Inherent in today’s digital landscape is a new set of expectations for executives, not the least of which is building trust by engaging stakeholders online. With trust in CEOs now at a meager 43 percent according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, there’s never been a better time to leverage digital tools to build an authentic online presence and directly engage with key stakeholders.
For CEOs who are less comfortable communicating online, getting started comes with its own set of challenges. After all, not every executive is as savvy on social as Richard Branson. Here are five ways that executives new to social media can build a strategic online presence that elevates their personal brand and provides a reputational lift for their company:
1. Content Curation
In crafting a digital narrative, executives can share the latest thinking from across their industry. One standout example is Doug Conant, former chief executive of Campbell Soup Company, whose updates are peppered with best practices from leadership thought leaders such as Bill George. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner takes a similar approach, sharing the latest HR trends on Twitter, contextualized with a thoughtful point of view.
2. Brand Amplification
Equally important is the celebration of team wins on social media – a clear trend among active executives. Marissa Mayer, chief executive of Yahoo!, regularly showcases the standout work of her team. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is another top executive to emulate, as he mixes appearance updates with the latest corporate news from Salesforce, such as a recent app release.
3. Insider Access
In addition to amplifying corporate wins, executives are ideally suited to share the ins and outs of their organizations. One notable example is Apple’s Tim Cook, who regularly spotlights the experts behind the brand’s latest product rollouts. Marissa Mayer’s behind-the-scenes posts follow a similar theme, highlighting Yahoo employees’ participation in pop culture moments, such as last year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
4. Personal Tone
Social media gives executives the opportunity to humanize otherwise stuffy corporate messaging. CEOs, in particular, are embracing a down-to-earth persona on social. Jeff Weiner shares a trove of resources, including online shopping tricks. Mayer takes a similarly social approach, sharing photos from various appearances, opting for unfiltered, Facebook-style images over pristine stock imagery.
5. Inspirational Musings
Perhaps most important to executives is demonstrating thought leadership and business acumen. On social, this often translates to sharing sage advice on climbing the corporate ladder, multi-tasking, work-life balance and taking the road less traveled. Tangerine Bank CEO Peter Aceto uses inspirational content in the form of standalone tweets, many garnering a handful of retweets and favorites. Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes takes this to the next level, authoring a constant stream of LinkedIn Influencer posts, each on the fundamentals of career success.
Today, executive and brand reputation are one and the same and the onus is on CEOs – new and established alike – to build a compelling digital narrative. Among the many benefits of a solid social presence include improved recruitment efforts, with 76 percent of employees reporting that they would rather work for a social CEO, according to a recent LinkedIn and Altimeter study. Invariably, it’s the executives sharing industry insights, spotlighting team wins and inspiring the wider community that are reaping these benefits and serving as role models for CEO communications on social.
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