A CEO who adopts using personal branding, supports our love of gathering bite-sized info, from people we connect with in the public eye. In return, the CEO builds a ‘celebrity like’ status within their industry (if done properly). Gathering ‘people news’ is why social networks are so popular.
The reason for exposing a leader’s life a little on social media can be many, but the marketing results in developing customer loyalty to the company brand can be great, if activated properly. If not, personal branding can become a major marketing fail for the company.
First of all though, decide if your CEO should be online sharing their thoughts and opinions, and if so, how on earth will it be managed. To help you answer these questions, here’s the most common do’s and dont’s I share with my clients:
Unless your CEO is comfortable with sharing their thoughts and opinions publicly then don’t create their profiles on social media. The company runs the risk of creating a marketing presence that will sit dormant and possibly deliver a negative message of ‘I’m too busy or unorganised to care’. Instead, consider sharing quotes, items of industry interest, and images of them via the company’s presence.
A leader needs an army – no greatness is ever achieved alone.
Just like any company marketing presence it will take a team of collective skills to support a CEO’s personal branding needs. This team may be your current marketing team working with his assistant, a copywriter and social media consultant who all communicate together to ensure:
- the marketing message is in line with the company’s
- authentic in the CEO’s voice and
- is monitored for feedback and reported for timely CEO responses
A CEO needs to find the balance between personal versus professional content in order to maintain a real identity as a person in order to emotionally connect with their audience and inform at the same time. Quite often the most engaging posts are the personal ones, so developing a social media strategy to tie these images to relevant professional messages is needed to assist in building company product and service awareness.
For example, the week Mark Zuckerberg announced his delight at the prospect of becoming a dad after dealing with miscarriages was the same week he announced building the first internet plane Aquila as part of his endeavours to provide internet to every country. Guess which post went viral that week. But the timing of these 2 pieces no doubt assisted him in exposing Internet.org and their projects to a wider public audience.
In building a personal brand it is not essential to be loved, or even liked as a CEO by the public. But it is essential to be relevant. Quite often the most memorable CEO’s are known for being intolerant or arrogant. Steve Jobs was removed initially from his own company for these traits. But his thoughts went on to disrupt the way we communicate. The public follow these people because they admire them for their visionary thinking, not necessarily because they like or love them. This value is why Apple had Steve come back and why his thoughts live on as visual quotes referenced all over social media.
Create content that connects with the public emotively. The more the public see the ‘human’ side of your CEO the more they connect with him and what is associated with his life – the company brand. Mark Zuckerberg is very comfortable with this as we all sympathise with the guy who struggles to become a dad. It reminds us that money can’t buy all happiness. And given he’s another visionary who is considered ‘arrogant’ we tend to excuse it as ‘determination’ when he reminds us of how he uses his influence and fortune to achieve supplying internet across the world.
It’s vital for your marketing team to have a crisis media plan in place if ever your CEO’s social media becomes a target of cyber bullying or negative media. As much as we acknowledge a CEO’s personal branding will add to the company, those very same valued thoughts and opinions are not always going to be shared by the public. Having a plan of action in place to promptly respond, or report and remove defaming information, and restricting public access to social media profiles is a necessity. And the timing of these actions for the company’s reputation and value is everything.
There are many reasons why a company would develop a CEO’s personal branding on social media. Most often it is to provide a more human side to the company, a personal way to inform and influence the public on social good projects, or survey reactions to new ideas. But whatever the purpose, the companies that are most successful at it are those that plan their marketing strategy like any other, then execute it and engage the public well to create industry influence.
The long term brand loyalty is always going to be strongest with the company the public feel most connected to. I mean who would’ve thought the UK larrikin could have Australians shift from being loyal to their home owned kangaroo airline – but it happened!