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Ways executives can thrive on social media

Did you know consumers would buy more if a brand’s CEO was on social media? Text100 Singapore’s Julian Chow has four tips to make social executives more effective online.

Did you know consumers would buy more if a brand’s CEO was on social media? Text100 Singapore’s Julian Chow has four tips to make social executives more effective online.

It’s 2016, and we’re in the midst of a period in which technology is driving huge changes in the way businesses interact with their customers. In fact, we know that customers are “always-on” these days (so says McKinsey) and rarely switch off from their digital content consumption – perhaps only when they go to bed.

Because of this, many executives (of their own volition or pushed by their marketing / comms department) have decided to jump on the social media bandwagon and build a presence online to reach this always-on customer. And that’s a smart move. In 2015, the Financial Times reported that 77 percent of consumers would buy more from their favorite brands if the company’s CEO was tweeting.

Additionally, a survey by Brandfog similarly revealed that 75 percent of consumers believe that a C-Suite presence on social media makes a brand seem more honest and trustworthy.

This addresses the “why” aspect of getting on social media. The next question is “how?”

Much wisdom can be garnered from observing the best executives and CEOs on social media – a list compiled by Hootsuite. Based on that list, and trawling through some of these executives’ posts, here are some tips to help you navigate the social highway. Just a caveat – while all these examples are from Twitter, the principles can be applied to any social platform.

Social Executive Tip #1: Be personal, be human

Don’t sound like a press release. Your posts should come from the heart, which is something no marketing content plan can help with. That’s one of the things that executives need to break out of – following a plan. For example, look at @RichardBranson and his tweets about his personal history, his beard, and more. The lesson here is, whilst people want to hear the latest updates, they also want to know more about you. Being personal helps build a connection.

Social Executive Tip #2: Don’t be sterile

Just posting press releases and sharing the same safe content as your corporate handle helps spread the word, but surprises no one. Instead, use social media as a platform to share exclusives and break news, like @ElonMusk. Unfortunately, most corporate executives seem stuck being safe, sometimes not by choice, but due to regulatory and compliance guidelines that need to be followed. If we marketers can help break this gridlock, we could supercharge our social executive programs to a whole new level. If your executives are really interesting people in real life, bring that personality over to social media!

Social Executive Tip #3: Text is boring, visuals exciting

I love how @BillGates’ Twitter feed is full of visuals and videos. It’s no secret that visual content drives better engagement, and there are 37 stats HubSpot has compiled to support that fact! Also, the visual content doesn’t need to be super polished – it just needs to be authentic (following tip #1 above).

Social Executive Tip #4: Know Thy Customers

Do you know what your customers are chatting about, and passionate about, when it comes to your product? Surveys may shed light on that, but these are initiatives which take time and money to execute on. Smart CEOs like Elon Musk spend time on forums like Reddit, where tech lovers and geeks (his audience) tend to congregate and talk. The principle? Know thy customers and where they hang out, and try to get a peek into their world.

Four tips for executives on social platforms infographic

Food For Thought

I hope the above tips will spark some conversation or debate in your organization about how to handle a social executive program. Currently, a lot of these initiatives are conceptualized to achieve thought leadership by curating content written by others or creating original content on topics relevant to one’s business. However, I do feel that these programs can be somewhat dry after a while.

In the long run, it is my belief that any executive has to take charge of his or her own social profile, and not depend solely on the marketing team for content. Working with marketing or PR is a good starting point, but the long-term goal for any marketer should be to let executives find their own style when it comes to social.

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