If you're a business executive, chances are you're publicly listed somewhere as a leader of your company. Your customers and business partners want to know that there's a real human being at the helm, so you put up a professional headshot and a short bio on your website, list yourself as a company executive on LinkedIn, and sign your name to the occasional corporate blog post or newsletter. You're all set, right?
Maybe not. If you don't build up a personal brand and maintain a strong social media presence where your company's audience is, you might be missing out on a valuable opportunity to connect with your constituents.
Igor Gonta, CEO of big data stock analytics company Market Prophit, said there are two critical reasons for executives to expand their social media strategy beyond LinkedIn: community and conversation. [Tweet It Out: Developing Your Personal Brand on Twitter]
"CEOs need to go where their stakeholders are, whether they're [consumers in] the marketplace, investors, partners or the internal team," Gonta told Business News Daily. "Today's CEO can choose the platform most popular with their key community. Social media [also] gives CEOs the opportunity to reach out in a way that is immediate, informal and direct — a huge shift from the old 'top-down' approach to dialogue."
Developing an effective social media strategy as an executive means that you'll have to learn to balance work and play in your social posts. Gonta advised sharing insights that reflect both your personal life and the company brand, and any personal comments should be kept positive, brief and broad.
"No one really wants to hear about your cold, your religious beliefs or how late you are on your taxes," he said.
Gonta offered a few more do's and don'ts for today's "social CEO":
Think twice, post once. Social media's lack of barriers in communications means it's very easy to post a comment that has not been thought through. Consider your conversations carefully.
Have different messages for different mediums. A post on LinkedIn is targeted to professionals, and often to peers. Facebook and Twitter posts should have different messaging: More informal and conversational, and where possible, tying into the product or solution.
Forget that you have a broad audience. Unless you're sending a private message, you aren't just speaking to one individual when you post on social media. Craft a social dialogue that sends a larger message to your broad audience, even as you reply to an individual.
Be sarcastic. For a CEO who is the face of his or her brand and company, it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pull off sarcasm and still be appealing to an audience.
Above all, Gonta reminded executives to keep their overall message top of mind, rather than worrying about the mechanics of social media or being on every network.
"The most important thing you can do is focus on ... what you want to communicate, and who you want to share it with," Gonta said. "Keep the messaging strategy as your top priority, and the other elements will fall into place."