CEOs are very busy people, and rightfully so. As the standard bearers of the modern corporation, CEOs are tasked with ensuring all systems run smoothly and profitably on a day-to-day basis. With all that responsibility, should social media activity be yet another item on a CEO’s to-do list?
Absolutely. Consider these facts from the 2015 Social CEO Report by CEO.com and Domo:
- Only 39% of Fortune 500 CEOs have any social profile whatsoever
- Of those active on social media, 70% use only LinkedIn
- Only 50 of the 501 CEOs surveyed are on Twitter and 57 are on Facebook
The social executive community isn’t a complete wasteland; outside of the Fortune 500 bubble, 80% of CEOs around the world, are adopting a social presence. However, there’s still untapped potential for chief executives to bolster their companies’ social media marketing by getting personally involved.
Socially-active CEOs can dramatically improve their companies’ viability and awareness within their target markets in the following ways.
Humanizing the Company
Despite the adage, “It’s not personal, it’s business,” effective business practices are personal. With the current prominence of social media used to gain and nurture leads, that’s truer than ever. Having the CEO maintain active profiles on the biggest social networks (namely, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) is a great way to imbue a social media marketing strategy with the essential “human” factor.
A CEO committed to personal engagement sends the message, “We’re a company that wants a personal connection with you,” can greatly increase prospects’ confidence in making purchases and recommending products to peers. Additionally, CEOs can be uniquely persuasive by using their individual knowledge of the company to engage with potential customers in social media discussions.
To accomplish those things, a CEO must have more than just “token” social profiles. An executive who wants to gear up lead acquisition and engagement via social can do some or all of the following:
- Infusing her personality in social posts. A dry social feed that only consists of outbound links reads like a robot, not a human being. While all content should take the target audience into consideration, CEOs should infuse their personality in social messages by honing an individual tone and occasionally sharing inspiring thoughts or personal anecdotes.
- Sharing influencer-worthy content. While personality is good for the majority of social content, including both personalization and outside sources provide a balanced and varied feed. Many social posts should consist of outbound links. Tweets with links, for example, garner 86% more Retweets than those without. But those links should be to powerful content with original ideas and calls-to-action.
- Posting social messages that encourage engagement. Don’t just make statements; ask questions and invite commentary. It’s relatively easy to demonstrate “humanness” through a willingness to learn. Asking for comments or opinions is an effective way for a business to increase engagement, and potentially much more so if the social initiative is spurred by the CEO.
- Following up. Use a social media marketing platform to “listen” for company mentions, taking brand sentiment into account. Then, if the CEO directly addresses questions and concerns posed about her company, it shows a commitment to earning trust.
Simply put, when a social CEO is the prominent human face of a B2B company, that company is easier and more appealing to do business with.
Setting an Example for Employee Advocacy
If you’re hoping for your employees to become brand evangelists, why not have the top stakeholder set the ideal example?
The CEO’s presence on social media might just be the necessary catalyst for a thriving advocacy program. If the CEO “walks the walk,” she can demonstrate firsthand the value of connecting with customers and can make employees feel important enough to drive social engagement themselves.
To get it right from the beginning, the whole process might broadly look like the following:
- Instituting an employee advocacy program with incentives and instructions on social best practices.
- Having the CEO personally connect to employees on social networks and demonstrate how she uses social media to begin conversations and build engagement.
- Encouraging employees, bolstered by an executive support and an invigorating brand message, to reach out with their own social media presence.
In BRANDfog’s survey of 1,000 corporate employees, 83% of US respondents and 73% of UK respondents
felt that CEOs can build better connections with customers, employees, and investors through social media involvement. CEOs who use social media to connect to all parts of the corporate ecosystem effectively show employees “how it’s done,” increasing morale and proving to employees their personal stake in the company’s success.
Connecting with Customers
One of the biggest priorities of any B2B marketing department is to forge strong connections with both prospective and existing customers. With a CEO’s social presence doing some of the work, achieving maximum customer engagement and loyalty becomes much easier.
A social CEO has the power, as a “chief salesperson” of sorts, to persuade prospective customers to consider new ideas and solutions, getting more of them to respond to thought leadership content and enter the sales funnel. Through social involvement, CEOs can also prove an unwavering commitment to the satisfaction of current customers, and that access to C-level leadership is not out of reach.
According to an internal study by LinkedIn, half of all users are likely to buy from companies they engage with on the business-focused network. Whether the platform is LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, and whether a buyer has questions or needs to a troubleshoot a product, a personal touchpoint initiated by the CEO is the ultimate illustration of dedication to customer service. When executives personally respond to support queries, offer discounts or special promotions, and present advocacy opportunities, they create goodwill among customers, leading to loyalty.
Social media is one of the most important tools in the modern age for corporate recruitment. With a CEO personally involved in those efforts, top job candidates get bigger insights into corporate culture and learn substantially more about the people they’ll be working with—and more of them will be persuaded to apply.
Jobvite reports that 59% of recruiters rate socially-sourced job candidates as the “highest quality,” and CEOs can play a potent role in securing those stellar candidates. Executives can attract new hires by socially sharing facts about the corporate culture, as well as images and videos of employees’ work days, interesting projects and professional “field trips.”
A CEO can take it even further by personally engaging with high-level candidates, and can unearth engagement opportunities with a social listening campaign that targets job seekers and budding industry thought-leaders.
A social CEO makes for a company that’s socially smart
For modern B2B enterprises seeking future-proof market presence, CEOs should build profiles and stay active on social media. The benefits that come with an executive presence in social channels—better lead engagement and customer service, as well as invigorated advocacy and recruitment—are well worth the effort.