5 ways top execs can crush it on social media

Building trust is essential for CEOs and other upper-tier managers. Try these approaches to share your expertise, burnish your brand and help your organization’s standing in your industry.

Today’s executives face an array of challenges, including building trust within their own organizations and with an ever-expanding online audience.

With trust in CEOs now at a meager 43 percent according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, top bosses must use digital tools to build an authentic online presence and directly engage with fans and followers.

For CEOs who are less than comfortable communicating online, getting started comes with its own set of challenges. After all, not every executive is as savvy on social media as Richard Branson.

Here are five ways that executives new to social media can build a strategic online presence that elevates their personal brand and provides a reputational lift for their company:

1. Content curation

In crafting a digital narrative, executives can share the latest industry thinking. One standout example is Doug Conant, former chief executive of Campbell Soup, whose updates are richly seasoned with best practices from leaders such as Bill George. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner takes a similar approach, sharing the latest HR trends on Twitter, along with a thoughtful point of view.

2. Brand amplification

Equally important is the celebration of team successes on social media, a trend among digitally active executives.

Marissa Mayer, chief executive of Yahoo, regularly showcases the standout work of her team. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is another to emulate, as he mixes appearance updates with the latest corporate news from his company, such as a recent app release.

3. Insider access

Executives are ideally positioned to share the ins and outs of their organizations. One notable example is Apple’s Tim Cook, who regularly spotlights the experts behind the brand’s latest product rollouts.

Marissa Mayer’s behind-the-scenes posts follow a similar theme, highlighting Yahoo employees’ participation in pop culture moments and trends, such as last year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

4. Personal tone

Social media gives executives the opportunity to humanize otherwise stuffy corporate messaging. CEOs, in particular, are embracing a down-to-earth approach on social media.

Jeff Weiner shares a trove of resources, including online shopping tricks. Comparably, Mayer shares photos from various appearances, opting for unfiltered, Facebook-style images over pristine stock imagery.

5. Inspirational musings

Perhaps most important to executives is demonstrating expertise and business acumen. On social media, this often translates to sharing sage advice on climbing the corporate ladder, multitasking, work/life balance and taking the road less traveled.

Tangerine Bank CEO Peter Aceto uses inspirational content in the form of standalone tweets, many garnering retweets and favorites. Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes authors a steady stream of LinkedIn Influencer posts, each on the fundamentals of career success.

Today, executive and brand reputation are one and the same. The onus is on CEOs, new and established alike, to build a compelling digital narrative.

Among the many benefits of a solid social media presence include improved recruitment efforts, with 76 percent of employees reporting that they prefer to work for a CEO who is active on social media, according to a recent LinkedIn and Altimeter study.

Invariably, it’s the executives sharing industry insights, spotlighting team successes and inspiring the wider community who are reaping these benefits and serving as role models for CEO communications on social media.

A version of this article first appeared on Edelman Digital.

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