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Why senior executives should be on social media

24 Feb 2021
Read: 2 min

As a young whipper-snapper I was once told by my rugby coach to ‘lead by example’. Without hesitation, I pulled my socks up, rolled-up my sleeves and trudged onto the pitch with great intent. For an 8 year old, dressed in an oversized cotton shirt with a runny nose, this phrase meant a lot. On this occasion I think this simple statement empowered me to fulfil my potential as a leader for the good of the team.

However, as we get older the complexities of life mean we tend to overthink things and become more hesitant about leadership decisions. The ‘ifs’, ‘buts’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows' fill our heads, making it increasingly difficult to be decisive and trust our instincts.

  • If I do something, could something bad happen?
  • …but I don’t know if this is what I should be doing?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • How can I best lead by example?

All of these are very rational, normal questions for people to ask themselves in a professional environment.

Traditionally, senior leaders might focus on improving their ability to make good decisions, inspire others and communicate clearly. There are of course other characteristics that make a good leader, but I want to focus on communication.

A leader’s ability to be a good communicator has always been critical to their respective company’s success.

It sits at the heart of determining a company’s reputation and according to Forbes, “The reputation of a company’s leadership is directly responsible for 44% of a company’s market value.”

We have seen a shift in the way the C-suite communicate in recent years, with some leaders starting to take advantage of the opportunities social media presents to them. Social media is a powerful communication tool, (which in itself is daunting) but for years a lack of experience and nervousness around how to use these platforms has meant many leaders have shied away from the likes of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook et al.

Should CEO’s be on social media?

Nowadays there is no excuse for the c-suite to ignore these channels. Sprout Social found that “63% of people say CEOs who have their own social profiles are better representatives for their companies than CEOs who do not.” So, when done well, executives have an opportunity to not only build a platform which enhances their reputation and strategically deliver corporate messaging to a wider audience, but to also inspire their team to do the same. Taking initiative in this area could influence employees to follow suit thus grow the company’s online presence and in turn their reputation.

The key phrase here is ‘when done well’.

How does social media affect leadership?

On the flipside though, these channels keep senior executives awake at night with the very common concern of ‘getting it wrong’ - doing more harm than good and tarnishing their reputation. My message to you here is: you are not alone with these worries.

This is a very normal feeling and whilst it's easier said than done, try and remove the ‘ifs’, ‘buts’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ and channel the inner gusto of your younger self. Now is the time to explore the world of social media, the good and the bad. If this is a journey you want to take, here are a few points to remember:

  • Be authentic, how you behave online should reflect how you behave in person
  • Lead by example, set high standards for you and your team
  • Be a team player, be transparent and clear with your followers

Looking for inspiration? Then look no further than Starling Bank’s CEO Anne Boden. Despite being the leader of one of the UK’s most high profile fintech challenger banks, she’s found time to carve out a distinct social media presence that’s engaging and relevant.

As we face what could be another challenging year, I encourage senior leaders to add ‘creating a social media profile’ to their to-do list. If you need help understanding the most effective ways of doing this, please contact our social media consultants who would be happy to support you on this quest.

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