30 Jun Using LinkedIn to Inspire Others
Thushara Karunaratne is an entrepreneur and CEO in the medical diagnostic industry in Sri Lanka.
Recently, Karunaratne shared a post on LinkedIn about his personal struggle with having vitiligo, a skin condition that causes white patches to appear on the skin. He explained that he was hesitant about uploading a new profile picture due to his skin condition because he thought it might make his connections uncomfortable. His post went viral with many news sites covering the post and the impact it has had.
By being open about his insecurities, Karunaratne encourages other executives to be honest and more comfortable on social media. He is an inspirational business leader and his post works toward ending the stigma around vitiligo. In this article, we analyze the benefits of using social media as a platform to share authentic content that takes on more personal meaning.
What Made Karunaratne’s Social Media Post So Effective?
Karunaratne used his LinkedIn account to share a photo of himself along with a short commentary about having vitiligo. Showing vulnerability on social media can be extremely difficult for many people, especially for executives and business leaders since they are opening themselves up to the entire online community.
However, Karunaratne did just that in his post shown above. It has since gone viral on LinkedIn, receiving well over 50,000 reactions, over 3,700 comments, and over 90 shares. He has received an outpouring of support in the comments and has been active in responding to many of them.
What made Karunaratne’s social media post so effective? First, he uses a very authentic tone and speaks from the heart. He is very open about his struggles with updating his social media profile picture and it’s this vulnerability that makes him more relatable. While many of the people who reacted or commented on his post may not have vitiligo, his words serve to inspire them nonetheless.
For leaders in any industry, attending conferences and events is important in order to stay updated within their industry and to maintain their connections. Yet, Karuanaratne candidly shares that since developing vitiligo, he has felt insecure and avoided many of these in-person meetings. Sharing his photo on social media is a significant step that has yielded positive responses from the LinkedIn community, with many praising his bravery and leadership.
Another reason we believe this post went viral is that the photo isn’t overly polished but appears to be taken with a phone camera. It is still high-quality in that it isn’t blurry or pixelated, but it’s clearly not a professional shot taken in a studio. It’s a more personal snapshot that adds to the authenticity of the post.
The Benefits of Being Vulnerable on Social Media
While the idea of being “vulnerable” is often seen as a negative trait, perceptions have shifted over the years. This is especially true in conjunction with the fact that soft skills are more in demand than ever before and how social media has bridged the gap between business leaders and their audience.
One major benefit of using social media to portray a more candid side is that it humanizes CEOs and helps dismantle the concept that executives are “cold” or far removed from the general public. By showing vulnerability, followers, employees, and other connections in their network are better able to relate to and trust an executive.
Another benefit is that because executives are often held in high regard as the public face of their company, their words are amplified through the use of social media. Consider how Karunaratne has almost 5,000 followers yet his post received exponentially more engagements than this. Many social media platforms have options that allow users to reshare content, such as LinkedIn’s “share” or Twitter’s “retweet” features. Many users who engaged with his post might not have heard about him or his company before and may have come across his post after seeing a reshare. Whether an executive is sharing personal content or critical company news, going online and using a platform like LinkedIn can be a valuable way to spread their message to a wider audience.
Lastly, by showing his vulnerability, Karunaratne’s honesty in his social media post has become a source of inspiration for many others. Since his post, other individuals who have vitiligo have used their social media platforms to share their personal thoughts as well, as outlined in this Live Mint article.
Being an Inspirational Leader on Social Media
Being authentic and sharing personal content on social media can be a scary proposition for many executives — in Thushara Karunaratne’s case, he turned his vulnerability into a strength by going public with his skin condition. He has become an influential executive on social media by being candid and honest, both traits that help humanize C-suite leaders. While not every leader will want to use their social media platforms to share personal content, Karunaratne’s approach has not only served to inspire others but has garnered him (and his company) a lot of media attention as well.
Do you want to read about other influential executives who use social media strategically? Click below to read our Executive Spotlight blog series that features industry leaders in technology, healthcare, and more!
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