Leadership and Social Media: 5 Effective Strategies

It might be possible to become a business thought leader today without social media, but it’s unlikely. Platforms like Twitter/X and LinkedIn have opened up paths for executives to position themselves as leaders in ways that weren’t available in the pre-digital age.

From going behind-the-scenes of a workplace to showcasing employees to weighing in on industry developments in real-time, a social-savvy CEO has more opportunities than ever to demonstrate their leadership skills.

Not that social media doesn’t have its drawbacks. For one, doing it properly requires time, skill, knowledge and expertise. Social media users have endless content at their fingertips and cutting through the noise is difficult. And even the most careful of executives can sometimes miss the mark by posting something inappropriate or not suited to the moment.

Still, to project an image of leadership, a social media presence is one of the most valuable tools in your kit. Here are some effective strategies for demonstrating leadership principles on social media.

1. Be consistent

Reliability and the image of being in control are hallmarks of leadership, and it’s no different on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, et al. People view leaders who post consistently—not necessarily daily, but at least one-to-two times a week—as more on their game than those who post and then disappear for days or even weeks at a time.

In addition, social media users are more apt to follow and engage with someone whom they feel that they can depend on for information, opinions, and/or creative content. Brand recognition, trust and credibility, engagement and relationship building, visibility and reach, positioning and differentiation  are all benefits of a consistent social media presence for leaders and brands.

Thasunda Brown Duckett, former CEO of Chase and president and CEO at TIAA, exercises great consistent on social media. She balances posts that she creates with content that she reshares or comments on.

2. Post content that demonstrates authenticity

It’s easy to share generic, characterless content or posts that stick to the company line. But sharing personal anecdotes and experiences can go a long way to reflecting your leadership style and humanity.

Active on LinkedIn and Twitter, former Unilever CEO Alan Jope is known for engaging with his audience and sharing company news and highlighting wins. He’s also been known to get personal from time to time.

Note: Although LinkedIn is the preferred platform for executives, with a whopping 97% of Fortune 500 CEOs on the site, photo-centric Instagram has gained more C-suite users over the past few years and is well suited for showing the human side of things.

Take full advantage of Instagram by utilizing all the features on offer – not just photo posts but also Reels, Stories, and Story Highlights. Content might range from pics of your cats to motivational graphics to Reels about business initiatives. Other valuable sources of photo content are conferences and other media events.

3. Empower others

Simply put, don’t make it all about you. Showcasing and celebrating wins by your employees and colleagues demonstrates confidence, strength, and passion. This will help build trust and credibility for your brand, as well as demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership. You can also post valuable resources for your team and useful information or opportunities that can help  colleagues in their career.

Examples: Across several channels, Morgan Stanley Senior Client Advisor Carla Harris showcases positive and consistent messaging around leadership, empathy, and innovation, highlighting employees as well as diversity and social causes.

It’s also important to align your content with a larger vision. Creating and sharing posts that demonstrate your values and long-term goals inspires and engages your audience. Posting about societal issues and causes that resonate with your values can also bolster your vision statement.

Example: Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwean businessman and philanthropist (founder and executive chairman of Econet Group; and co-founder of Higherlife Foundation) shares content to help young African entrepreneurs.

4. Address industry trends (and get ahead of crises)

Social media platforms offer you a chance to cut through the noise and communicate directly and clearly with your audience, often in real-time. This could mean anything from sharing news and updates about your company to commenting on a trend or issue in your field.

Sharing knowledge on emerging trends, technologies, and problems not only allows you to tap into an active conversation but could also lead to earned media opportunities as you position yourself as a spokesperson for your industry.

For example, Adena Friedman, chair and CEO at Nasdaq, regularly posts and comments on financial trends and news.

Social media also affords you the opportunity to control the narrative and address crises or problems as they arise. Having an established social media presence already in place adds considerably to your credibility when it comes to addressing a company gaff or controversy.

5. Engage with followers

CEOs who don’t engage with their followers — whether staff, consumers, or third parties— are missing out on one of the most valuable elements of social element. As a two-way street, it’s a powerful way to build dialogue and cultivate relationships. It’s also a great way to get feedback about your company, business, image, and/or industry, giving you insights on how to adjust your social media strategy.

By simply listening, you can learn more about your audience’s needs and expectations, improve customer satisfaction, increase brand awareness, and generate leads. Some best practices include joining relevant industry groups and associations; tagging and mentioning other conversation participants; and posting content, like polls, quizzes, or other features that encourage engagement.

For instance, General Motors CEO Mary Barra regularly comments on her employees’ posts.

Implementing social media strategies like these can help bolster your  leadership bona fides and lead to greater growth for you company, shine a light on your employees, and give a human face to your industry. However, social media does require time and effort, and many CEOs and business leaders just don’t have the resources to post consistently and creatively, not to mention engage with followers and share others’ content.

If this sounds like you, then your next step might not be to start another social media account. Instead, contact an agency like CSuite Content whose speciality is supporting executives with end-to-end social media management, from strategy to content creation to publishing and community engagement.

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