Executives on Social Media: The Value of Social Leadership

Todd Kunsman

Director of Marketing

22 minute read

Executives On Social Media

There is no need to focus on how social media is incredibly powerful for your organization. 

Between having branded company accounts, having a social marketing team, and getting employees to create and share content too – these tactics will have a profound impact on the organization. 

However, many organizations and corporate leaders neglect to understand the value of executives on social media.

Naturally, many high-profile company leaders may be hesitant with the potential risks of harming corporate reputation or making a mistake when it comes to having an active presence online. 

While it is important for executives to be careful with social media, it’s more valuable than ever that company leaders are creating, sharing, and having conversations online. 

 

Why Executives Should Be Active On Social Media

For many enterprise organizations, the idea of executive leaders being more active on social media can be a bit intimidating.

Again, referring back to the intro, they might be concerned of the harm it could do if something libelous or brand-detrimental was shared. 

However, the data has continued to show that the risks of not having leadership on social media is more harmful. And it shows what impact you’re leaving behind that could make the company grow, increase revenue, and become more trusted by audiences. 

According to a report from 2019, it was found that 77% of consumers would rather purchase from a company where executives are active on social media. 

That alone is an immediate reason to switch your stance on executives being active with social media. But if you need more convincing or you think your team will, here are a few more stats:

  • 81% of employees believe that CEOs who engage on social media are better equipped to lead companies in the web 2.0 world. (Go-Gulf)
  • Half of consumers believe that CEOs who don’t use social media will get out of touch with customers. (Magnet Media Labs)
  • 93% of consumers believe that CEO engagement on social media helps communicate company values, shape a company’s reputation, and grow and evolve corporate leadership in times of crisis. (Magnet Media Labs)
  • 43% of executives with socially active CEOs labeled their company’s leader as inspiring compared to only 26 percent of the executives with CEOs not using social media. (Weber Shandwick)
 

Benefits of Socially Active Executives

Hopefully if you are in an executive position or looking to convince leadership to get onboard with social, some of the above stats are starting to help you see the “social media light.” 

But before I get into some tips to get started and examples of socially active executives, I wanted to share more benefits first. 

 

Adds empathy and humanizes leadership

When leadership teams are visible on social media, it begins to humanize the executives. Meaning, audiences are seeing that there are real people with genuine insights leading the company. 

Oftentimes there can be a distrust of company leaders or a sense of cynicism, but by not sounding like a corporate drone online it helps create more empathy for them and the brand they represent. 

 

Better way to communicate with audiences

When executives are active on social media, it gives them better access to audiences directly. 

It’s a great way to be transparent with everyone and be more accessible to customers, employees, prospects, and future hires. This can help build more credibility and trust for not only the leadership teams, but the overall organization. 

 

Gives your company a competitive advantage

At this point, most companies are actively engaging on social media whether from the branded accounts or running paid social ads. 

However, when you have executives sharing on social media, that expands the potential reach and the content is more personal and organic. This also can lead to more employees creating and sharing on behalf of the company too. 

But this all gives your organization a competitive advantage. More people seeing the brand, product or services, and company leaders sharing, creating, and engaging with audiences. 

There is an impact on brand sentiment, how people view leadership, and are more likely to want to do business with your company, want to work for those leaders, or recommend the company to others. 

 

Getting valuable feedback directly from people

Besides being able to communicate specific messages, social media is also a great way to get feedback about the business, product, or services offered. 

This can allow executives to learn more about how they and the brand are viewed, what issues might be addressed, and how they can improve aspects of the company. It’s one of the best ways to get ahead on potential issues, address concerns, and even save the company a ton of money. 

Any great leader will know, they can still learn a lot, grow, and should be listening to the consumer. 

 

Helps extend their own thought leadership

While there are benefits to the company they represent, when executives are on social media they also extend their own thought leadership. 

This can help build their own legacy and future professional opportunities that can be valuable to them on a personal level. Plus, it can strengthen their leadership skills and adopt new strategies by becoming more connected to their audiences. 

 

A place to grow their network and build relationships 

For many leaders in an executive position, it can be difficult to build new professional relationships. But social media is an easy place to do so, especially for the busy working lives of company leaders. 

It’s the quickest way to connect with other business leaders, mentors, future hires, and develop conversations that can help run a company and team. 

 

Ways to inspire other business leaders and future leaders

Lastly, executives on social media is a great way to inspire and teach future leaders and those who aspire to lead a team later on in their careers.

It’s sort of a way to give back, be an inspiration, and teach others while still growing their own networks. Executive thought leadership can be beneficial to their reputation and that of the brand’s, not to mention be seen as industry expertise. 

So while it may be true that employees are still more trusted sources of information than executives, it’s still imperative that leadership joins the conversation and adds value to their industry that is eye to eye with their employees and colleagues on social media.

Afterall, having employees creating and sharing content plus participating executives, is a winning combination for marketing, sales, branding, recruiting, and overall trust. 


Tips to Help Executives on Social Media

Maybe you are in an executive position, say the c-suite or VP or maybe you want to help your executives win on social media, these tips will be helpful with getting started and gaining traction. 

For some, it will be easier to build connections and followings and for others it will take time. But as you read in the previous sections, executives on social media matters. 

 

Align the core topics for posting

What will the executive leaders share on their social media accounts? What topics are valuable to them and what audiences do they want to attract?

While getting executives to share on social media is not necessarily challenging, there still needs to be some strategy at play here. 

Here are a few questions that are good to answer: 

  • What kind of tone or voice will the executives have?
  • What are the core topics of content that will be shared? What specific categories of content will be used?
  • How often will content be shared and what accounts will be most valuable for executives to be active on?

