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Guiding Trend 7 September Sep 2017 1125 7 September 2017

When the CEO goes social

More and more CEOs are using social network platforms as digital reputation tools

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Say good-bye to the faceless head honcho. Now the boss is social media savvy From LinkedIn to Twitter, through the corporate website, the figure of the CEO (chief executive officer) has taken on the form of a social media account. Research into the online life of managers from the first 50 top companies, as designated by Fortune Magazine, conducted by the Weber Shandwick centre, proves it. Today’s bosses have lost that mysterious persona, expressed so eloquently in many movies. On the contrary, now the boss uses social media to become the company’s own first influencer.

The results of the study are crystal clear: From 2010 to 2014, the social media presence of CEOs doubled with 68% of them creating a space on their website, 54% appearing in a video on the company’s YouTube channel and 25% interacting directly with stakeholder and clients on social networks. “Their social media presences are necessary,” explained Leslie Gaine-Ross, Chief reputation strategist from Weber Shandwick. “Corporate leaders are using digital platforms more and more to share their professional stories, reach a broader network and interact with people who are already talking about the company,” said Gaine-Ross, “And people who do not embrace this trend risk being left behind.”

How does a CEO set up a platform? According to the Weber Shandwick study, there are four keys: having a verifiable public profile on any online platform, interacting on the company website with tailored content (messages, letters, video or photos), appearing in a YouTube video, and writing a blog that can be read by everyone and not just for employees. US managers are the most common online presences: 98% do all of these things. However, their European colleagues have registered more growth: +25% in four years.

The results of this study are crystal clear: from 2010 to 2014, the number of CEOs on social media has doubled.

And the trend has nothing to do with age. Instead, it indicates a change in perception of social media as a tool. “In this way, CEOs can strengthen their companies and present themselves as actual leaders inside their industrial sectors of reference,”, said Chris Perry, chairman of Weber Shandwick. The first step is the “bio” section of the corporate website. Instead of the usual dry resume content, now they offer stories of their professional path, with the reference company set up as the destination. They also do videos. As the use of mobile devices grows, they can offer content that is accessible at all times. On YouTube, clips featuring top managers include parts of meetings and quarterly reports. Clients are also featured: if Tesla 3 was presented by Elon Musk in person, it is much more likely that it will appeal to future buyers.

The last communication channel consists of the full range of social media networks. Here, the preferred networks are LinkedIn and Twitter. The first one is the most-known social media network among professionals, with the opportunity of a Publishing Platform in order to share opinions, thoughts, videos with one’s own network, which are shown on the newsfeed and on the author’s own profile page. The use of Twitter, instead, has increased by 10% in the past four years.The use of Twitter, instead, has increased 10% in the past four years. “Now managers feel safer and less afraid of damaging the company with only 140 characters,” the study said. What do your bosses tweet? Mainly links to articles, blogs and websites. Sometimes pictures and videos. In any case, the purpose never changes: they want to create a professional but user-friendly conversation.

If you, as a leader, are reluctant and still feel unsure of jumping into social media, the Weber Shandwick study offers a list of 9 points. First, open (or update) your social media account on the first day of your new job. Second: if you want a promotion, it’s better to start right away interacting with your followers to create a network to use in the future. Third: choose the right platform. It’s no good working to become a great photographer if your contacts don’t use Instagram. Fourth: listen carefully. And if necessary, copy the best practices that your competitors use. Keeping the discussion under control can be an extra weapon to intervene at the right time and have the greatest impact in terms of visibility. Fifth: think corporate. In other words, everything that concerns the company that you manage is good material for building your credibility. Sixth: make your CV “social” (a list of jobs, masters and titles makes you sound like a “know-it-all”). Seventh: use content produced by third parties when it concerns your role o your company. Like in this example: an interview with a journalist can become your most effective calling card. Eighth: interact with employees. Ninth, and last tip: always consult the legal office. Remember that everything can be edited online, and nothing is ever deleted.