For the social CEO, engagement comes from being engaged

For the social CEO, engagement comes from being engaged

By Wonna Wen, Telum Media

It’s a love-hate relationship with Twitter’s algorithm. Thanks to it, I’m shown more tweets than I signed up for, but also thanks to it, I now know Elon Musk’s PO box number. He and other CEOs aren't just active on Twitter either. LinkedIn needs no mention and if @zuck’s 10.1 million Instagram followers and John Legere’s 81.7k are anything to go by, business leaders on social media are no longer the odd fish out.

Telum recently summed up FTI Consulting's report on “the social CEO”. It wasn’t just that a whopping 96 percent of CEOs were active on LinkedIn alone, but across all channels, they averaged over six posts per month in 2021. FGS Global echoed these findings with its study on “the social board”, where 35 of the DAX 40 boards counted at least two-thirds of members with digital presence.

Global business leaders are quickly and surely responding to stakeholder expectations. Brunswick’s 2022 Connected Leadership report found that in Hong Kong, 89 percent of employees and 90 percent of financial readers expect leaders to use social media to connect with the public. In times of crisis, the percentages rose well into the 90s.

And these numbers aren’t surprising. 88 percent of employees and financial readers access social media monthly compared to the 70 percent that consume traditional media. As digital natives enter the workforce, a social media presence is almost necessary for the modern-day CEO.

But being a social CEO is far from reposting press releases or parroting corporate posts. CEOs that post frequently and broadly tend to amass greater followings and more engagement. Beyond brand related content, corporate leaders are also expected to take stances on issues outside the business.

Yet, to borrow a line from Finn Agency’s post on CEO comms, “it’s not a good idea if the CEO tries to become a media darling for reasons that have little to do with the strategic goals of the company”. After all, not every leader can reveal their PO box in the form of a Stanford letter.

Not too little, not too much, the key is in authenticity and strategy, for both the leader and the company. CEOs are often seen as corporate figureheads, brands in and of themselves. To maximise the impact social CEOs can make, the executive comms professionals have a part to play.

An expert communicator can build a support network and design approaches to governance. They can help track metrics, define target audiences and advise on crisis comms. In the mercurial world of platforms, public sentiments and information at your fingertips, the executive comms professional can help the social CEO fit into the company’s reputation puzzle to tell that personal, corporate story and even expand the comms agenda to a social board.

Because globally, the conversation around socially engaged leadership has moved far beyond a yes-no question to a matter of “how”. With the popularity of video content and even the rise of the “meta” @zuck, there is much to look forward to for the social CEO, beyond the Twitter algorithms, beyond the PO boxes.

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