While the benefits of a company using social media are well established (see our social media report for more on this), there is a growing number of CEOs using social media. There’s a number of potential gains in doing so. Regular social media updating increases visibility of company leadership, giving stakeholders a better idea of company activity. Social media can also help promote a company; investors are known to review social media when making decisions about investment, and the presence of a strong management voice can be influential.
Twitter is a platform of choice because of its wide reach, short updates and ease of use. Based on FTSE 100 CEOs using Twitter (you can find a Twitter stream of them here) here is an overview of what leaders achieve through their posts:
CEOs are followed for their opinions and voice. Audiences look to glean insight from tweets into the machinations of business and the minds of leaders. The best proponents therefore share content that is relevant and useful to their community. Xavier R. Rolet, CEO of the London Stock Exchange Group, shares important updates that span the range from new listings to dark pool block trading, retweeting quite a great deal of the company account with added perspective.
A personal narrative
Curiosity surrounds the world of a CEO, both within and outside of their company. Social media can offer insight into personality, beliefs and values, humanising company leadership. More personal updates can also help build connections and increase reputation in public. The most engaging CEOs incorporate personal interests about sports, fine arts or books alongside a commentary of what is going on within a business. Martin Gilbert, co-founder CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, for example, shares personal glimpses when talking about sports, Olympics or his favourite painting.
Social media posting will have an element of brand reinforcement but generally the subtler this is, the better. Providing context and industry perspective while keeping the content fresh and creative can be challenging, but some achieve it well. John Fallon, CEO of education company Pearson, shares diverse perspectives, articles and innovation from the field of education and the science of learning.
News and trends
When it comes to market environment, politics and news, audiences are looking for both the latest stories and interpretation. As business leaders, the opinions of CEOs are valued: comments can provide assurance or security in times of uncertainty, a critique on political discourse, or simply interesting thought on the latest trends. Sebastian James, CEO of Dixons Carphone, weaves in trends and news in his comment, be it Pokémon Go or Brexit. He also shares pictures of various stores, sales teams and colleagues with appreciative feedback.
Wisdom from the boardroom
Followers may also expect insights and nuggets of information that CEOs deem relevant to their business. Twitter feed of Rakesh Kapoor, CEO of leading health goods company Reckitt Benckiser shares/retweets information on flu, Zika virus, antibiotics, diseases and wellness, but also interspersing it with leadership articles, WHO polls and company news or CSR.
CEOs considering using Twitter should consider the value of being present and being involved in the global conversation. If you require advice on your social media strategy, either for your leadership team or for your company overall, please get in touch.