8 Ways To Elevate Executive Presence on Social Media

Thanks to social media, stakeholders now expect CEOs to have a public-facing presence more than ever.

A 2023 report by corporate advisory firm Brunswick revealed that financial readers trust a CEO who uses social media up to nine times more than one who does not. The same report shows that 80% of employees prefer working for a CEO who uses social media, and 82% research the boss before joining a company. Brunswick also found that people trust leaders who use social media more than those who don’t by a ratio of 6 to 1.

Establishing a presence on social media is not only expected but smart. By doing so, leaders gain a better understanding of their audience and are able to share key messages about their company. They can attract and retain top talent, keep a finger on the pulse of the brand, and position themselves as industry thought leaders. In challenging situations, they can de-escalate a crisis, control the narrative with positive stories, and humanize their company.

Of course, this will take some work and TLC. Here are eight ways to elevate your executive social media presence.

1. Optimize your profile

Whether it’s LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter/X or Friendster (it’s coming back!?), every social media platform offers users tools to create a profile.

The keys to a well-made profile are clarity, brevity, functionality—and a professional photo.

Profiles differ in format from platform to platform, but all ask for a photo. Therefore, it behooves users to post a pic that shows that them, and their mission, seriously.

If it’s a LinkedIn profile, you can add a banner, possibly your company logo and mission statement. A compelling headline, a (brief) bio that reflects who you are and what you do in the About section, and testimonials from customers allow you to further bolster your bona fides.

Kyle Lacy‘s LinkedIn profile, for example, shows the Jellyfish CMO smiling against a banner image displaying the engineering software company’s G2 Grid leader awards. His bona fides—”CMO at Jellyfish | Board Member | Advisor | Dadx2 | Author x3″ is a mix of the professional and personal.

2. Develop a strategy

Developing a social media strategy with your team or with a social media management agency can help make it easier to post consistently by planning ahead of time.

A posting schedule can be as simple as taking 5-10 minutes every morning, or every other morning, to share an article, respond to a few tweets or give a quick company update.

An effective social media strategy will also include target audiences. You’ll need to know who your audience is and where they can be found to ensure your posts are reaching the right people.

An example of an executive who deploys a clear and effective social media strategy is Brian Scudamore, the founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? He posts regularly on LinkedIn, as well as Instagram and Facebook. His content clearly demonstrates his philosophy of O2E (Ordinary to Exceptional) and helps other serial entrepreneurs with professional development. (In fact, Brian’s strategy is so effective that he’s the latest business leader to join the cast of the Canadian version of the business/entertainment series Dragons’ Den.)

3. Post consistently

Advice varies on how often business leaders should post on social media, or how much time they should spend there. But most experts agree that to gain relevance as a thought leader, it’s important to post consistently.

This doesn’t necessarily mean creating a new post every time. Depending on your strategy, if you decide to post three times a week, then two posts might be original content while another could be a reshare. Interacting with posts through likes and comments can also help you be more consistent without constantly posting.

Thasunda Brown Duckett, President & CEO at financial services firm TIAA, is very consistent on LinkedIn. She balances posts she creates with reshares and comments to achieve that consistency.

4. Post timely content

Posting content that responds to news and trends is a sure way to elevate your presence and bolster your thought leadership. For example, Nasdaq chair and CEO Adena Friedman has used the platform to establish herself as a thought leader by posting about market trends and economic forecasts.

She has half a million followers on the platform and is a LinkedIn Top Voice, an invitation-only program featuring a global group of experts covering a range of topics across the professional world.

Ideally, timely content on breaking news and real-time events can be complemented by more “evergreen” posts. These highlight themes and perspectives that are, in some respects, timeless. Examples include general leadership or business advice — the kind of insights that will be relevant to readers now or a year from now.

5. Create engaging posts

Easier said than done, right? Well, follow a few tips and you’re halfway there.

Begin with a bold, provocative statement, then follow through with context. Use visuals—posts with a compelling graphic do 28% better than those without one. An original photo or design that is relevant to your post works best. Native video—video that’s uploaded directly rather than through a link—has also been associated with better-performing posts.

As well, differentiate CEO posts from company posts. Users expect to see posts from leaders that tell personal stories and offer bold perspectives on their industry news and trends. Say something original and think about what you can speak on with some authority. Avoid a hard pitch for your company.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder and Executive Chair of Bumble, posts a mix of personal and professional content to her 238k Instagram followers.

6. Be transparent and personal

According to a report on transparency on social media, 63% of responders say that CEOs who have social profiles are better representatives for their companies than those who do not. CEOs with personal profiles appear more approachable, accessible, human, honest and trustworthy. Just as many of those surveyed said that posts about a CEO’s family and friends would have a positive impact on their perception of the company, as well as posts about the CEO’s personal interests.

An example of authenticity on social media is Matt Stephenson. The Code2College CEO’s LinkedIn page puts a personal touch on company news, including using short-form selfie videos to pitch open roles, posting photos with employees, and actively posting while attending events.

7. Post about employees

76% of engaged social users say it’s important for companies to post about employees. This might mean congratulating them on a work milestone, a professional win, or a personal matter.

An example is Doug McMillon. The Walmart CEO often posts about his visits to various company-owned stores around the country, giving shoutouts to employees and posting photos meeting the staff. This humanizes the executive by showing his empathy toward employees.

8. Engage with community

Social media is a two-way street. Listening to and engaging with the audience will give CEOs insights into what consumers want and what people are talking about in their industry. By commenting on discussions or contributing to collaborative articles with other thought leaders, CEOs show openness. Interacting with posts through likes and comments can also help CEOs be more consistent.

LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslanksy supplements his original content with reposts, likes and comments, including the following, where he adds his two cents to a colleague’s work milestone.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? That’s why many CEOs and businesses are turning to full-service social media agencies like CSuite Content. Agencies are populated by experts who know the ins and outs of social media and the how-tos of building thought leadership brands.

If you haven’t thought about approaching an agency before, now is the time. As social media becomes more fundamental to our lives, brands and leaders with engaged social communities will win out over those without. The future is social.

Sign up for The Helm Newsletter!

Latest Posts