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C-Suite, It’s Time to Get Social!

I recently had the pleasure of attending an executive communications conference in Washington, D.C. My biggest takeaway? Company executives’ social media presence is no longer optional – it’s critical to success from a business practices perspective, as well as employee engagement.

CEOs have a measurable impact on society’s trust in their company. If you haven’t reviewed the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer global report, I highly recommend giving it a read. Results revealed a whopping 79% of participants believe a CEO should be personally visible in business situations such as ensuring the company is trusted, speaking out on government decisions and social issues and communicating regularly with the public.

The most visible outlet nowadays? Social media platforms. Social media allows an executive to translate their in-person personality online, thereby humanizing their role and company. In opposition to fallacies such as, “Our executives don’t have time for this” or “CEOs engaging on social channels is too risky,” survey results from BRANDFog’s CEO Social Media Survey indicate a high level of interest from the public for hearing directly from business leaders.

However, as speaker Stacy Elliott, director of executive communications at Microsoft pointed out at the conference, a great communications person needs to be behind every great executive brand. It is important to view your social media presence as part of your company’s marketing strategy…and to do so with authenticity. As Stacy explained, you have to “crawl before you walk before you run.” Establishing a social executive voice TAKES TIME! But the juice is worth the squeeze – 73% of consumers agree that social media engagement makes CEOs more e­ffective leaders. And research by Hootsuite and LinkedIn found a 40% increase in employee engagement as a direct correlation to C-Suite social involvement.

I saw firsthand the success an authentic executive voice can bring – we heard from Steve Handmaker, CMO for Assurance, whose company currently rates as having 98% employee engagement versus the national average of 34%. His top tips? Set clearly defined goals and be transparent. I loved his advice to avoid perfection…for example, using contractions and distributing cell phone videos translate as more genuine than a produced and polished product, and their company has also seen tremendous success through referencing pop culture and using real-life personal stories. My favorite words of wisdom were his pointing out that fun and humor doesn’t make you “less smart.” I completely agree!

If your CEO isn’t comfortable personally posting on social media, that’s okay. Use your company accounts to post ABOUT them and share their story and views – and be certain to empower other members of your executive team to be brand ambassadors and represent your C-Suite on social.

If you’re interested in learning more about building, strengthening and defending your reputation, please feel free to give me a call at 410.420.2001 or contact me.

In all fairness, I can’t end my thoughts without taking my own advice, so here’s a fun fact you may not know about me, personally: one of my biggest passions outside of the office is music. I began performing publicly in the fourth grade, and grew up singing in musicals, as the lead in my church’s band in high school and as a member of multiple choirs. I also played classical piano for more than a decade. Ultimately, while performing in college both in choir and independently, I was faced with the decision to pursue a career in music or major in something with a bit more job assurance…which, of course, eventually led me to my role at Fallston Group today! However, I still sing for fun (while admittedly a bit rusty!), including on an online karaoke app connecting millions of users around the globe – I hope you enjoy a silly video of me singing one of my favorite Disney songs with a fellow app user who joined me.