Love it or hate it, social media has the power to grow your business. But for some, it can seem like a daunting place, especially if you are representing your business. There may be questions about what you can/cannot say on social media and whether it ties in with your company’s ethos and branding. Executives have the added pressure of leading by example.
Even with all this in mind, social media should not be ignored by executives and with the right strategy, it can have the power to grow business exponentially.
In this month’s editor’s question, three experts offer their advice on how executives can use social media more effectively. A common consensus is that LinkedIn is the best social media platform for executives.
LinkedIn has over 930 million users and 58 million companies use it worldwide. It connects you to other businesses and individual professionals, and also provides a platform to reach out to customers. It is also a place to recruit new employees.
Chris Buchanan, Client Solutions Director, Dell Technologies South Africa, said: “Social media channels cater to different audiences and serve different purposes. LinkedIn is a great platform for executives to establish thought leadership, connect with other professionals and share industry insights.”
He went on to outline clear steps which can “help you move from social media aspiration to effective execution, governance and measurement”.
Damon Anderson, UK Managing Director, Employment Hero, believes it’s about showcasing your personality, your views and your vision/values as a leader.
He said: “As the leader of a business, there is almost no better person to share news about your organisation. Using social media to explain why you have made certain decisions, how they underpin performance and how they are driving strategy are important. It’s also important to do this with personality, allowing your passion and drive to shine through.”
And Sarah Evans, Head of Digital PR, Energy PR, emphasises that social media – used in the right way – is a powerful tool.
She said: “For executives and business leaders, there’s lots of potential that remains untapped. There are a few reasons for this: lack of interest or belief in what social can deliver, serious lack of time, not knowing exactly what to post, or concern you can’t post consistently. However, the barrier to entry is lower than you might think, and the benefits once you take the plunge are plentiful.”
Chris Buchanan, Client Solutions Director, Dell Technologies South Africa:
Social media gives organisations a chance to move hearts and minds on a massive, but also hyper-local, scale. The combination of engagement, empathy and creativity gives executives unprecedented opportunities to change their businesses from the inside out. With the right strategy and support from their marketing teams, executives can extend brand reach to their social media pages.
Here are some tips for creating an effective executive social media strategy.
Define what you hope to achieve. Goals can vary depending on your role, the industry you operate in and the target audience. You might want to establish yourself as a thought leader, increase brand awareness or connect with customers and employees. Ensure that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable and relevant.
Choose the best social media channels
Social media channels cater to different audiences and serve different purposes. LinkedIn is a great platform for executives to establish thought leadership, connect with other professionals and share industry insights.
Once you’re on LinkedIn, it’s time to plan content. An ideal social media page should include similar content that depicts an insightful narrative aligned with the corporate brand, as well as leverage existing content including company announcements and applicable news articles and studies. There’s more to it than sharing a link to an article – your social content must provide insight and value to the reader. For example, a CEO could offer insights into how a recently announced technology will impact customers or the industry.
Social media is an open communication platform, and it can lead to followers sharing every last thought on a company’s products and positions. The best way to handle those comments, both good and bad, is to be highly responsive. The corporate communications and/or social media team should consistently review the executive’s pages to respond to all feedback that comes through as efficiently as possible – ideally within 24 hours.
Create a schedule and iterate from learnings over time
Establish a consistent posting schedule and monitor your performance. To establish recognition and provide plenty of opportunities for users to engage with you, they need to regularly see your content on their social feeds. Write in your own voice, share your thoughts and experiences. Track and evaluate results and iterate strategies over time to optimise the engagement. Analyse metrics of engagement and adjust the strategy accordingly. Be flexible and willing to adapt as needed to ensure the social media strategy stays effective.
As you can see, there are multiple routes to building an effective, enterprise-wide social media practice. The steps outlined above can help you move from social media aspiration to effective execution, governance and measurement.
Damon Anderson, UK Managing Director, Employment Hero:
With so many social media channels to choose from it’s hard to know which ones are best to join, and when you do, how best to use them. This is particularly so for business leaders and senior managers who want to build relationships with potential new clients and industry peers, who want to engage with employees and who want to build their personal brand.
