It may come as no surprise that, as a social media marketing agency, we believe that an executive’s presence on social media is beneficial for the company he or she leads. Did you know that, as of 2016, only 40 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs were active on at least one of six major social networks? Today, around 70 percent of Americans use social media to connect with one another and consume information. That’s a big disconnect – and a big opportunity for executives to connect with their consumers.
We’ve heard various reasons why CEOs and top executives should avoid social media. Some think it takes too much time, or it’s too risky to have a leader sharing unfiltered thoughts on a public forum. Some even believe that being on social media poses a cyber-security threat.
But, when utilized well, social media humanizes brands and executives. Being more human is something every company can benefit from, since large corporations often can be perceived as faceless entities.
Whether it’s looking for input from your consumers, sharing perspective on a topical societal issue, or even using your social media platforms to acknowledge a misstep on behalf of your company, this level of approachability helps build authenticity and ultimately, trust, with consumers.
If you’re an executive who is new to social media, or a communications professional looking to get your c-suite set up for success, here are a few tips on how to find success:
1) Don’t join if you can’t commit to keeping your channels active. If you decide to join a social media platform or two, make sure you dedicate time to keeping them active, and think long-term. Building up a following and leaving them hanging without any updates for weeks, months or even years is a surefire way to lose that following. Tapping a team of experts to help you build a smart, strategic editorial calendar can help to ensure a dynamic social feed. (If you’re not sure where to start, The Motherhood can help! Contact us, and we can work with you to develop your objectives, determine your tone and create a robust stable of content.)
2) Schedule some posts, but not all of them. Social media can be a full-time job if you want it to be! There are several free social media tools that allow you to schedule posts ahead of time, and that can be extremely helpful in keeping your channels active. But, scheduling all of your posts can come across as inauthentic and worse, unintentionally tone-deaf – if, for example, a Facebook post about your company’s latest advertisement goes out when news just breaks about a national crisis. The beauty of social media is that it allows you to react in the moment, so executives on social media should embrace that!
3) Be thoughtful about your posts. If you’re not on social media yet, one concern may be that voicing your opinion on such a public forum will backfire. Just as with any communication – online or offline – be thoughtful in what you say via social media. If you’re uncertain, it never hurts to have your team weigh in on content before you publish.
4) Engage in the conversation. Social media is a great way to broadcast messages or information about your brand or personal brand. But, by not engaging with your audience from time to time, you’re overlooking one of the biggest advantages of social media: its two-way nature. While this does require a time commitment, engaging doesn’t always mean you have to have lengthy back-and-forth conversations with others. Ask questions of your audience, “like” or share content that appeals to you, retweet other users’ information. Since these engagements are visible, ensure you are thoughtful about them and that they reflect what you want to communicate about your personal brand.
5) Respond to backlash and concerns. Similar to the suggestion above, if you are faced with a customer concern on social media, respond. With 5.5 million Twitter followers and counting, the CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere, has been known to publicly respond to upset customers on social. Even if you ultimately take the conversation offline, acknowledging it in the public forum goes a long way in showing you’re in tune with and listening to your customers. Executives on social media can build trust by being transparent – a lesson that originated long before we were sharing in 240 characters!
6) Be an extension of your marketing department. Having a personal presence on social media doesn’t mean you need to strictly post about your company. Find a happy balance of information that is relevant to your personal life, your industry, your hobbies and your company.
On the other side of the coin, sometimes executives shy away from participating in company-led online marketing events, such as Twitter chats. We frequently host these types of events for our clients. Having seen them with and without the participation of a brand, we can confidently say that when executives join in, we consistently see higher levels of excitement, engagement and participation. Ask your marketing team about their plans and join in as it makes sense!
If you’re a communications professional looking for additional tips on coaching your executives on social media, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.