86% of Americans believe transparency from businesses is more important than ever before. With an ongoing need for companies to cultivate trust with customers, building an executive’s social media presence is a critical way to communicate company values in a humanized and authentic way. Social media is a great tool for executives to advocate for big industry issues and communicate how they’re using their expertise for the greater social good.
After years of developing social media strategies for CEOs and C-suites, we at Stern can recommend a few key planning elements for building thought leadership on social media and setting you up for lasting success.
Step 1: Choose the right goals and define success
Before deep diving into content planning and creation, really understand what your goals are and how you’ll define success. Understand why creating a social media strategy is important for your brand and your executive. From big-picture to program-specific, walk through how you’d like to position your executive, what they’ll talk about and engage with, what you’re looking to accomplish and how frequently they’re able to post content. Well-defined goals will direct your measurement: are you looking for growth in visibility and awareness, lead generation, talent recruitment or engagement? Aligning your goal(s) with the right social media metric will allow you to accurately measure success over time and adjust your strategy as needed.
As more consumers expect CEOs to speak out on key issues, it’s important to craft a strategy that accomplishes this in an authentic way that’s true to the brand. Identifying your top goals will help guide your strategy, planning and measurement to not only elevate your executives’ online profiles but help ensure these platforms are an extension of your brand’s unique voice.
Step 2: Get out of your own way and put yourself in your customers’ shoes
After identifying top goals, define the audience your executive currently has in their network, along with the audiences they will want to target. While there are usually many groups to consider, clarifying who your executive should be addressing and how they’ll be positioned to that audience will allow them to create messages that are focused and that resonate.
Step 3: Build a community on the right platform with the right content
Based on the target audience demographics, select the right social media channel(s). Where will the executive’s audience be? Does the executive already use social media? What platforms are they most comfortable with? (Hint: not everyone needs to or should be on TikTok.) LinkedIn, for example, is a great place to share expertise, interact with industry peers and draw in potential new customers. Besides traditional feed posts, executives can write original articles, post timely Stories and host informative LinkedIn Live sessions.
Step 4: Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress
After building out your core strategy, it’s time to plan and post content. An online presence should have a unified approach, leveraging your executive’s expertise, company involvement and advocacy, media opportunities and speaking engagements. Post consistent content that intrigues and brings value to your audience. Whether posting daily or weekly, create a content calendar to plan posts, with the flexibility to include timely content.
And remember, social media is a social tool, so besides posting original content, it’s also important to engage with your audience by responding to comments and reshares as well as interacting with the posts of other people in your network, which helps build a strong community.
While this serves as a great guide to start your executive’s social media strategy, the most important, and sometimes overlooked, component is to involve your executive along the way. While executives often don’t have the time to put another project on their plate, having their buy-in and active involvement ensures authenticity and industry relevance.