Having some of the top brass in your company on Twitter adds a whole different dimension to your brand. Tweets can show thought leadership, willingness to share knowledge but most of all, it adds a human element to your brand.
In a recent Mashable article Joe Chernov writes humanizing a brand is best done through using the humans who represent the business, however he also cautions not to let the “suits” take over. Chernov warns to keep executives off company social media accounts.
While I agree with keeping most executives off the corporate social media accounts that are often used for customer service replies, I think a charismatic CEO or CMO on her own Twitter account can be a great asset to any company.
eMarketer reports “77% of consumers are more likely or much more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media to clearly define company values and leadership principles. And 94% said C-suite social media participation enhances a brand image.”
Humanizing a brand, with the end result of increasing brand affinity and sales, is driving more CEOs to the social arena. IBM conducted a study in May of 2012 reporting only 16% of CEOs are communicating on social media but that is expected to grow to 57% in five years.
Five years? Seems like an awfully long growth curve considering the explosive pace of adoption of social media.
The question for marketers is, what do you do if:
- Your CEO doesn’t know the difference between a hashtag and the pound key on a phone
- She is “too busy” to consider “playing” in social media
- Your CEO has the personality of a customs agent
Marketers need to consider all this when deciding if they should ask their CEO to tweet. In an ideal world, he would be tweeting already and has a great filter for good content but most of the time, he may need a little help.
Is it cheating to “direct” your CEOs tweets?
Offering your CEO a little help is not a bad thing but crafting each message and posting it under cover is crossing the line. Any communication needs to be in the voice of your CEO. After all, your goal is to get people to relate and respond to your brand through the leader of your company, not through some over-reviewed content laden with marketing speak and risk mitigation.
Here are some ways you can help your CEO:
- You should show your CEO examples of who you think is doing it right and who isn’t. Let them know what you consider successful and why.
- Suggest articles they may want to read and comment on in a post
- Direct them to content on the corporate social media feeds that they can post or re-tweet to their followers
- Encourage your CEO to be forward thinking and generate her own thoughts on your industry. Obviously, you don’t want to offend anyone, but shared insight gives people confidence in the leadership
- Remind him about new product launches and when to post
- Teach the etiquette of social media and let her know when it is appropriate to thank someone for a re-tweet or when to quote or mention others in a message
Consumers can smell a fake a mile off. Consumers on social media will smell you and call you on it, openly and usually with great embarrassment. I mentioned voice before but it is important to ensure your leader is truly behind what they are saying and to reinforce they write their own messages as much as possible. This not only will keep the content authentic, but will also ensure your CEO is intimately aware of everything they are posting should they be asked to publicly comment on a post.
The power of a charismatic tweeting CEO
I love this example of the power of a great leader who has amassed a great number of followers and who is truly authentic and real. As humans, we make mistakes. Great leaders, own them.
Earlier this spring, LinkedIn’s CEO, Jeff Weiner, sent out a one word tweet to the world: “To”
This sparked a storm of responses wondering what Weiner was referring “to.” In the end, followers of all sorts added their take on the cryptic message, speculating everything from “To” meaning the city of Toronto, to “To” being a new acronym announcing a new product.
In the end, it was all a mistake and Weiner pocket-tweeted the two letters in error. Instead of deleting the post and ignoring the error, he let the dialogue continue, further cementing the brand’s integration into the Twittersphere. Finally, he tweeted this response:
That is humanizing a brand.
Are your company leaders on social media? How do you manage their image and your company image?