How Financial Services CEOs Can Embrace Social and Lead By Example

Social media should be an important component of any financial services organization's communications plan. A key element of this strategy is to have leadership involved on social channels, being approachable to customers, shareholders and partners.

The role of CEO in today’s fast-paced environment has changed. Gone are the days of the secluded, visionary CEO. Organizations and their customers expect a more transparent and human side from company leadership.

CEOs are the embodiment of their brand and the values the organization represents. Recent analysis shows that 61% of Fortune 500 CEOs globally have no social media presence at all. Yet the same study found that 76% of executives prefer to work for a “social CEO.”

That disparity brings both challenges and benefits. In the end, going all in on social improves the pathways for attracting talent, retaining employees and making the organization more relatable to its target audience.

Social media has been a driving factor in the shifting demands on CEOs. Consumers expect CEOs not only to be present on social but to be an active participant – a champion on behalf of the brand and the company.

That’s especially important in financial services. The sector’s very core is founded on relationships and trust. In the age of AI and robo-advisors, staying focused on the human element and your brand’s approachability will be a key factor in retaining customers and talent.

Executive buy-in is critical to an organization’s overall digital transformation. That means personal participation and ownership. CEO and executive leadership using social media creates the model and sets the tone for an entire organization to scale out on social.

From a social sales team to employee advocates, starting from the top can really build out your organization as a human-connected business. With that in mind, following is a guide to the best tactics you can use right now on the most popular social channels – taking cues from CEOs who are leading the way.

Using LinkedIn to Connect and Amplify Thought Leadership

LinkedIn is an important channel for financial services leaders. And because of its business-focused nature, it’s a platform many CEOs easily gravitate toward.

Robert Reynolds, President and CEO of Putnam Investments and Great-West Financial, has built out his LinkedIn profile to the point where he is considered a LinkedIn influencer, with over 150,000 followers subscribed to his news feed.

As a leader, Reynolds writes thoughtful articles on LinkedIn covering industry news and analysis, commentary on leadership lessons, connecting with the Millennial demographic and protecting consumer interests. His thought leadership posts mirror the values Putnam Investments presents through its branding and provides a very human and personal window into the leadership of the organization.

Stretch Your Social Muscle on Facebook and Twitter

Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter might provide more of a challenge, but that does not mean that they can’t serve a purpose or be used effectively. Jack Salzwedel, CEO of American Family Mutual Insurance, is the single most active Fortune 500 CEO on Twitter.

He shares content far beyond company updates and insurance news, peppering in his personal interests in literature, arts and sports. He recently actively participated in conversations around the Olympic games, showcasing that it doesn’t have to be all business when targeting conversations. Authenticity and personal participation is key for a platform like Twitter, which values quick response and engagement over polish and curated messaging.

Blending Personal and Professional on Instagram

Meanwhile, on Instagram – a platform that can be a tough nut to crack in financial services – Manulife CEO Roy Gori manages to visually showcase strong team leadership and company spirit, while adding in some personal moments with his friends and family on his Instagram feed ‘thegoridetails’. It creates an overall impression of a very human CEO who is attempting to maintain a balance between his personal and professional life.

The Bottom Line

The consequence of not being on social media isn’t even a question in today’s digital world. Social media is a primary means of communication; it’s where a large portion of conversations are happening with prospects, customers and employees. As a CEO, if you’re not out there communicating your vision and voice, your audiences are listening to your competitors instead of you.

Being a “social CEO” is more critical than ever. Granted, there are challenges from an industry perspective – the need for compliance, the time commitment to be effective on each platform, and the balance of tone between personal/professional. But these are not insurmountable.

As a CEO, it’s best to get social and lead by example, before your competitors start taking over your social share of voice.

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