Get in the habit of posting 

When people see your name regularly in their social feeds, they start to view more of your work, thoughts, and content. And when they interact, their networks can also start to see your content too.

Thus building this “network effect” and fueling social growth. In other words, the more executives who are active on social media, the more valuable everyone’s engagement becomes, including executives and employees.

Yet in order for this to work, it requires a habit of consistent posting. For executives, that might be somewhat challenging at first, but it’s important to keep going even if you are not a high profile CEO. 

Often, executives post sporadically and end up just sharing a link to some company news – nothing more.

Unless you are Bill Gates or someone with a well-known personal brand, that probably won’t be an effective strategy to get engagement. 

Nail down the social content strategy, create a posting schedule, and stick to it. 

 

Don’t worry about super polished content

While professionalism will be important for executives on social media, it’s important the content isn’t always overly polished. Remove the cookie cutter copy and ensure the content doesn’t sound robotic. 

People want to see personality, vulnerability, and transparency. 

Some of the best content is posting thoughts, sharing learnings and results, or quickly taking a picture without tons of edit or overlays.

And writing that sounds like how a real colleague speaks, not some corporate jargon that sounds like it ran through the PR machine eight times. 

Having empathy and being human goes a long way in building trust with not only the executives, but the company they work with too. 

 

Make sharing easier with an employee advocacy platform

Using an employee advocacy platform is not only the best way to get employees involved in social sharing and creating content, but also for executives to get involved too. 

For example, EveryoneSocial makes it easy for executives to quickly, share, create and share, or schedule a few posts ahead of time all in just a few minutes. So even with busy schedules, it can take less than 15 minutes to start getting social and making a big impact for the better. 

Also it’s a great tool for executives to have access to other kinds of content sources, their co-workers’ discourse, and share internal announcements about the company. 

Plus, when others see executives engaging and sharing in the platform, it can encourage more employees to get involved too.

Executives on social media are a giant green-light for employer brand and brand ambassadorship. Just another added bonus to what an internal social program can do for your company, employees, and culture. 

 

Be patient on results from social posting

For some executives on social media, building a following on social channels can happen fairly quickly. This is true for universal brands that are innovative and/or polarizing.

As an example I used earlier, it didn’t take Elon Musk long to start finding an audience and having a presence on these networks. 

But for most executives, consistently finding and growing an audience doesn’t happen overnight. It requires finding a consistent posting schedule and sticking with it, even when results aren’t the best. 

Finding the right voice and balance of content involves plenty of experimentation. Occasionally posting or being super inconsistent won’t yield great long-term results, nor will an impact on the brand be felt. 

Results take time and often people quit too soon when a “pop” of results was about to happen. 

 

Examples of Executives on Social Media 

After reading the title of this post or reaching this point of the article, a few examples of prominent executives on social media probably came to mind. Famous execs like Tesla’s leader Elon Musk for example, who sometimes shares some random and controversial things. 

Yet, not every executive will have that “celebrity” status nor needs to be as provocative as some are online. Instead, it’s about being the leader of the brand they represent. 

Showing their human side and being empathetic. Driving conversations about the business, product, service, or being transparent about company culture and news. 

And those company leaders who are active on their social media accounts and have a simple strategy with what they post, are reaping the benefits of these efforts. 

 

American Family Insurance

One of the best social executives is the American Family Insurance CEO, Jack Salzwedel. Not only is the insurance company using EveryoneSocial, but they built a robust strategy for the CEO to become highly engaged and active on social media. 

And it is no coincidence that he is recognized as one of the best CEOs on social media, winning various awards and recognition for his efforts. Like the “Best Leader on Twitter” award from the 2020 CSuite Digital Leadership Awards. 

Additionally, with executive support,  members of American Family Insurance are highly active on social media and engaged in employee advocacy efforts. 

 

NTT Data 

Another executive leading the way on social media is NTT Data’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mona Kiblawi Charif. Not only has she been active from her own personal accounts but she helped pave the way for employee advocacy within the organization. 

Her consistent support of a social program and strategy, along with being visible on her networks has encouraged 1,000 employees to get involved from all departments.

NTT Data now has an extended social reach of over 680,000 – nearly twice the reach of their corporate LinkedIn channel.

 

Colt Technology Services

Executives on social media can represent all industries and live in different areas of the world. Keri Gilder, who is currently CEO of Colt Technology Services is highly active on various social channels. 

While her personal brand is just starting to grow, she actively engages and comments on other posts too in addition to sharing and creating content. This is a great way to start conversations and build professional relationships. 

Additionally, she is a big supporter of social selling and values the impact it has on sales and marketing results.

Once again, another great example of a company with executives online but also supporting the efforts of employees being social. 

 

Lessonly 

While some of the examples above reference organizations that have thousands of employees, smaller companies are winning too with social employees and executives.

You probably follow or are connected with a few yourself.

A key takeaway here is: while scale is important for any advocacy platform or social strategy, getting executives on social media is now imperative regardless of organization size.

One I’m connected with on LinkedIn is the CMO of Lessonly, Kyle Lacy. The company is just approaching 200 employees, but Kyle has taken his social game to the next level

He posts thoughtful content about marketing, running the marketing team, and other cool things he works on. Take a look at his LinkedIn profile and you’ll find tons of engagement and has over 25,000 connections.

Not only is this benefiting his personal brand, but helping Lessonly become a recognized brand himself. 

 

Ready to easily enable employees and executives on social media? Want a better way to keep content organized, let members of the company create, share, or recommend content? Then EveryoneSocial is a perfect platform to add to your tech stack. Schedule your demo to learn more


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