How CEO’s Can Boost Morale and Brand Visibility Through Social Media

LFGSM Marketing

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Whether your organization is engaged in selling products or services, marketing using social media tools is an essential part of sales and promotion. But should senior officers such as CEOs or other executives be actively promoting your product or service on social media channels? We weigh the concerns and the benefits for business leaders considering a more active role online.

Reputation Risks and Concerns

The foremost fear of most senior level executives is the potential harm they could do to the reputation of their business or brand on social media. While inspired by examples such as Richard Branson of Virgin Group who posts not only about his lifestyle but prolifically about his team members and employees, most organization find the potential risk outweighs the reward.

After all, it is easy to find a number of examples where captains of industry, political leaders or celebrities have expressed themselves in a way that created a public relations issue and outcry that damaged both branding and reputation. One real-time negative comment can be virally shared or retweeted at a staggering speed, and the social backlash from saying “the wrong thing” can be intimidating.

In addition to the risk of a real-time gaffe on social, the Internet has a long memory. Comments and posts are cached by browsers such as Google and Bing, and can be recalled – even after deletion – which makes the idea of sharing reflections or posts concerning to business leaders.

How Many C-Level Executives Are Active on Social Media?

Despite the risk versus reward debate for senior executives, there is truly an advantage to allowing corporate leadership to take an active role in social media. The changing sentiment is reflected in the growing number of active CEOs on social media:

  • LinkedIn dominates as the ‘entry’ social media network with 73% of Fortune 500 CEOs utilizing the medium regularly.
  • 6% of F500 CEOs use an Instagram account.
  • 3% of F500 CEOs have an active Facebook Business Page.

Source: Web October 2, 2015 Adweek.com

While executives have often deemed social media and branding to be the domain of the marketing department, there is now a strong surge from leadership in all sectors to take a more active, personable (but still professional) role online. If consumer purchasing or B2B partnerships are based in part on the likability of a brand, putting a human face and sharing the corporate culture is vital to attracting new business opportunities.

The CEO as a Digital Brand Ambassador

The average C-Level executive may not share the same flamboyant personal lifestyle as Richard Branson – especially publicly on social media, sharing important corporate events, philanthropy and benchmarks help to establish the unique culture of the organization externally. Sharing on social also allows the CEO to align the corporation’s values and communicate with staff, encouraging a shared team environment of innovation and individual contribution.

Executives who share on social not only further the promotional reach of the brand and business, but they also demonstrate by example the correct way to engage on social as a representative of the organization. This inspires staff to share and engage in a meaningful way as digital brand ambassadors.

It is not necessary to be present or to engage regularly on every social media network. What is more authentic for business leaders is to choose channels that suit their own personal preferences, and contribute on a weekly basis.

Ideas for sharing on Social:

  • Charitable giving and philanthropy
  • Special events
  • Personal insights to introduce new products or services
  • Insights about the niche market or sector – LinkedIn blog articles are an ideal method
  • Feedback from brand advocates – responding to one positive comment in social can inspire hundreds or thousands of impressions and good will sentiment

Executives and individuals in a position of authority representing an organization or brand should avoid topics that are typically sensitive in public channels including political, racial or religious commentary.  Negative feedback about other products or brands should also be avoided, and the overall tone of sharing should be positive, inspirational and demonstrate the core values of the organization.

Does your business encourage the participation of senior executives or management on social media?  If so, how does your organization govern personal sharing on social channels by staff and management?  Share your insights with a comment below.

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