“Twitter, is that still around?” When it comes to social media, some CEOs have a lot of catching up to do. There are plenty of benefits when an executive shares their perspectives appropriately. Read on to discover why it’s worthwhile to take a spin on Twitter, and learn the right strategies to become a “Social CEO.”
3 Good Reasons to Start “Chirping”
“In the future, successful executives will no longer be measured solely on their stock prices,” says Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct Canada. It’s predicted that much more value will be placed on the opinions of clients and colleagues, as well as their ability to communicate digitally. This is how CEOs can improve their chances:
- Trust and solidarity with their company
- Show the more personal side of their business
- Generate sympathy and understanding for their company
A Classic Win-Win Situation
Karl-Thomas Neumann is a pioneer when it comes to top managers joining the social web. Since March 2013, he’s served as the Director of the Executive Board for Adam Opel AG. The 55-year old manager publishes trade-related posts on classic business networks, videocasts on Youtube, and pictures of his own private amateur sports achievements on Instagram. But what are the benefits of such a social presence? The answer is enlightening. Neumann:
- identifies with his employer, even as a private citizen
- is viewed by followers as an expert
- offers users a view into Opel as a relatable, human company
Siemens also recognizes social presence as a requirement of the times. In 2013, Michael Stenberg, Global VP of Digital Marketing at Siemens, brought the “Executive Enablement” program to life. He began teaching the executives at Siemens about social media. The goal is to develop Siemens managers into influencers for company-specific topics. After just a short time, it was already proving to be worth the investment of time, and the manager’s interactions began to positively reflect on the whole company. The fact that all employees are allowed to use social media at work has also contributed to its success.
“You can’t get a broad reach in one day,” says Stenberg. To build up your online social presence as a CEO, a little strategic planning is definitely necessary.
The Right Strategy for Social Media Presence
1. Inform and discuss
CEOs should share and publish content while positioning themselves as experts, without boring their readers. Posts should offer the reader additional value, inform readers, and also spark discussion. But finding the right tone isn’t always easy. That’s why it’s important to mix it up!
2. Post regularly
Important: social media accounts that sit empty and dormant for weeks at a time lose interest very quickly. Regular and frequent updates are necessary for social media – filling out an editorial plan for each platform can be very helpful. “Frequency” doesn’t necessarily mean sending out five tweets each day. Since first Tweeting in July 2013, Tim Cook has only tweeted 270 times, and still amassed a follower base of more than 3.4 million followers.
3. Share relevant posts – or retweet
Acquiring as many followers as Tim Cook is simply unrealistic for most CEOs. The head of Opel, Neumann, only has 13,600 followers on Twitter. But thanks to retweets, other social media channels, and a strong media presence, his messages reach more than 3 million people. So with that in mind, it makes sense that Neumann is considered to be one of the top managers in Germany, and helps to position Opel as a modern and innovative company.
Find The Right Channel
The more social networks that a CEO uses, the higher the reach. But it’s not advisable to post the same content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, social business networks, Instagram, and YouTube. The better strategy is to post special content on each channel, to reach each varied audience and reader.
- For visual storytelling, YouTube is the best
- Trade stories and industry news can be published on social business networks
- More personal posts, like weekend activities and vacations, can be posted on Facebook and Instagram
Stenberg advises strongly against using a generic corporate account and username, like “SiemensCEO.” Social CEOs need to put a face to a name, as the primary goal of social media is to have personalized exchanges with potential new customers and interested users.
Social Media is an amplifier for relevant corporate news, product information or PR strategies, as long as they’re not too obviously packed as advertisements. “Everyone must decide for themselves if they choose to interact with social media, and if they feel comfortable doing so,” says Neumann. With the overwhelming success of “Social CEOs” in mind, we’d say it’s certainly worth a shot.
A Quick Guide to Becoming a Social CEO