It’s a brave new world, as CEO’s and other Executives turn to social media for branding and marketing opportunities to help move their companies forward. Tom Standage, digital editor of the Economist explains in his book, “Writing on the Wall”, that the concept of social media is so old, even the Romans had it. Through ancient graffiti, Renaissance pamphlets, and newspapers, modern-day social media and blogging began to take its form. Julius Caesar was known to publish information that would weaken his political opponents, by revealing details about their government and circulating this information through social channels. This isn’t the sort of behavior a social executive should exhibit, but it does give an intriguing look inside the mindset of a leader who found a precocious way to reach a mass audience- through social channels.
It’s probably safe to say that social media is not just a passing fad. Platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become a daily fabric of life for a wide array of audiences. For a social executive, connecting with the right audiences will turn your social media marketing from an annoying waste of time to an effective bottom-line booster.
The 7 Audiences Executives Find On Social Media
According to David Dubois, Assistant Professor of Marketing at INSEAD, a 2015 study comparing CEO engagement against that of their companies, showed that” a CEO’s personal handle (their Twitter name) has significantly more influence than their corporate brand.” Bill Gates, for example, averages thousands of engagements per tweet, while the @GatesFoundation Twitter handle averages only hundreds per tweet.
Gates’ media posts are consistent with rich content that includes articles, pictures, and video, as well as links to bios and speeches. His online persona exerts a great deal of influence over his companies’ reputation, and there is a direct correlation at work between the two.
In an eight-country comparison study done by Kitchen and Laurence, “54% of Americans believe that at least half of a company’s reputation is based on a CEO’s reputation.” There is a lot at stake when it comes to executive sociability, but there is also a great deal to gain. Executive sociability enhances brand trust, and it gives the company a face and personality.
2. Industry peers
There is enormous potential in networking with industry peers on social media. It enables managers to stay in front of industry trends influencing the business landscape. It also helps battle the sort of complacency organizations face when they operate with too much of an inward focus.
As Stoyan V. Sgourev and Ezra W. Zuckerman of MIT Sloan put it, “The inability of U.S. manufacturers to respond effectively in the 1980s to the entry of Japanese brands into the automotive, camera, copier and television markets is a prime example of how immersion in a local context may blind companies to disruptive external events.”
Staying on top of industry trends gives companies the opportunity to adopt agile measures when faced with market changes, and helps them stay in front of technology shifts. It facilitates fresh perspectives and encourages learning through shared experiences.
3. Investors, board members and other stakeholders
Stakeholder engagement involves openness and collaboration in a company’s approach to innovation. Stakeholder engagement must move past communication efforts made to satisfy compliance and to investors, board members and stakeholders who have a legitimate interest in a company’s work and are open to constructive engagement. Engaging with stakeholders exhibits co-creative engagement orchestration, and illustrates good corporate governance.
Stakeholders can have economic, technological, political, social or even managerial effects on a company and engagement is, therefore, an important part of forming an interactive relationship with them. Interactive engagement is a prominent aspect of strategic management. which, in turn, helps leaders anticipate business opportunities and risks.
4. Journalists, reporters, and publications
Speaking one-on-one with the press can be a great way to network and make product or partnership announcements. A good example of this has been exhibited by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, who frequently tweets out press news to the media.
For more info on Tesla Energy, check out press kit. $250/kWh for utility-scale is the real kicker http://t.co/xE57uIUCse
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 1, 2015
An estimated 60% of journalists and reporters use Twitter as their preferred social media channel. Many of them will use the first good source that replies to their queries. With some help from your team and a little planning, you can have your insights ready to go when a reporter reaches out. One thing I consistently hear from journalists is that PR reps that make life easier for them are the ones they go back to again and again. The key to working with influencers is understanding their habits and interests. Think about what the journalist you are trying to connect with needs to include in their article they are writing, and make that information readily accessible to them.
5. Current employees
Communication with employees on social media is perhaps the most visible manifestation of company culture. It acts as a window for customers and potential customers to peer into the inner workings of a company and their relationship with their employees. A good example of this has been demonstrated by Virgin CEO Richard Branson, whose tweets and posts frequently include his employees.
We asked our @virgin team members: What’s your happy mantra? Here’s my favourite responses: https://t.co/VrcmVbJlu1 #VirginFamily pic.twitter.com/ocVK9Vg8ca — Richard Branson (@richardbranson) December 30, 2016
During an interview with Inc. Magazine, Richard Branson famously revealed his approach to building a company known for great customer service. And that is in adopting an employee-centric management strategy.
Creating content for employees makes the company a more attractive place to work, and gives customers a glimpse of company culture. In Richard Branson’s own words, “In the end, shareholders do well, customers do better and the staff remains happy”.
6. Prospective employees
The ability to attract and retain talent is a concern for most executives. While there is no substitute for good-old-fashioned recruiting, executives can assist efforts by taking a pro-active approach to enhancing their online persona. Prospective employees will often turn to a company website, as well as brand and executive profiles for information and insights into the company culture.
Attracting talent is a competitive advantage, and social media enables executives to utilize social channels to respond to recruitment challenges, by implementing value proposition strategies aimed at attracting new talent.
Jerome Ternynck, Founder and CEO of SmartRecruiters, has said: “hiring is social.” Ternynck elaborated, ” I consistently connect and keep up with everyone that I meet that has high potential whether it’s a good time to hire them or not. Networking is key. Ultimately, the aggregate network between my employees and me represent several million people in our industry. The likelihood of hiring someone outside of our social network is extremely low.”
If a prospective employee looked at your executive social profile today, what would they see?
Would they see a leader who is:
- Effective at communication
- Open and accessible
- Technologically savvy
CEO sociability drives likability, especially when you present a genuine human voice and share great content.
7. General public
Executive sociability puts a spotlight on the good (and sometimes the bad), but most importantly, it enables leaders to tell their company stories in unimaginable and untold ways. Effective leaders are constantly looking for ways to expand their knowledge, which in turn they can pass on to others.
Companies tend to put a lot of focus on the general public while trying to seed out who their prospective customers are most likely to be. While it’s beneficial to actively look for target market demographics using tools and social analytics, it’s also important to learn how to attract customers by sharing:
- Personal stories
- Insightful career advice
- Comments on news and trends
- Value-added content
- Moments of customer and employee appreciation
- Mission, vision and values
In theory and in practice, executives can use social media to build trust and convert. You don’t just accept who you find, but instead, choose who you attract by being accessible and demonstrating thought leadership. Teams must establish what the executive stands for, how it relates to larger business goals and society at large. Once the strategic narrative is defined, executives can use social media to tell their stories, while their team works to direct those stories to the most appropriate audience.
A team of professional marketers may come in handy when it comes to planning and strategy, however, outsourcing sociability results in sacrificing authenticity. As the editor-in-chief of your social media persona, work through your team to seek out public engagement with purpose and imperative.