Cisco : Channelling senior executives

A 'social' element to executive biographies offers little to like.

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The feature

Cisco, US-based information technology company, adds social media activity to the biographies of its top management. Cisco houses biographies of its executive leadership team in an Executive Bios sub-section of its standalone corporate news room, ‘the network’. Of the 13 profiles listed, seven include a graphic flag for Social Bio. On clickthrough, these profile pages show a standard summary of the individual’s résumé above highlights of activity in social media and digital channels. The Social Bio elements show varying degrees of customisation. For chairman and CEO John T Chambers this covers the most recent postings to a personal Facebook page followed by a company Twitter feed and blog posts with the sub-heading The Platform. For Executive VP Wim Elfrink the Facebook and Twitter streams are both company ones, with the category of the blog selection (Emerging Countries) reflecting his responsibility as chief globalisation officer.

The takeaway

On first impression, Cisco’s Social Bio addition to executive profiles does what it is presumably intended to – it builds a ‘now’ element into the personalisation of senior management biographies. As such, it brings a new dimension to a feature that on most sites includes little if any customised material like speeches or news items. It also cements the company’s positioning as a technology leader. There is, however, no explanation on the site of the Social Bio tag against which to judge its purpose. This is unfortunate because it raises expectations of individuality and approachability through social media that the content itself is likely to disappoint. Social may mean as little as the chance to follow/like the company, not the individual, or a customised selection of blog links – itself a worthwhile feature but a thin justification for the ‘social’ tag. The risk for Cisco is that the lasting impression it leaves is of a company hitching a ride on the social media bandwagon rather than driving it.
First published 20 November, 2012
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