By Deborah Wroe

I read a tweet the other day from someone suggesting all CEOs should manage their company’s social media for a day. I think it was from a social media manager 😉 I’m a big fan of back to the floor stuff. That TV show ‘Back to the floor’ ah no, ‘Undercover Boss’ was/is great. I’ve not seen it for ages and no idea if it’s still going, but it was a cracking premise. Big boss goes undercover as a junior employee in their own business to see first hand what works and what doesn’t, how the customers perceive the business and how the employees do. Eye opening and eye watering in equal measure. Most of the companies changed things for the better after their experience.

So, back to social media…the CEO of a company with a Facebook and or Twitter presence can quickly get access to this valuable feedback without having to wear a disguise and leave their families for a week or two. Though of course unless they have the passwords and admin rights they won’t see the whole kit and kaboodle, just the public stuff. But they can get a sentiment analysis from that – even if they are ‘undercover’ with a private Twitter or well concealed Facebook profile.

One can still argue that people only ‘take to social media’ (I can not tell you how much I loathe that phrase) to post negative stuff. Even so, all feedback is gold dust which can and should inform a business.

But half a tale is half a tale, if you only see one side of a conversation, or a public rant but not the swiftly dealt with…’can you private message us’ followed by speedy resolution and profuse thanks – all in private – you only get half the picture. Social media management is not about “How many likes can we get for our new widget?” or “RT if you think the sky is blue, fave for grey”…well to be fair it is for some B2C brands but it’s about deftly managing the relationship with customers and turning a positive into a negative when given the opportunity.

So back to ‘back to the floor’. Should CEOs take over social media for a day? I’d say as part of a bigger back to the floor exercise yes. One day will give some useful insight into the perception of a company but just a snapshot. That random Thursday in February when the CEO stepped in for the day. That day was the day that everyone decided to complain about widget xyz. Or the day when many of their customers logged on to say how wonderful blue widget 2.9 is. No two days are the same. I’d argue that CEOs need a permanent presence on social media. Take Richard Branson or Duncan Bannatyne for example. They are prolific tweeters and no doubt receive regular attacks on there for stuff that in some cases probably has nowt to do with them. But by having a presence and keeping their eye on the ball they can get to know their customers better and be part of the conversation.