08 Oct Executive Spotlight: Jack Welch
If your company’s chief executive is in the news, you always hope it’s for a positive reason. In the case of General Electric (GE), the company’s CEOs have unfortunately had a tumultuous relationship with the media in the recent past. Only last week, GE’s CEO John Flannery made headlines when he was ousted from the company after only 14 months. Part of the reason for such a quick change may have been the large shoes that both Flannery and his predecessor Jeff Immelt failed to fill: those of influential executive Jack Welch.
Jack Welch was the illustrious CEO for GE from 1981 to 2001, during which time he garnered the reputation of one of America’s greatest business leaders. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that his social media channels also serve as an excellent model for thought leadership. Now retired, Jack recognizes that LinkedIn is a crucial channel on which to dedicate himself to promoting his books and conferences to other aspiring leaders. Let’s shift the Executive Spotlight onto how Jack effectively uses LinkedIn content and the platform to accomplish this goal.
Jack knows his own reputation as an influential executive figure and generally caters well to what his followers on LinkedIn are interested in hearing from him. Specifically, the majority of his followers follow him to learn business leadership skills. Although Jack surely has insightful opinions on other topics, in the context of the professional social network, Jack likely recognizes that leadership is what he is best known for, and therefore what his content should focus on.
Additionally, rather than simply sharing articles about leadership by strangers less accomplished than himself, Jack knows that his followers come to his channel to read what he himself has to say. As a result, he shares Forbes articles that quote him as an expert, videos of himself from his website, and his own LinkedIn blog posts. His LinkedIn audience follows him to hear what he thinks, not another leadership guru, and, overall, Jack delivers well on that front.
Regular Posting Cadence
Unfortunately, LinkedIn is often a neglected platform for executives. Many executives find it easier to blurt out their thoughts in a quick 280-character Tweet several times a day than to plan out thoughtful long-form content to share on a professional network such as LinkedIn.
Jack, however, posts content regularly, at a rate of approximately twice a week. This accomplishes several things for his account. Firstly, new potential followers can see that he has posted recently, meaning this account is still active and worth following. Secondly, by posting regularly, Jack keeps himself at top of mind for his existing followers and keeps his content at the top of their feed. As a result, these followers will come to either consciously or subconsciously expect to see his content on a regular basis.
Although your goal may be to position yourself as an expert thought leader, few people respect leaders that act superior to the point of being aloof and unapproachable. As we’ve previously recommended in our blog post Building Influence Through Thought Leadership, engaging actively, and authentically, with followers and other influencers is one of the most critical aspects of establishing oneself as a thought leader.
Jack is as consistent in his community engagement as he is with his posting. He wishes congratulations to colleagues, ‘likes’ relevant posts, and ‘likes’ comments on his posts. By engaging with his audience in this way, his followers are much more encouraged to engage with his content in return.
Although Jack’s activity level and posting cadence are exemplary, we at Influential Executive believe that there is always room for improvement. In Jack’s case, he could strengthen his profile by including even more Jack Welch-centric content. Currently, at least half of his content is centered around his wife and business partner Suzy Welch.
Although promoting her content is beneficial to himself, as they are business partners and promoting one’s own spouse is quite normal, there is certainly a trade-off between promoting Suzy and delivering content that may not resonate as effectively with his audience. Jack’s many followers likely sought out his profile to listen to the famous Jack Welch. While Suzy Welch is a highly successful individual in her own right, an overload of Suzy-centric content could put off some followers who came to the page to engage with Jack.
Jack currently has over 6.8 million followers and each of his posts garner thousands of likes each. Despite having an imperfect profile, there is no question that Jack Welch knows how to establish himself online as a thought leader just as effectively as he established himself as a business leader so many years ago.
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