David Meerman Scott, one of our favourite marketing authors, posted an excellent item on his blog overnight. It’s a video interview he did recently with Bob Lutz, vice chairman of General Motors, on why Lutz devotes so much of his time to blogging and social media. GM’s recent history notwithstanding, Lutz is a very influential and highly regarded executive, and it is fascinating to hear him explain why he became one of the first corporate bloggers back in 2004.
What prompted Lutz to start was a spate of negative and, in GM’s view, inaccurate press coverage that had been appearing about its products. The conventional route of demanding retractions or corrections from editors wasn’t felt to be delivering the goods. Therefore, Lutz decided to tell his version of events directly to the public in unmediated form. While the initial audience might have been small, it transpired that journalists were amongst those who were following, so gradually the policy began to pay off in improved understanding and better coverage.
Today, Lutz is still blogging and GM is engaged with other forms of social media too, such as Twitter and YouTube. The value of this has grown, as GM has recently based some product development decisions on the customer feedback it was getting via the Web.
To those (many) senior executives who feel that they are too busy for social media, Lutz has a simple message:
Very few CEOs understand that there is nothing more important than communication… The more you engage people by answering emails, getting on blogs, getting on Twitter, and posting stuff on YouTube, the more we make ourselves real and credible and accessible and look like human beings who are trying to do a good job rather than a bunch of amorphous corporate types… A CEO who says ‘my job is to look at numbers and run this company from the inside’ doesn’t fully understand what a CEO’s role is.
It is a great video, only about 12 minutes long and highly recommended viewing over your next coffee.