If you’ve looked for a job in the last decade, you’ve most likely used LinkedIn. And the odds are good that you not only looked at the business profile but also checked out leadership team profiles on LinkedIn to get a better idea of the company’s culture and ethos.
If you’ve done this, did it impact how you felt about a potential employer? Did it make a difference whether the company’s executives were actively posting? Did you care if they had well-thought-out profiles?
If you answered “Yes,” you’re not alone. The statistics are staggering: 86 percent of job seekers use social media as part of their search strategy. And 82 percent consider employer brand and reputation before applying for a position.
It’s not just potential employees engaging in this kind of research. Most B2B buyers use social media as a critical component of their pre-sales research.
Why Executive Social Media Matters
Clients often ask why it makes a difference whether or not an executive is active on social media. It matters because it reflects on the company’s brand. Being active on social media shows an investment on the executive’s part in the organization’s branding and image.
Brands work hard to make a positive impression on social media, to be engaging and interactive, and to build a sense of community. It’s a natural fit for C-level executives to be part of that effort. After all, these leaders are the faces the public associates with the brand. They’re constantly speaking with customers and employees. And what they have to say sets the tone for the company.
There are numerous paths executives might chart on their social media journey.
They might choose to become active on social media to establish thought leadership and become a voice within their industry. Some use social media primarily to promote the company’s initiatives or to recognize employee contributions. Others might use social media to highlight corporate responsibility efforts and support charitable causes.
These are all valid use cases for executive social media, and each should be carefully considered. No matter which path executives take, a central question can help focus their social media efforts: “How does this add value for the brand?”
Getting Started With Executive Social Media
As with any nascent marketing initiative, a new executive social media program requires careful planning and attention to fundamental details to ensure a successful launch.
For starters, ensure your executive profile page is up-to-date on each platform. Audit the profile’s images and content to make sure everything is professional and in line with the brand image you want to project.
The profile picture should usually be a professional headshot in a style that fits the company’s brand image and suits the executive’s personality. You’ll also want to pay attention to the header image on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Is there a nice header and a professional background image? This could be a picture of a speaking engagement, a corporate logo or tagline, an award, or even a beautiful scenery shot.
The most crucial piece of any social media profile is the “About” section. Generally, this section should be written in the first person. It should tell a story about the person leading or managing the company. Making this personal helps the audience connect with the profile and get a sense of both the individual and the corporate brand.
Developing a Content Plan
Once the profile is ready, there’s still an essential step before it’s time to start sharing content: setting goals.
There are a couple of key questions that you want to ask at this point: Who do you want to build awareness with and engage? Is it other executives, marketers, salespeople, or all of the above?
The answers to these questions will help create guidelines for selecting content to post and help you clarify goals and benchmarks for your executive social media presence.
When it comes to content, there are multiple valid approaches to choose from. The most successful executive social media feeds tend to “mix and match” these tactics.
Curated content will likely form the backbone of your executive social media strategy. Executives often share articles and insights with the management team via email, and these articles could form the basis of a curated social media strategy. Of course, people want to know what executives are thinking, so it’s important to share original thoughts along with links to articles. A brief statement about why the content matters, a critical point from the executive’s perspective, or—occasionally—even some pushback on the linked article are all ways to add value to curated content on an executive social media feed.
Authenticity is the name of the game when sharing this kind of content. The last thing you want to do is share articles simply to share them. If it’s not adding value, skip it.
Speaking of authenticity, it’s also important to humanize the executive social media presence with unique content that resonates with the executive. Some executives post about their children and family life. Others include content related to hobbies, sports, or other pursuits. Naturally, this content shouldn’t be the bulk of the feed, but incorporating these glimpses into an executive’s personal life helps audiences to connect.
It’s important to note one other content priority as well. Highly effective executive social media feeds do an excellent job of shining a light on others.
An excellent way for executives to make their social media presence about others is to highlight employee milestones and accomplishments. Sharing the great work happening within the business helps to bolster your company’s employer brand and boost employee morale. It also speaks volumes about the work culture and the executive’s leadership style. That kind of thing matters to potential employees and potential customers alike.
Is It Working?
Of course, the crucial question is whether or not an executive social media presence is “working”? There are a few helpful touchstones to keep track of:
- Tone. The executive feed should have its own consistent style that is harmonious with the brand’s tone on social media.
- Consistency. Is the feed full of regularly updated content? Are the posts thoughtful and focused on adding value?
- Sharing the spotlight. Employee highlights, sharing others’ achievements, and promoting community content should be a regular part of the executive social feed.
- Readership and engagement. How are the feed’s metrics doing? Look for increases in follower count, impressions, and engagement activities (likes, comments, shares).
CEOs and other C-level executives have an essential role as the most senior leaders in an organization. In today’s environment, one of the most critical roles is shaping corporate culture and setting the tone for the company. One of the best places to do that work is on social media platforms.
Executive activity on social media is no longer a question of “if” but of “when.” People want to know the people behind the brands they do business with. And that begins with the C-suite.
Ready to get started with B2B social media marketing? Let’s talk!