Chief Digital Officer: 5 tips to better social media in business

Learn how to use social media from Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. These tips come from a former journalism professor and will help you gain influence and build your personal brand.
Written by Michael Krigsman, Contributor on
On a recent episode of CXOTalk , I spoke with an executive at the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The museum's Chief Digital Officer, Sree Sreenivasan, presented tips and advice for using social media in business.
Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art (image courtesy cxotalk.com)
Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art (image courtesy cxotalk.com)

Sreenivasan is ideally suited and qualified to offer this advice. As CDO at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, his mission is making the museum accessible through every digital channel. He is also a former professor and Dean at the Columbia School of Journalism. Beyond those credentials, Sree teaches workshops on social media and has an ongoing project compiling tips.

In a word, if you want to learn about social media, Sree Sreenivasan is the guy to see.

For this CXOTalk, I pulled together a series of rapid-fire questions in a "Lightning Edition" that puts the guest on a hot seat so we can learn from their experience.

This Lightning Edition was Sree's second appearance on CXOTalk. Previously, Sree spoke about digital transformation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can read my summary and analysis here on ZDNet.

Also read: Digital transformation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The entire Lightning Round conversation with Sree Sreenivasan is embedded below:

Here are key tips for building your brand on social media (edited for length and clarity):

1. How can social media build relationships?

Social media allows you to build relationships through listening, connecting, engaging. Now, you can connect with people and be part of their lives without actually trying to make a sale.

There's so much skepticism among customers and the public that it's much better to be part of their lives by being useful, relevant, interesting. Connect with people when you don't need them, so they can be there when do you need them.

2. Can we use social media to help us sell?

Absolutely, but don't start out saying you're going to sell. Instead ask, "How do I raise awareness; how do I show people something really cool, really useful?"

If you're selling anything, you want to be in social, but be very careful how you do it. Make content that's engaging and interesting and then, when the time is right, sell because people will want it on their own.

You've got to have a good product first, that's the key.

3. How can we build a strong personal brand?

Social media can help you build a brand if you are authentic. Be yourself, and really know what you're doing. If you're great in real life, you can be awesome on social media.

Social media does not make your brand. Social media amplifies who you are, amplifies your brand. So if you're terrible in real-life; late all the time; deliver bad products, bad service; badmouth people. You're boring, you're irritating to people. Then, social media will take that and amplify it, and you'll be awful on social media.

On the other hand, you're a great business executive, do good work, people care about what you have to say, then you can be awesome. And that's what you need to do.

4. How can we connect with influencers on social media?

Make a list of the influencers you want to connect with and then connect with them. How do you do that? First you follow them, then you retweet them. You answer their questions. You comment on their work, and over a period of time people notice and they start following you.

They'll also unfollow you because you might be boring. But you have to reach out one person at a time and decide to follow. I recommend a tool called Twiangulate, that shows you who your most influential 100 followers are, or your top 100 followers, based on how many followers they have.

Find them, connect with them, network with them, and over time they might follow you. But if you aren't participating, you can't expect people to follow you just like that.

5. How important are followers as a metric?

Followers are important but don't get obsessed with the number of followers. At the MET, we recently lost 1 million followers. We are the seventh most followed art museum in the world and we were named the most influential art museum in the world. I would gladly give up hundreds of thousands of followers for influence, and that's what you want.

Are you a person that people listen to, that people care about, that people connect with, people take seriously? Then you'll do fine on Twitter.

Build out your base organically, slowly. Don't worry about the numbers and you'll be okay.

CXOTalk brings together the world's top executives, authors, and industry analysts to discuss leadership, technology, and innovation. Join me and Vala Afshar for new episodes of CXOTalk every week.

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