Glenn is the founder and CEO of GaggleAMPa platform for employee advocacy and engagement.
If you run a business, it can be difficult to get out of your ivory tower and get information that hasn’t been filtered through the lens of a team that wants to please you. Out of your ticket? Social media.
This is evident from much-cited research from 2020 by the Brunswick Group only half of all S&P 500 and FTSE 350 CEOs are on social media. What a missed opportunity. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and even Instagram and Facebook are phenomenal tools for staying close to the market, building relationships and establishing yourself as an industry leader.
Here’s why every CEO should be active on social media and how to get the most value out of your time spent online.
For executives, using social media is a way to practice what you preach. This assumes that part of your preaching is about the marketing power of social media, and I hope you have. That’s according to a study by the Pew Research Center 72% of Americans using social media. How else can you reach such a large number of prospects and customers without leaving your office?
If you don’t use social media, you risk losing market share to business leaders who do. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to trust a company whose leaders are into social media.
A social strategy can also improve recruitment. According to 2022 research from Brunswick82% of employees believe it is important for business leaders to communicate the company’s vision and values through social media channels.
You set aside time each week to do things like check direct reports and review critical data streams. You just need to extend this mindset to social media. Whether you’re new to social media or stepping up your game, 15 minutes a day or even a week is all it takes to reap huge benefits. Try dividing your social media efforts into two main use cases: listen and engage.
As a leader, much of the information you receive is influenced by the perspective of your internal team. If you don’t validate what you learn, you can fall victim to a groupthink scenario. As a leader, you have a duty to hear directly from your market. Plus, it’s cheaper and faster than hopping on a plane to personally connect with the audience (although I think you should too).
Engagement means sharing your thoughts and adding value to marketplace discussions—whether it means publishing a post on LinkedIn, contributing to others’ posts, or sending a private message in response to a post. This is how you establish yourself as a market leader, communicate your personal voice and build relationships. When approaching, focus on learning from others and adding value, not selling. As the adage goes, “If you ask for money, you will get advice. If you ask for advice, you get money.”
In fact, one of my company’s biggest customers is a result of this kind of interaction. I reached out to someone on Twitter at a company we wanted to work with. I wanted his advice on working with that company and asked if he would be open to providing feedback on our product. He had moved companies but agreed to a video call and had some great advice on starting a partnership with his previous employer.
He then asked if he could test our product at his new company. His efforts with our platform caught the attention of companies. They promoted him to run social media for the entire organization. He took our platform with him and rolled it out worldwide. This all came from a single Tweet simply asking for advice. Not every Tweet or post leads to something like this, but if you’re looking to add value rather than sell, you’ll be amazed at the results.
Here are additional tips for making the most of your time on social media:
• Hang in the right places. Work with your marketing team to understand the platforms and communities that matter most to your audience and spend your time on those.
• Share the love. Contribute to others’ posts by sharing feedback, commenting with extra points, or simply praising them for their strong content.
• Understand when to talk privately. Responding to a public thread is a great way to showcase your perspective. However, sometimes the best way to get in touch with a person is to message them directly.
• Show existing customers that you value them. For example, recently my customer success team let me know that one of our customers achieved a great result using our platform. I have sent our contact a private message on LinkedIn. Something short and sweet, like, “Hey, you’re crushing it.” Thank you for letting us be part of your program!”
• Be yourself, be humble. Oftentimes, executives think their social media presence should be PR or marketing approved and hyper-polished. But the executives who get the most attention on social media are the ones who come across as real and authentic — the ones who show their true personalities, admit flaws, ask for input, and share pain points and struggles.
• Training wheels are okay, but ride your own bike. Hiring an agency to get your social media presence off the ground is fine, but I recommend treating it as a learning experience. You want to be the one to gain insights from the market and share your authentic point of view. If you rely on reports compiled by a bureau, you haven’t really left that ivory tower.
Like it or not, executives have a responsibility to be active on social media. Don’t think of it as a burden; see it as a valuable way to learn from the market, make your voice heard and connect with customers and prospects.
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.