Being active on social media is no longer a nice-to-have for financial services executives in today’s hyper-connected world – it is a necessity. Both customers and employees expect a more transparent and human side from company leadership.
More than 75% of the top 50 highest-rated CEOs on Glassdoor are active on social media. Research by LinkedIn and Hootsuite found that executives can play a key role in using social media to enhance their firm’s reputation, attract talent, and increase sales. And according to Brandfog, consumers say seeing top executives on social makes a brand more trustworthy.
Social media savvy executives – whether the CEO, CFO, CMO, or others – use social to build trust with their audience through a willingness to engage in conversations and be transparent. The example they set – as authentic, multi-dimensional leaders – inspires and empowers others in the organization to share their own expertise and engage with customers on social.
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Leading Executives Use Social Media
In financial services, where building trust and transparency matters deeply, executives like Jack Salzwedel, CEO of American Family Mutual Insurance, are leading the way. Salzwedel is among the most active Fortune 500 CEOs on Twitter, where he shares his personal interests in literature, arts, and sports as well as industry-related updates and news.
Engaged, vocal CEOs such as Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner, T-Mobile’s John Legere, and Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes have all become the face of their companies on social. With the right support, executives can build an authentic and powerful social presence that supports the brand and company mission.
Here are some examples of how some of the most successful executives approach social, along with several tips for creating and maintaining a successful executive program at your company.
LinkedIn and Twitter are the two key channels for executives: LinkedIn for professional engagement and longer thought leadership articles, and Twitter as a less formal platform for reaching a broad audience. Where to post comes down to your overall social strategy and the audience you are seeking to reach. TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey taps into both where he champions employee achievements and positions himself as part of a wider team. That not only supports the firm’s mission but also puts a personal face on the brand, highlighting its commitment to employees and customers alike.
Jill Castilla, president, CEO and vice chairman at Citizens Bank, takes a local and personal approach, posting regional content that aligns with the bank’s brand values and recognizes people in the community.
Establish a Corporate Social Media Strategy
A strong social executive program takes a strategic approach to helping executives establish an influential and trustworthy social media personality and presence. To start, identify goals and tactics in advance, and guide and optimize executives’ social activities incorporating social media best practices for content and governance. Additionally, integrate best-in-class social tools for social listening, publishing, and measuring the key metrics for success.
Begin With Benefits of Social Media
Executives need to really believe what they are doing is worthy of their time and benefits the organization. To gain that buy-in, it’s important to reiterate the overall benefits of social media and its specific benefits for financial services organizations. Many executives still worry that it’s risky to participate on social media. Be sure to demonstrate how a well-planned social executive program resolves perceived risks around compliance, anxiety around time constraints, and other common concerns.
Define a process for creating, approving, and posting content. Will executives themselves generate the content, or the corporate marketing department? One approach is to align on a content creation schedule with executive calendars – conferences, industry announcements, and the like that are worthy of comment or sharing. A content process might look like this: Comms team creates content, executive edits, approves and posts content.
Beyond industry commentary, aim for a rich variety that can showcase an executive’s human side as well as thought leadership. As noted in Hootsuite’s 2019 Social Trends report, “Stories are growing in use across social channels. Leverage these in-the-moment, often raw videos as a more compelling format to engage your audience.”
Hitting the Mark
Content that is shared is content that has hit its mark. It shows that an executive knows the audience and is publishing information that is important, interesting, and timely to them. An executive who publishes a thought leadership piece and then engages with those who add comments is tapping into the power of social media much more effectively than someone who just broadcasts content without diving into the subsequent conversation.
Finally, establishing a presence on social media means being a consistently active participant over the long-term. Finally, be sure to listen as well as talk, social is most effective when its a two-way conversation. That means engaging with other people’s content as well. After all, that’s why it’s called ‘social’ media.
At the end of the day, executives who are not on social media are missing out on a massive opportunity to connect with their customers, employees, partners, media, and analysts, among other audiences. Don’t let another year go by with missed opportunity.