s easy for executives to tumble down the Internet rabbit hole, and they’ll be useful for you if you’re trying to get all the benefits of social media without the downsides.

  1. Work with your content marketing team.
    Whether you’ve hired an internal marketing team or an outside agency, sit down to talk about your personal social media accounts. The goal of your meeting should be to find ways to make your social media usage more beneficial for your brand. For example, your content marketers may suggest that you share your company’s blog content and achievements. This could include sharing news about being shortlisted for industry awards, winning a customer service excellence award, or any other notable achievements recognized by a reputable awards company.

    Or, they may want you to publish thought leadership articles and posts on specific topics throughout the year. This can align your social media efforts with your company’s and expand your organizational reach. In essence, you can become an “insider influencer” for your business by amplifying the exposure and perceived importance of your marketing initiatives.

  2. Let technology help you master social media more efficiently.
    When I graduated from college, social media hadn’t taken hold. I’ve watched it evolve quickly over the past couple of decades, though. Now, it’s vast and becoming more influential all the time. Its growth is easy to recognize but harder to monitor, especially from the viewpoint of a C-Suite member with other responsibilities. For this reason, I recommend leveraging technological software to help you master your social media presence.

    Again, collaborate with your content marketing team about the technology they’re already using so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They can help you find tools that will do everything from “listening” on social media for relevant keywords to publishing posts. The result is that you’ll appear more visible on social media without eating into your overflowing schedule.

  3. Know how to avoid getting socially sidetracked.
    Just because you’re a successful CEO or executive doesn’t mean you aren’t human. And humans can find themselves becoming sidelined by distracting activities, including roving through social media sites. Up to 10% of American adults may even fall into the category of having a social media addiction, according to findings reported by Addiction Center.

    Your job is to monitor your social behaviors and set limits when it comes to your social media habits. Unless you need to be on social media otherwise, as in the case of a crisis management situation, you should steer clear of your social pages. Setting parameters creates guardrails and protects your precious time. Additionally, it sets you up as a good social role model for other up-and-coming leaders at your company.

  4. Think before you post anything.
    We’ve all seen the disastrous effects of leaders flippantly and thoughtlessly posting on social media. Though it can be tempting to react impulsively on social media, you may wind up creating problems for your brand if you act first and think later. Before responding to anything emotionally, put down your device. Walk away for a few moments. You’ll thank yourself later.

Following this, seek guidance from your inner circle. Get multiple opinions so you can craft well-positioned and meaningful content, steering away from impromptu and hasty posts.

Social media can be advantageous for you as a business leader. Just make sure that you put measures in place to lower your risks and get the best outcomes.


Written by Mike Szczesny.

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Mike Szczesny
Mike Szczesny is the owner and vice president of EDCO Awards & Specialties, a dedicated supplier of employee recognition products, branded merchandise, and glass awards. Szczesny takes pride in EDCO's ability to help companies go the extra mile in expressing gratitude and appreciation to their employees. He resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


Mike Szczesny is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn.