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CEO and sole owner of Next PR, an award-winning, full-service public relations firm with offices across the U.S.
As a CEO, establishing yourself as an industry thought leader is essential for building brand awareness and credibility, as well as recognition for your organization. An executive social media strategy is one of the best ways to gain industry exposure, build engagement and establish trust with your target audience.
Your social presence has a direct impact on your company’s bottom line. According to LinkedIn, over half of professionals say that a business executive’s presence on social media influences their purchase decision. Even more importantly, two-thirds say they’d be more likely to recommend a company or brand whose executive(s) they follow on social media.
Becoming active on social media — whether it’s posting original material or sharing someone else’s — is a great way to engage your target audience, position yourself as an expert and drive business value. That is, if your content is relevant and useful. If your social presence is full of cat memes and self-serving quips, it may be time for an intervention.
Here are five tips for developing and executing a strong, effective social media strategy.
1. Find the right platform.
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Not all social platforms are appropriate for your business or your content — and frankly, there are too many to tackle them all. Instead, choose the one or two that are right for reaching your target audience, the type of content you’ll want to share and your strategy. For B2B executives, LinkedIn is an excellent place to share long-form content and connect with potential partners and customers. B2C executives can take to Facebook for direct consumer outreach regarding new products or store openings, while Instagram can be beneficial for executives who are comfortable with visual content and a more personal approach.
2. Establish your niche as a thought leader.
While certain social issues and global events might warrant a one-off thoughtful post, in general, it’s best to narrow down the subjects you’ll cover to your top three areas of expertise. This will keep you focused and help elevate your profile in the right areas. Incorporate these topics in your profile bios so followers know what to expect. Follow relevant hashtags for these topic areas to get involved in trending conversations around them. Share useful content and comment with your own expertise or experience.
3. Establish a human connection.
Even for B2B brands, your followers crave connection and authenticity. To establish that connection, you’ll want to drop the cringy sales jargon. While social media can drive sales, it won’t be effective if it feels overt and forced. Instead, use language that shows you know your target audience — and that you’re one of them — including the right acronyms, shorthand and emojis. Don’t be afraid to share your own stories and experiences. Be honest about your challenges, both business-related and personal, and generous with the solutions that work for you.
4. Monitor and measure impact.
Metrics such as followers, engagement and website traffic are particularly important for brand awareness. Measure your social media impact based on actions that demonstrate audience interest and investment.
• Followers: Don’t look at follower count as just a number; pay attention to how your network is growing and which thought leaders, potential clients and other industry executives want to engage with you.
• Engagement: How many people commented, shared or saved the post, showing they were invested in the content?
• Website traffic: How many people clicked through to your website? Did they stick around and click on other pages?
5. Consider handing it off to an expert.
Trust me, I get it: Managing all these expectations while also running a company is a time commitment. If you’re not confident in your social media skills or your ability to devote the time required to do it right, consider enlisting some help. Assigning an executive social media strategy to a trusted expert on your marketing or PR team can help alleviate your workload, give you a consistent tone and brand voice, ensure the right cadence and responsiveness and, ultimately, drive desired business impact.
Executive social media is a powerful brand-building tool for both your company and your own professional standing. But without the right strategy, it’s easy to mess it up, or at the very least, devote a lot of time with very little return. To get it right, CEOs must prioritize authenticity, consistency and candidness to build trust with their audiences.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
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Author: Heather Kelly, Forbes Councils Member