Since the advent of leadership and business, hanging out in the right places with the right circles of people has been linked to success. In recent decades, this meant getting invites to exclusive social gatherings, attending top universities or general networking. But considering the twin rise of remote work and technological advancements serving as an equalizer, social media is becoming the new place to be.
3 Mistakes CEOs Make on Social Media
- Only using the company profile when they should build connections through their personal profiles.
- Pushing company marketing materials, which will make people tune out.
- Posting too infrequently, when two to five times a week will help you gain relevance as a subject matter expert.
CEOs especially should establish a presence on social media to better understand their audience, share key messages about their company, attract top talent and build relationships that could lead to revenue and investment opportunities. Yet only 48 percent of all S&P 500 and FTSE 350 CEOs have a social media presence, and those who do may find that it’s much more difficult to captivate people’s attention online than it is in the boardroom.
With so many social media platforms to choose from and noise to compete with, here are five ways to get your message noticed.
Focus on the Hook
The first line of a post is a key determining factor of its success. This is true regardless of what platform you’re posting on and if you’re sharing text or a video. Many social sites favor bold, provocative statements that stand out immediately, then follow through with context and serve as conversation starters. My company’s analysis of 1,015 posts in 2023 found that as a hook gets more provocative, post views increase linearly.
Posts with a compelling graphic do 28 percent better than posts without one. However, research shows that if an image is too generic it can have the reverse effect and cause your post to perform poorly. Visuals to support your posts should be:
- An original photo or design, such as an infographic or chart. Stock imagery and images taken from another online source are a dead giveaway that you’re not sharing something unique.
- Relevant to the content you’re posting about. For example, posting a picture of your dog when talking about employee engagement just to get attention is counterproductive.
Native video, meaning video that’s uploaded directly rather than through a link, has also been associated with better-performing posts. While it’s more common for CEOs to build a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter rather than video-focused platforms, some executives, such as serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and fittingly, TikTok CEO Shou Chew, have successfully garnered a following on YouTube and TikTok.
Differentiate CEO Posts From Company Posts
We all know of a CEO who only posts a few times a year and when they do, it’s usually a generic statement resharing company news. When users follow CEOs on social media, they expect to see posts focused on personal stories of leadership, bold perspectives on new technology or commentary on timely topics.
You must give your audience a reason to follow you that stands alone from why they follow your company’s account. Here are some guidelines for doing so:
- Say something original. Your posts shouldn’t sound like they were written and approved by your company’s PR department, and they shouldn’t parrot what every other leader in your industry is already saying. The whole purpose of establishing a personal brand on social media is just that – to get personal.
- Think about what you can speak on with some authority. While you want to get personal, it’s also important to have some sort of strategy at play that helps you attract the kind of following you desire. What topics are your audiences interested in that you can shed light on?
- Avoid a hard pitch for your company. Organic social media is about building relationships, not trying to convert each one of your connections into a customer.
Aim for Consistency
As with any budding business or marketing effort a CEO undertakes, it’s easy to get caught up in the belief that your approach must be flawless to be effective. In reality, building a social media presence that cuts through the clutter is more of a trial-and-error process. CEOs who garner loyal followers are those who come across as real and authentic. What that means to you may vary from what it means to another CEO. In general, it helps to let your personality shine, be vulnerable when appropriate, and let the veil down about what goes on at the C-level.
If you start posting now, you can get a sense of what works and what doesn’t and refine your social media strategy as you go.
Rather than aiming for perfection, aim for consistency. Increasing from two to three posts per week to five posts per week can lead to up to a 3.5-fold increase in monthly views and up to a 3.7-fold increase in monthly engagement. As long as your posts are high quality, there’s no downside to posting more frequently.
Don’t get discouraged when you don’t become an influencer overnight. You may never build the perfect posting schedule, come up with topics that everyone and their mother can relate to or strike the ideal balance of professionalism and humor. But if you start posting now, you can get a sense of what works and what doesn’t and refine your social media strategy as you go. Keep posting, liking, commenting and engaging and the followers will come with time.
Listen and Engage
As a CEO, it’s your responsibility to directly listen to customers and employees. Social media offers a great way to find out exactly what customers say about your product and gauge the challenges the general workforce faces. Taking the time to scroll social media and genuinely listen to what people in your industry are saying will make you a more informed leader and allow you to thoughtfully engage in relevant discussions.
Focus on adding value to conversations rather than selling yourself or your company.
Do this by commenting on existing discussions, contributing to collaborative articles or sending a private message in response to a post. Focus on learning from others, respecting their point of view, building relationships and adding value to conversations rather than selling yourself or your company. In a realm where everyone has something to say or a grievance to voice, simply listening and empathizing can go a long way to cut through the clutter and actually benefit from participating in social media.
As the face of the company, CEOs and other executive leaders have the potential to function as brand extensions, enhancing its image and fostering a deeper connection with the target audience. When CEOs can effectively establish a social media presence that cuts through the clutter, it humanizes them, allowing the audience to see that company leaders are more than just faceless decision-makers.
While there’s nothing wrong with the networking techniques of yesteryear and networking in person can only help your professional life, those tactics can’t compare to the hundreds and thousands of connections you can reach with the click of a button when you build a strong social media presence.