You only have to spend a few short minutes scrolling through your LinkedIn newsfeed to come across a blog or social media update posted by a high-profile business leader. When you do, have you ever found yourself questioning “How do they find the time? Should I be doing the same thing?”
As a business leader, every hour of your working day is critical. So, spending fifteen minutes updating your LinkedIn profile, or even scheduling a few tweets, understandably, and almost inevitably slips down the priority list.
Being honest, there is also a fear factor at play here. Many business leaders like to feel the security of authority, either hierarchical or crafted from experience, and the majority of their daily interactions reinforce that preference.
Pushing the boat out into the digital ocean is different because most leaders are not digital natives. They feel that more junior people are more comfortable and confident navigating these waters and they can feel nervous about making mistakes and losing credibility. However, and I’m speaking from personal experience here – as the leader of a business, it is fundamental you maintain a consistent and engaging social media presence, and here’s why.
Position yourself and your company as experts
First and foremost, we all want our organisations to be seen as ‘the go-to experts’ in our respective fields. Speaking at events, writing reports and deploying advertising campaigns are all, of course, great ways of building our brands and driving engagement. One way that you can boost and elevate this activity though, is through sharing this content via your personal social media accounts. Why? Well, according to this report, 82 percent of people believe that executive level engagement on social media demonstrates industry expertise and leadership.
So, why not give it a go? Spend a few minutes per day sharing a piece of your company’s content with your LinkedIn network. Not sure what content to share? Your marketing department should be able to give you a steer on this. You could even take this one step further. If you have a spare couple of hours over a weekend, during the evening or whilst travelling, and enjoy writing, you could even try publishing a blog via LinkedIn.
At Hays, our c-Suite executives and directors, myself included, frequently share their expertise by writing blogs which give useful advice to employers and job seekers alike. We have found that this activity has been well worth our time in terms of the reach, engagement and awareness this has brought to our business. The critical part is to identify your area of credible expertise – what is it that you understand well – and focus your digital identity in that field of interest.
Earn the trust of others
As our CEO Alistair Cox states in a recent blog “In today’s always-connected, always-on, social media age, never before have leaders been under so much intense scrutiny. On a daily basis, their actions, whether good or bad, can be picked apart on a world stage – the internet.” In fact, trust in leaders has fallen to an all-time low, at least according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer.
But effective use of social media can actually help you build trust with your audience. According to this report, over 80 percent of customers are more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership team are active on these channels.
The stats speak for themselves. It is well-recognised nowadays that storytelling is the key to engaging an audience, and that trusted interactions are more powerful than advertising. I know that for me, at least, there’s something about having a CEO who is personally present on social media, which gives an organisation that little bit more transparency and trustworthiness.
Engage with your customers using the right mediums
Recent statistics show that the vast majority will be more likely to buy from an organisation whose brand values are communicated through company’s leadership figures via social media, and this doesn’t surprise me. Think about it, by using mediums like blogs, podcasts and so forth, you will talk directly to your audience via the platforms that they are using on a day in, day out. More so, by using your personal channels, you are effectively speaking in your own unique tone of voice, communicating the more human side of you, and your business.
Attract the best talent
It’s not just your customers who care about your online presence. Four out of five employees believe that CEOs who engage on social media are better equipped to lead companies in the modern world. Therefore, you can use your social media platforms to position yourselves as an employer who has its finger very much on-the-pulse, thereby appealing to this talent pool.
Not only this, you can also use these platforms to build a perception that your company is an approachable employer who engages with their staff. Whether it’s sharing images of staff socials or writing an article talking about why your company is such a great company to work for, use your resources to provide an insight into the best aspects of day to day life at your organisation. For example, we like to show our Instagram followers what it’s like to work for Hays, so we encourage our staff to post images of staff socials, award ceremonies and fun office activities, using the hashtag #WeAreHays.
Set a good example
According to this report, content shared by employees on social media drives eight times more engagement than content shared via brand channels. Therefore, it is important that you set an example for your employees, and provide a role model for future leaders. What better way to do that than to become more socially active yourself? This is definitely an approach that we’ve seen work well for our business.
Take me for example, I frequently share Hays company updates, and these tend to generate between 5,000 and 7,000 views. My colleagues and external network will also share by updates, creating somewhat of a ripple effect. Not only that, but our CEO Alistair Cox is a LinkedIn Influencer, and has been since 2012. He frequently posts thought leadership blogs surrounding the world of work and was named one the UK’s top ten influencers in 2015. It’s no coincidence then, that our workforce is incredibly socially engaged, reflected in the fact that last year, we won the award of “Most Socially Engaged Global Recruitment Company”
Add wider value
One of the most enriching consequences of digital engagement is the opportunity to influence the environment around you for the better. Companies don’t operate is isolation, we are a key part of the economy and society itself. An online platform can allow you to support ideas, values and initiatives that are aligned with your company’s activity. In my case, I feel that I have an opportunity (and indeed a responsibility) to promote initiatives that will lead to growth in employment or improve equality in the workplace, for example.
Quite simply but very importantly: when business leaders share our knowledge we are helping others. And sharing knowledge digitally means that there are no borders or limits to the help we can give. There is a saying in Spanish that everyone needs to contribute their grain of sand. I have received feedback and engagement about my blogs from many different countries, some of them in the developing world, and every time someone tells me they found my opinion or suggestion useful, I feel that I have contributed my grain of sand.
Hopefully, by now I have convinced you why, as a leader, it’s important for you to have a strong social media presence. Yes, it’s a commitment, there’s no denying that, but when you consider the benefits this activity can bring to your company’s reputation, talent pool and engagement levels, as well as developing your own skill set and contributing your “grain of sand” to help others, you can see that it really is worth it.