Five benefits of being a ‘social’ CEO

  We’re living in a time where technology is changing at a blistering rate. Keeping on top of it all can become overwhelming and many reports identify that leadership teams struggle to adapt quickly.

At the same time, trust in CEOs is at an all-time low according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer report.

The challenge around keeping pace with digital technology is unlikely to reduce. For leaders, the solution will through getting to grips with social technologies and becoming more digitally literate.

With regards to trust, there are whole bodies of research from organisations such as public relations firm, Weber Shadwick and consulting firm, Brandfog that have looked at the impact socially-savvy leaders have on consumers and employees. This approach also nurtures a sense of transparency and trust.

Let’s take a look at five benefits of being a social CEO:

  • Engenders trust
    What better way of staying in tune with what is going on within an organisation than hearing it directly from the CEO? The voice of the leader is to empower, support, educate, inspire, update, defend and be accountable. Brandfog’s study identified that 82% of consumers are more likely to trust an organisation where the leaders are vocal and accessible via social channels.

My question to you is: What are you actively doing as a leader to engender trust?

  • Builds brand engagement
    As the leader of an organisation, you’re part of the story. As Caron Bradshaw, CEO of Charity Finance Group, told me: ‘Progressive leadership requires you to be present, available, connected, visible and authentic.’

Take a look at the leaders who front compelling brand engagement such as Elon Musk at Tesla. These leaders are on social platforms sharing brand values and building engagement for the brand.

As a leader, I ask you: What are you actively doing to build brand engagement?

  • Builds employee engagement
    You can see the value of engaging directly with employees by simply tuning in to genuinely social CEOs on social media.

Brian J Dunn, former CEO of Best Buy and John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, use social media to shout out to employees. They congratulate them, welcome them, respond to them, encourage them and generally build employee engagement.

As Legere told me: ‘Any CEO who is not actively engaging with customers and employees on social media is missing the boat. It’s a disservice to your people if you’re not willing to talk with them directly.’

As well as external social media channels, think about your internal social channels such as intranets.

My question to you is: As a leader, what are you doing to actively build employee engagement?

  • Enables you to tune in
    Too many people and organisations approach social channels purely with the intent of broadcasting. While they are indeed highly-effective communication channels, effective communication is two-way. Two eyes; two ears – just the one mouth. On social media use them accordingly.

Real value can be found in simply ‘tuning in’ and listening to what is happening in your landscape. Without exception, every CEO I interviewed cited the ‘ability to listen in’ to your customers, competitors and employees as key benefits of being on social media.

Dunn explained: ‘Social media acted as a barometer giving real-time feedback on public opinion… not statistically accurate but typically, directionally accurate. [Social Media is] a great way to take the consumers’ temperature on any given topic relating to your business and an interesting data point on your competitors.’

My question therefore is: What are you currently doing to tune in, in real-time, to your customers, competitors and landscape?

  • Reputation management
    As CEO, you’re the main brand ambassador. You not only share the values and positive sentiments of the brand and organisation but also mitigate any potentially damaging rumours.

In the days before social media, this would be done via press releases, which often took days or weeks to execute. By which in some cases, with no response from the brand or organisation, damages escalated. Now the CEO can take to Twitter or other social media channels, pretty much immediately, to set the record straight and stamp out any ambiguity.

What platform are you using to speedily manage reputation?


 Michelle Carvill is the author of Get Social: Social Media Strategy & Tactics for Leaders which can be seen on the AMBA Book Club