‘By the time you finish reading this book, the data will have changed…’

Book review: The Social Executive, how to master social media and why it’s good for business, by Dionne Kasian-Lew, published by Wiley.

For those of us acting as communications or social media professionals, the concept of not understanding, using and deploying social media and social analytics simply no longer exists.

As for millennials, they are now starting their careers without knowing any different.

But CEOs are not run by millennials (yet). Their frames of reference are different, with a rigorous focus on business or organizational effectiveness and profitability.

Where do they turn to for objective advice?

How do we as their advisers give them the basics without missing the point, back our claims for the business benefits of the social web with data, and leave something behind on the CEO’s desk as a quick social media primer?

And how do we quickly, succinctly and convincingly overcome prejudices they may have towards social media?

One solution is Dionne Kasian-Lew’s book.


And the title of this blog post, taken from the frontispiece, neatly sums up why we should support our CEOs in ‘plunging in.’

She neatly sets out a clear rationale for CEOs to become active in social media on their own terms, and goes further than relying on the worn argument that they have no choice.

And then she takes them thorough the basics: how to open accounts in each of the main social media channels, how they differ and complement each other, the best techniques to use to create their own social personas, and how all this supports their businesses or organizations.

As she points out, social media is a mindset as well as a tool, the precursor to an organization become a socially professional one, which in turn is a prelude to more business, better customer service, and more success.

Back to those millennials for a moment. She reminds us that millennials have votes, spend money, choose roles, are the next generation of productive employees, and have never lived in a world that doesn’t have social media. This generation expects all of us, CEOs included, to be social, not because we’re leaders or early adopters, or even socially savvy. For them it’s like using a phone. We have to be social by default simply to be able to communicate with them.

So perhaps the CEO has no option after all.

The author warns the CEO not to pigeonhole social into marketing. By definition its immediacy and scale affect the whole business or organization, in an instant.

As you’d expect, ROI, Australian Securities Exchange expectations on the use of social media, the common sense needed when active in social media (in particular when personal and professional lives meet) are all dealt with clearly.

What’s of special value is the list of social media channels that goes beyond the familiar territory of Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Kasian-Lew reminds us, subtly, that it’s social media that’s here to stay, but that the channels may change.

Dionne Kasian-Lew breaks little new ground in this book (although I certainly learned new things) but she treads familiar ground with a new perspective and a clear objective: to introduce the world in which we now live to those new to it , or nervous about or dismissive of it. Its structure and accessibility to a dynamic subject are its strengths.

While I wouldn’t simply give the book to a senior colleague (always preferring to provide professional counsel and context) I would be comfortable about handing over a copy as part of a structured programme of advice.

As such it’s a useful addition to any professional’s library and a book I recommend. As she says towards the end, ‘we are saturated in generalities. Stand out.’ If you’re new to social media, this book explain how, and why.

About alansmithoz

Head of Strategic Business Communications at Australian social analytics technology company Digivizer, with a background in corporate public relations and marketing. I do what I do because I believe communications can make a difference.
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