06 Jun Leveraging Your Executives to Drive Brand Objectives
In 2018, most brands have a social media presence. They invest many hours and dollars into developing a steady cadence of high-quality content that aligns with their brand voice and objectives, and that is optimized for each social channel. On a day-to-day basis, these brands focus on how to capture and engage their audience with creative campaigns and influencer content, all while justifying the investment and trying to show ROI. It’s a road well-traveled for most brands.
Most senior executives, however, do not yet have a strong social presence, particularly CEOs. Only 39% of CEOs have any social media presence at all. Why is it that there are so many brands who concentrate on the brand account, and yet often neglect the account of the face of the brand itself? It’s usually a combination of factors, from a lack of understanding of how and why to use social media, to a lack of time to dedicate to it given other priorities. Perhaps in some cases, it’s also hesitance and risk aversion to having such a public, real-time voice.
There is, however, a compelling reason for CEOs and their teams to look at social media more seriously. Recent data is showing a crucial new social media trend driven by, but not exclusive to, millennials.
Millennials are now an important part of the workforce, and therefore an important segment of customers. Millennials’ disposable income is growing, making them an attractive consumer segment. As they continue to progress in their careers, they’re becoming key influencers and decision makers in the B2B purchasing process.
Millennial decisions are fueled by online research
Millennials grew up online and are very much tuned into social media channels, and they use the internet and social media as a source of information for all decisions they make, including where to work and where to buy. However, more interestingly, they are not just turning to the brand’s official properties. They are also looking at key company leaders to get a sense of the company’s vision and values, while also looking at the CEO’s LinkedIn and Twitter to see what they are talking about and what ideas they are sharing.
Executive social media for what?
For some executives, social media serves as the primary platform for their voice. It’s a way for them to inspire their employees and the next generation of talent and customers. Not only that, it’s a way for these executives to directly insert themselves into the research process of millennials and others by joining important conversations online. Social media platforms provide an opportunity to position these leaders as influencers who are worth following.
And it’s working. 76% of executives say that they prefer to work for a “Social CEO.” People are more interested in engaging with people vs. brands, as evidenced by consumers having 3x more trust in their content and a 2x greater click-through rate. This presents a strong opportunity to have executives amplify your brand’s social program and increase engagement with your content. And as brands consider influencers as a way to increase reach and exposure of important messages to their target audience, they should consider that established influencers will more authentically engage with their executives, because it feels more “natural” for a consumer to like, share, or comment on an individual’s post and than it does to do so on a brand’s.
A successful executive social media program
So what will a successful social media program look like for an executive and their team? It usually starts with a strong improvement in awareness-related metrics like increased reach, engagement, and follower count. But this improvement is simply the tip of the iceberg. What you’re ultimately driving towards depends on several factors, such as whether the executive leads a B2B or a B2C company, the industry they’re in, their brand maturity, and what the sales process looks like for them. Based on their personal and business objectives, social media can be an important avenue of exposure to drive things like media opportunities, speaking engagements, and sales or business development inquiries. It can bolster their credibility and position them as a thought leader to garner attention from news outlets, industry publications, conference organizers, and even investors and buyers. It can help to attract top talent to increase their competitive advantage and position them for the future.
Investing in executive influence through social media is the next frontier to generate stronger social media returns. It represents a huge opportunity to strategically amplify and complement the brand’s social presence.