article banner featuring group of executives and the article banner What Executive Persona Are You? (Part 3)

What Executive Persona Are You? (Part 3)

For those who have been following along, congratulations — we’ve reached the final part of our series! If you’re catching up, check out part 1 where we cover the passionate/enthusiastic, authoritative/informative, and edgy/provocative executive personas, and part 2 where we discuss executives with the curious/inspiring, friendly/casual, and serious/trustworthy personas.

Below, learn about the conservative/formal, humorous/cheerful, approachable/caring, and daring/grandiose executive personas you’ll come across on social media. Keep reading to the end where we share our expert tips on how to establish your executive social media presence.


Conservative and Formal

This tone is often used by executives who want to use their social media presence primarily to support business objectives—and have absolutely no interest in sharing anything personal online. This persona often overlaps with the serious/trustworthy and authoritative/informative personas. These executives rarely (if ever) share content that may be considered controversial, preferring to share strategic business-related content. However, if they’re not careful, they could come across as bland and uninspiring. After all, if all they talk about is business, what makes the executive’s content different from their company’s social media content?

The conservative and formal executive is someone who…

  • Wants to focus more on reaching business objectives versus using social media for any personal gain
  • Often shares content related to their company
  • Doesn’t want to share too much of their personal lives on social media, as they see this channel as more of a strategic tool rather than a relationship builder

An example of an executive with a conservative and formal persona is…

Mary Barra, the CEO of GM Motors and a Top Voice on LinkedIn. The majority of the content she shares is focused on GM, whether it’s spotlighting employees or the technology and innovation behind the scenes. Even for posts that are more personal, there’s usually a tie back to the company brand.

screenshot of GM CEO Mary Barra's linkedin post

What makes her branded content strategic while still engaging is that she tells interesting stories. In this post, for example, she mentions the benefits of driving an electric vehicle (EV). To make it more engaging and personal, she also includes a video. It comes across as less “salesy” while still maintaining an effective promotional angle.


Humorous and Cheerful

Besides the edgy/provocative executive, the humorous/cheerful executive is another example of a persona that typically garners a lot of attention and engagement on social media. Whereas the edgy/provocative executive might often toe the line between what’s acceptable to say online and what’s not, the humorous/cheerful executive simply wants to spread positivity. They’re not afraid to show their personality through their social media content. Oftentimes, they’re more than happy to step in front of the camera themselves. This persona often overlaps with the passionate/enthusiastic and friendly/casual personas.

The humorous and cheerful executive is someone who…

  • Enjoys making people laugh while always steering clear of controversy
  • Finds talking about their company fun and wants to get readers emotionally invested in the brand
  • Isn’t afraid to share content that might be seen as “fluffy,” whether it’s a funny meme or a photo of themselves during their company’s Halloween party

An example of an executive with a humorous and cheerful persona is…

John Legere, the former CEO of T-Mobile. When it comes to an example of an executive who oozes personality, charm, and humor, he’s the first that comes to mind. We profiled him in our Executive Spotlight, which you can read here.

screenshot of former T-Mobile CEO John Legere's Instagram post

On his social media properties, most of the focus is on him: his activities, social causes he’s passionate about, and his hobbies. During his T-Mobile days, he participated in initiatives like Slow Cooker Sunday, a show where he shared slow cooker meal recipes. You may be thinking, “What does cooking have to do with a mobile company?” The reality is that the strategy was all about positioning John Legere. Because T-Mobile had such an outgoing leader, their strategy was to leverage his personality, turning him into a “rock star CEO” and the recognizable face of the company. Taking this approach humanized the company and positioned T-Mobile as a fun, energetic brand — which can be important when targeting a younger audience.


Approachable and Caring

Executives with an approachable/caring persona enjoy sharing topics they feel passionate about, whether it’s a personal passion or a topic related to their business. This is a tone often used by those in the healthcare industry or executives who want to establish a more humanized brand. This tone is particularly useful for service-based industries where the “output” of a business-client relationship may be more abstract or intangible. These executives may prefer to shine the spotlight on other people rather than themselves, understanding that at the end of the day, the CEO is just one part of the bigger picture. This persona can overlap with the friendly/casual and humorous/cheerful personas.

The approachable and caring executive is someone who…

  • Doesn’t see leadership as a ladder and instead prefers servant leadership where they can uplift others
  • Creates engaging social media posts thanks to the way they humanize the content they’re sharing
  • Puts people first, wanting to showcase the innovation and hardworking employees before themselves

An example of an executive with an approachable and caring persona is…

Chris Kempczinski, the CEO of McDonald’s. Throughout his social media, he always makes sure to link the content he’s sharing back to someone, whether it’s him or an employee. This adds a strong human element to everything he’s sharing, ensuring that his social media presence feels authentic.

screenshot of McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski's Instagram post

In his video series, he answers questions left by social media users, which adds to his persona of being an approachable leader. Chris often leverages video, a format that we believe results in more dynamic, engaging content. While creating video content may seem daunting, the process can be more straightforward than you think! We wrote a few guides below:


Daring and Grandiose

Last but certainly not least, we arrive at the daring/grandiose executive persona. Often used by those in industries featuring a lot of big-picture thinking and innovation, executives here are often less interested in the present than they are in the far-flung future. What new technologies will power our society? Where will sustainability initiatives be 10 years from now? In many cases, these executives are envisioning a new future where their products or services play a significant role in innovating the industry. This tone tends to overlap with the curious/inspiring persona and sometimes the edge/provocative persona.

The daring and grandiose executive is someone who…

  • Likes thinking big and encourages their followers to do the same
  • Wants to be seen as someone operating outside of the box; a leader, not a follower
  • Isn’t afraid of trying new things and considers themselves innovators/early adopters, even when it comes to social media

An example of an executive with a daring and grandiose persona is…

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. From sharing posts about spaceflight to his experience jumping off the tallest building in Las Vegas and how that led to the realization that saying “no” can be a good thing, his posts focus on big-picture topics.

screenshot of Virgin Group founder Richard Branson's linkedin post

As he mentions in one of his posts, “When I started out in my career, I quickly realised that community means everything.” This sentiment can be found across his posts where he ties these broader ideas back to local communities, whether it’s brand-related or a local nonprofit organization. He has a keen interest in making society a better place, which is a trait often found among executives with daring/grandiose personas.


Which Executive Persona Sounds The Most Appealing To You?

And there you have it! 10 of the top executive personas that we see on social media!

Now, to round out the series, here are a few tips for executives looking to establish themselves on social media.

Tip #1: As cliche as it may sound, don’t try to “force” yourself to be someone you’re not. While we mentioned that edgy/provocative and humorous/funny personas tend to get more engagement with their posts, the number of “likes” shouldn’t be your only goal. Many of the benefits of an executive social media program are intangible and hard to measure, such as improving credibility, company sentiment, and brand awareness.

Tip #2: While many executives you see on social media will fit into one or a few of these personas, you don’t need to emulate them exactly. Instead, find your niche (what you want to talk about), and share content that you feel passionate about and that you think will resonate with your audience.

Tip #3: If you don’t know where to start, get professional advice from your in-house marketing or PR team or a specialized executive social media marketing agency. Building a strong foundation for executive social media presence can help you drive towards your objectives faster and more efficiently. Also, be sure to check out our free downloadable guides below that will help you get started.