It has already been established that Social Media is a very important, if not a fundamental, part of any marketing campaign. With the incessant permeation of the platforms into society, Social Media’s reach, influence, and power continues to grow; and its significance in the trade industry has been indispensable. However, even when businesses and industries have acknowledged its strength and importance, a pretty good number of CEOs still question the need to be social.
According to Statista, there are 1.96 billion active social media users across the globe as of 2017 — about 25% of the world’s population. Such reach has been met with enthusiasm by businesses who have taken advantage of the fact that social media offers a market reach to the billions while spending minimally on marketing and advertising. As of 2016, there were 60 million businesses with Facebook Pages. Brands like National Geographic and Nike also have some of the most followed accounts on Instagram.
Interestingly, the statistics don’t seem to impress company leaders. According to the 2016 Social CEO Report, 60% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no presence on social media. Of all the companies, only 36 CEOs were on Twitter and only 25 were active. Only 11 are on Instagram. It seems the idea of building their company, or even their own brands, better and establishing themselves as thought leaders don’t seem to interest CEOs. But these should.
According to an infographic by Likeable Influence, 9 in 10 CEOs of Fortune’s Most Admired are socially engaged. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, with 1.62M followers on Twitter and 772 tweets, had a 96% Glassdoor employee approval rating. Apple CEO Tim Cook, with his 10.2M followers, 519 tweets, and 1,094 Likes had an employee approval rating of 93%. On the other hand, only 3 of 10 CEOs from the Most Hated Companies in America are socially active. The average approval rate of CEOs that aren’t active on social media is 74%.
It is also worth noting that 80% of employees say they would prefer working for a CEO who has a presence and is active on social media.
If you’re a CEO and want to be socially active and engaged but don’t know how to, here are the best ways to approach social media:
- Leave your business’ social media to your marketing experts
For startups and small businesses, it’s totally fine to be the one handling your social media marketing strategy — sharing updates and engaging with your followers. But for CEOs of bigger companies and even corporations, leave your brand’s platforms to your marketing experts. Don’t use your company’s accounts as your personal platform. This is a big no, no!
Unless its some “takeover” marketing stint, your business’ accounts should have a unified theme and all should highlight your brand and nothing else.
It’s so easy to create a Facebook page or a Twitter account for yourself and build your own brand. You can post updates about your brand as well, but having a personal platform allows more freedom on what you post — your family, your interest, your advocacies. If you need help in establishing a better following and presence online, you can ask for tips from your company’s marketing experts.
- Decide on your identity
The age-old but forever true cliche, “Be yourself” proves true on social media. Learning who you want your followers and your brand’s audience to know you by will be crucial while establishing your social media presence.
Do you want to be known for your good leadership tips like Richard Branson? Or someone who likes to post about goodwill and social entrepreneurship like Microsoft’s Bill Gates? Or be the CEO-next-door, the not-so-average joe who likes to give a peek into his personal life like Dennis Crowley of Foursquare? You can have whatever persona you want to present via your social media platforms for as long as it doesn’t go against your brand image.
- Position yourself as an expert
Once you’ve found that identity, start building your whole strategy around it. This way you can establish yourself as a thought leader — an expert in your field. To be a thought leader, you must have followers — people who see you as an authority, who value your inputs, and are inspired by your ideas. The first step to doing this is by sharing valuable content.
- Be socially relevant (not too much!)
One common thing among CEO social media accounts is their public display of support for the organizations and advocacies they champion. Not only are the accounts a platform to show support but it is also a way to connect with followers and make some of the most powerful and overtly rich company leaders appear more human.
If you vocally support movements that are dear to your followers, it makes you more personal and reachable to the public. Note though that too much could also backfire. Supporting controversial movements may alienate some of your followers or even anger a certain group. Make sure you choose your advocacies carefully.
- Engage with your followers
Your own social media accounts will help build your own personal brand, so make sure you connect with the people around you. Engage with the people who support you and follow you, as well as prospect followers and consumers. Reply to their messages, repost their messages, and let them know you hear them. People are more likely to follow you and value your insights and ideas when you value them.