Leaders of small or medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have a lot on their plates. Unlike Fortune 500 CEOs, they don’t have the luxury of pushing important tasks down the ladder to hundreds of willing employees. They are often both the decision-maker and the doer, so it is imperative to be steadfast about where and how they spend their time. For these smaller-company leaders, spending time on social media—sharing thought leadership on LinkedIn and/or tweeting about the latest award on the mantle doesn’t always make it to the top of their priority lists. In fact, many believe these are quite clearly the Marketing team’s responsibilities…so why spend time on a B2B social media strategy? Below we share some of the reasons that many of our clients have made the investment.
- Generate brand awareness – When CEOs engage on social media in an authentic way, they build their personal brands while improving the company brand. Brand awareness is particularly important in the B2B world where many purchases follow an involved and sometimes long, sales cycle. Not having awareness or credibility in the market means a company doesn’t even make it into the consideration set in the first place.
- Demonstrate thought leadership – According to HootSuite, the world’s top 100 CEOs on social media share valuable content. Inc.com states that, “this can include industry insights, leadership tips and advice, commentary on news and trends, video Q&As with followers–and more.” Content is king in B2B, and over 3 out of 4 buyers and sellers now prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions—a sentiment that has steadily intensified even after lockdowns ended in some regions. As a social CEO, you have the opportunity to share your unique message while supporting your firm’s other sales and marketing efforts. One of our clients, the CEO and Founder of a high-growth B2B SaaS startup, was initially reluctant to post thought leadership articles as an influencer on LinkedIn. Dipping her toe into the world of being a social CEO turned her into a bit of an addict. She came to appreciate and value the engagement from her network, as her customers, employees and others would actively like, comment on, and share her posts. She was able to reactivate a valuable network that helped support her company’s growth trajectory, and she quickly learned to balance the time she invested herself while leaning on her marketing team to extend her reach.
- Build greater employee morale – According to the 2019 “Connected Leadership” study by the Brunswick Group, 65% of full and part-time U.S. workers of companies say it’s important for CEOs to actively communicate about their companies online, with 60% checking executive social media accounts before accepting a job offer. Without utilizing social media, CEOs are missing a crucial opportunity to break down barriers between the C-suite and their employees, as well as connect with potential candidates. Increased employee morale positively affects the company culture and reduces the company’s spend on hiring and replacing top talent, which is critical for many smaller firms—in particular those entering a rapid growth phase.
- Proactively manage crisis situations – Social media can be a powerful tool for CEOs to share important messages quickly and efficiently during a crisis situation. It’s important to remember that the message must be genuine, professional, and actionable. Marriott’s CEO, the late Arne Sorenson, shared a powerful video message to Marriott associates and the community in March of 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. His five-minute video shared insight into the realities of the economic situation in the industry and the proactive and concrete steps the company took to address cut costs and protect their employees. The message displayed genuine, authentic leadership and ended an emotional and hopeful note, and was well-received.
- Bolster search results – A social CEO’s activity should be considered part of a comprehensive B2B marketing program because of its impact on areas such as search engine optimization. While many marketers believe that search engine optimization is all about keyword usage, in reality, there’s much more to it. For example, Google’s “Knowledge Graph” connects not just terms, but people, places and things and their connections to each other. Put simply, this makes the CEO of any brand likely to show up in a search of the company name. Social CEOs contribute to brand visibility and vice versa, which can help to elevate the brand’s organic search ranking.
- Showcase innovation – Many innovative firms today have interesting and impactful stories to share about how they got to where they are—and where they’re headed. Showcasing a firm’s innovations in the right way can catch the attention of potential customers, industry influencers, investors, and other key audiences—in ways that can even surpass what the largest paid media budgets can accomplish.
- Build trust and credibility – Particularly for smaller or younger firms competing against more established players, CEOs can use social media to help establish themselves as a credible option in the market. CEOs can showcase their industry knowledge and expertise. They can also use their smaller size to their advantage—perhaps building up their brand as an accessible CEO who is responsive and pays close attention to what’s happening in the market.
- Build better relationships with media – Many writers, bloggers, and influencers use social media as a key source of information for data and building out their own networks. CEOs who are actively engaged—sharing and creating content and insights—are more likely to build an authentic relationship with the types of influencers that can help land quotes in national publications, bylined articles, and invitations to speaking opportunities. This is often most likely when paired with at least a basic influencer or media relations program, but a CEOs engagement sets a strong foundation.
- Attract new investors, employees and other stakeholders – CEOs can use social media to strategically release information about new products, events, leadership changes, and other company-related announcements. Done right, these CEOs can add personality and intrigue to the way people receive company information. It can help support a company’s efforts to drive more inbound opportunities their way.
Because of these benefits, it’s no wonder that social media has become so popular among business leaders. 62% of Fortune 500 CEOs have a presence on at least one social media platform, and 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions in some form.
Like our client who was hesitant to make the leap, being social isn’t something most CEOs inherently jump into. Many haven’t received coaching or training on social media best practices and shy away from it. Others don’t understand how they can best lean on their marketing team to build a genuine voice while getting support to offload the time investment.
For those B2B SMB CEOs who are taking advantage of social media to spread their message, they realize it’s a highly effective way to communicate with clients, employees, stakeholders, investors, and others.
Are you interested in how to get started the right way? Are you unsure of the best practices across each channel? As part of our engagements, we carve out time for social selling workshops and can focus on how CEOs can shine on social media. Contact us to get the conversation rolling.