Social media has been around for years, so why is this nut still so hard to crack?
As one of the oldest social media platforms and with almost one billion users, LinkedIn has become the world’s largest online business network. It still remains the place to be for all business professionals, and for those who have got it right, it has created global business influencers, such as Gary Vaynerchuk and Stephen Bartlett.
But, social media is so much more than becoming a LinkedIn star, it’s about communication, engagement and relationship building. It’s about showcasing your personality, your views and your vision/values as a leader. Here are a few ways you can look to do this across a range of social media platforms, not just LinkedIn, but TikTok and Instagram, too.
Share best practice
Use social media platforms to share best practice in your industry and to drive open conversations about difficult topics. Bringing peers together to share their experiences – the challenges, the pitfalls and the opportunities – helps entire industries to learn, develop and grow for the better.
Show, don’t tell
I always try to use photos of myself, my team, clients, or capture the reception room at a networking event. I always find I get more engagement with my posts when I share these types of images. This is also true of personal posts about myself or my teams. They tend to get the most interaction. People buy from people and invest in people, of course. Appearing more human is now so much more important, than just reposting a piece of industry news from a client.
Employee engagement isn’t all about net promoter scores and surveys, it’s also about giving thanks and shouting out about the great work your team is doing. You need to be mindful about connecting with employees on social media, but in a public forum, it’s good to showcase your people and the work they do.
News and views
Sharing news that will engage your followers is always a good thing, but what is better is sharing your views and experiences too. Bringing to life how something has impacted you, your business, your employees.
Bring company updates to life
As the leader of a business, there is almost no better person to share news about your organisation. Using social media to explain why you have made certain decisions, how they underpin performance and how they are driving strategy are important. It’s also important to do this with personality, allowing your passion and drive to shine through.
Sarah Evans, Head of Digital PR, Energy PR:
Social media – used in the right way – is a powerful tool. We’d argue even more so in the B2B space, specifically LinkedIn. Unlike many of the B2C platforms like Instagram and TikTok, on LinkedIn, there is still plenty of organic engagement for the taking, so you can grow your reach and your influence without having to spend money on advertising. Many professionals on the platform have a remit to post and engage on the platform, so your audience is already a proactive and receptive one.
For executives and business leaders, there’s lots of potential that remains untapped. There are a few reasons for this: lack of interest or belief in what social can deliver, serious lack of time, not knowing exactly what to post, or concern you can’t post consistently. However, the barrier to entry is lower than you might think, and the benefits once you take the plunge are plentiful.
Relentlessly build and maintain relationships
We’ve seen a huge increase in client requests to manage individual social accounts, as well as company ones – and for good reason. Personal profiles get far more high-quality engagement. People would much rather connect with an individual than a faceless logo.
It’s not just one-way posting that matters: the conversation is much richer too. You could spark conversation, listen to customer insights, or gather industry knowledge. Executives should connect and engage speakers at events they’ve been to, new business leads… anyone they meet along their professional way. And once you’re connected, take a genuine interest in their content when it pops up in your feed. These relationships pay dividends when you’re recruiting, driving new business, or impressing shareholders.
You’re an extension of the brand
The biggest asset of a business is its people, so lean into this. Vocal and authoritative business leaders can amplify their brand’s messaging and do so in an authentic way. If your business already posts a steady stream of content from its social profiles, then sharing these with your own layer of commentary is a quick win.
It’s a great way to role model to your current and prospective employees how passionate and proud you are of where you work.
Become a go-to industry expert
The B2B space was doing influencer marketing long before Love Island came along. Social media is the ideal medium to grow prominence and position yourself as a thought leader. The more visible you are, the stronger your voice, presence and credibility become. By discussing your take on the latest industry news – either by posting or commenting on other people’s posts – and what it means for your sector, you’ll be front of mind as a thought leader to journalists and prospects alike.Click below to share this article