Mark Flannagan, CEO of Beating Bowel Cancer
Within my staff team and the wider supporter base I think that being an active and available Chief Executive brings a deal of credit. Supporters particularly appreciate you always being “on” and available. They want you to be a visible advocate for the cause and to show your passion and personal motivation.
This, for me, has never been a problem, or an intrusion. Being directly connected through social media brings insight and immediacy. It allows me to see sides of people and their stories that I might not otherwise get in the office, or mediated through other forms of communications.
In their turn, supporters appreciate seeing the ‘real me’ behind the CEO – whether that’s my cycling or baking.
Social media is part of our service
As a charity Chief Executive I see every day that social media is a central and vital medium to connect people with our services. Our unique bowel cancer helpline is signposted through Twitter and Facebook.
Our information and support booklets are routinely advertised and links to download are highlighted as well. We promote and sign up individuals to our successful Patient and Carer Days through social media.
All of this is now business as usual. In many ways Twitter has replaced the mass mailing, as the means of reaching people and, crucially, we can now receive an almost instantaneous response and direct feedback.
My Twitter feed connects me to patients, their family and friends
Beyond this, in my role I am conscious that what I say, when I say it and how I say it via Twitter or Facebook is also a symbol of the charity’s ability to be there when people need it most.
My Twitter feed (@MarkFlannCEO) is a direct link to patients, their family and friends. Through Twitter I can be there for them and let them know that the whole charity is there to help them. I can thank people for their fundraising and celebrate when people connect with others going through the same experiences.
Unusually, I think, I am also available on Facebook. I don’t see Facebook as my closed personal space, but think that it is not unreasonable that supporters can see and engage with me on a personal basis, albeit in much smaller numbers.
My Facebook connections are usually those with who I have had prior personal contact and who I know are individuals who want to have a closer relationship. Real friendships are also formed, as well as Facebook Friends! Instant messages are exchanged when people want an answer and I don’t see this as a problem or an inconvenience.
Being a charity Chief Executive is never a nine-to-five job and in my view it is necessary to be aware and connected outside of these hours. Social media is the best way to do this.
Of course, there is a risk that you can be swamped and work-life balance tilts the wrong way. That said, in the times when I have needed motivation, being connected with individuals who are what we are all about has been a source of inspiration.