The Social CEO: How CEOs Can Leverage Social Media
By Jeffrey Barnhart
The role of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in social media is constantly evolving. The term “Social CEO” is not new. Yet, it’s becoming increasingly more important in today’s digital world given the need for transparency.
New Sprout Social research, reported by MediaPost, found that 86 percent of Americans state that business transparency is more important than ever before. According to Social Report, 7 digital marketing trends that will own 2019 is the rise of the social CEO. The need for transparency could be one of the reasons for this rising trend.
Furthermore, CEOs and other top executives should have a presence, be active and leverage social media to:
- Build strong brand awareness
- Increase trust and loyalty
- Augment audience reach
- Improve prospect validation
- Become an industry thought leader
- Manage reputation and online chatter
- Boost social media engagement
It’s critical for CEOs to be active on social media. However, roughly 60 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are not active on any social media channel. Fewer than 12 percent are active on more than one channel, as stated by Forbes.com.
As the Founder and CEO of CMA, my role in social media since CMA opened its doors, more than 30 years ago, has progressed—going from zero, to steadily ramping up to what it is today. Social media has become such a prevalent part of business, that it’s difficult to remember what it was like before it was born.
The first recognizable social media site, Six Degrees, was created in 1997. As this social media infographic shows, most of the growth happened within a 10-year span—between 2003 and 2013.
Here are steps to how CEOs can leverage social media:
1. Develop a social CEO plan
All businesses and associations need to develop a yearly marketing plan and marketing budget. For the social media strategy part of the plan, include a tactic specifically dedicated to how your CEO will engage in social media.
One of the many benefits to having your CEO leverage social media is that he/she has different audience followers. CEO’s and other business leaders tend follow CEO’s. Ultimately, they’re your target audiences, during the sales process, because they’re the decision-makers.
2. Establish personal social media accounts
In addition to having social media accounts for your business or association, a CEO needs his/her personal social network. A CEO likely will not need all of the same social media accounts to promote its brand.
Instead, look at the ones that make most sense for your CEO and brand. For example, CMA currently has social media accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. At this point, I have personal social media accounts including Twitter and LinkedIn, which are more business focused. I also share through my personal Facebook account and engage with our firm on Instagram.
3. Share compelling content
One way a CEO can engage its audience is by sharing compelling content and smart data, through his/her personal social media accounts. Different types of content include blogs, vlogs, live video, infographics and press releases to name a few.
4. Post on your business or association blog
On top of having your top-level staff byline and post on your blog, your CEO should have a dedicated spot on a regular basis. CEOs can offer information on topics encompassing leadership, culture, entrepreneur insights and vision—which is a more higher-level perspective. This strategy will give your CEO additional visibility and further position him/her as an industry thought leader.
After your business or association shares a blog on its brand’s social media channels, your CEO also needs to share it over his/her social media channels, with a personalized message. The many benefits include expanding your reach to new audiences, through social shares, as well as increasing engagement through comments.
CMA recently kicked off its marketing blog series for 2019, which includes the distribution of one blog each week. The topics are geared toward businesses and associations and offer the latest tips, trends and best practices in branding, digital marketing, website design, social media, public relations, advertising, collateral, association management, event planning, publications and advertising sales.
I’m regularly included in the line-up, along with other senior level executives in the firm. To increase reach and engagement, I share them through my social media channels.
5. Be featured in vlogs
Vlogs (or video blogs) take blogs to a new level by putting a face to the content, which gives the user a more personalized experience. Vlogs not only should be incorporated into your overall social media strategy, but your CEO needs to be regularly featured in those vlogs.
Like the blogs, your CEO should share the vlogs, over his/her social media channels with a personalized message. This process offers the same blog benefits, in addition to appearing more credible and personable because there’s a face attached to the message.
At CMA, we distribute one vlog per month, which corresponds with one of our “hot topic” blogs. I’m regularly featured and share them on my social media channels.
6. Engage and be active on social media
CEOs not only should have a social media presence, through their own brand’s owned media posts, but also should share industry posts from credible sources. Be sure to include your CEO’s personal take or position on the subject. To stay visible and keep its audiences engaged, your CEO should post original brand content, at least once week.
CEOs need to be active and engage on social media through likes and comments. These types of high-level interactions could move leads down the sales funnel.
Do you have a plan for your CEO to leverage social media? Contact us today, to get the conversation started.
Jeffrey Barnhart is the Founder and President of CMA, a full-service communications, marketing and association management firm, which has provided its clients with award-winning and proven results for more than 30 years.