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Social Media is No Longer Optional for the C-Suite

Social Media is No Longer Optional for the C-Suite

It's our first stop in the vetting process – whether we are looking up a potential hire, researching a purchase, or getting up to speed on a new brand, we all start with social media. But what happens when you’re on the other end of that vetting? How does the online footprint appear of you, your company, your brand?

I’m always disappointed when I hear senior executives say that social media doesn’t really matter. This demonstrates a lack of leadership, as well as a lack of cultural awareness. Just look at the data: 60% of employees say they would check an executive's social media before joining a company. Are you looking to pitch for funding? 28% of investors said they would see a financial company as “innovative” or a “leader in the industry” for offering social options.

At Emerald Digital Solutions, we are often retained by an executive who knows that social media is important, but doesn’t exactly know how to create and execute a strategy that’s on brand. They usually need assurances that they won’t be made to learn the latest TikTok dance or make videos of their morning routine. In many cases, today's C-suite members started (and succeeded in) their careers before social media was ubiquitous. As a result, many are either intimidated by social media, or don't think of it as something that is important.

But social media is crucial to effective leadership in the 21st century. If you, or your executives, are still on the fence, here are just a few reasons why you should embrace social media.

[Related: Marketing in the Next Normal: Four Marketing Strategies for a Post-Pandemic World]

Build credibility.

Approximately 40% of people surveyed in Edelman's Trust Barometer said that they are unlikely to develop a close emotional connection to a brand unless they interact or communicate with them through social media platforms. Transparency is essential for establishing trust. If you want to build credibility in the market through social media, simply posting promotional texts and images will not suffice.

In order to better interact with your audience, you should utilize the different features available to you and be genuine and authentic in what you do. Social media is a great way to not only show off your expertise, but show you’re a real person! You can share personal milestones and major life moments in addition to insight into your career journey.

Social media also allows you to provide robust, high-level customer service. As a result, interacting with your audience through social media is an easy way to build a loyal customer base. You should respond promptly to customer queries and concerns to create a positive customer experience.

Influence investors.

Social media is having a significant impact on institutional and high net worth investors. According to surveys by Greenwich Associates and Cogent Research, almost 80% of institutional investors and 90% of high net worth investor groups use social media. About 30% of investors say information obtained through social media directly influenced an investment recommendation or decision. And as many as 70% changed relationships or reallocated investments as a result of content they’d found in the networks.

If you’re not using the same social media channels as future investors, you’re missing the chance to connect with a new audience. Use social media to tell your brand’s story, listen to the conversations your future investors may be having, understand what motivates them, and to see what content resonates with them.

As I constantly tell my clients:

If you don’t tell your story, someone will tell it for you.

If your brand has never articulated what it stands for, you leave it up to others to come up with their own ideas of what your brand means. And you absolutely need to know what impression your brand is leaving. Use social listening to empower yourself here. This levels the playing field, expands your knowledge base, and gives you access to the same information investors see.

[Related: What 80 Innovation Leaders Say About the Power of Storytelling]

Recruit top talent.

Attracting the best employees – and keeping them – continues to be a challenge for all organizations. As a powerful medium for showcasing company culture, social media has changed the talent acquisition process. Social media is watched by potential team members; 79% of job candidates make use of social media in their job search.

CEOs who adapt to social media as a major form of communication can help an organization attract and keep better talent. Modern recruitment is less about the positions you are trying to fill and more about developing a brand that attracts talented people who want to work with you. CEOs who are active on social media help ensure the visibility of the brand and the culture of the organization while signaling that the organization is tech-savvy and engaging.

Engage with other leaders.

Social media is a powerful way for CEOs to connect with other business leaders and establish complementary alliances. In addition to elevating the conversation beyond the brand, they are able to touch on social, economic, political, and personal interests. Through social media, leaders can better connect with local and national policymakers who affect their industries and shape the future.

Having a high level of social media visibility may lead to new opportunities. This could include the opportunity to speak at keynote events or participate on panels, and the chance to show thought leadership and grow your credibility in a variety of areas.

[Related: Why Sharing Your Story is Your Most Powerful PR Strategy]

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Rasheedah Thomas is a communications strategist based in the Washington, DC area and South Carolina. She is an advocate for women in positions of power, and loves helping woman business and political leaders raise their profile and brand themselves as an expert in their field. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or at @rasheedah_t on Twitter and Instagram.


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