Social networking, a good way for c-levels to bond with customers

People now rely more on word of mouth, social groups, recommendations, and strong connections to make decisions. As a company, what people think about you is now more important than ever before, because the public has the power to destroy you or make you through social media. Nowadays, consumers have a direct connection with companies and their voices are being heard, they are expecting immediate answers and they are adding more emphasis on ‘trust’ when they are deciding to purchase. Thus, individuals at any level of an organization, and especially executives need to not only become more accessible but more vulnerable as well. Consumers are looking for the human element when doing business with an organization. Social media (blogging, social networks, etc.) can greatly increase your visibility and show customers that there are actual people behind the corporate brand you’ve developed.

The social media strategy, seen as an extension of an overall marketing and branding strategy, needs to see data and sentiments shared through different channels as opportunities to improve presence, reach, and sales. An executive’s role is important in this strategy because of the direct association they have with their brands, they can influence a brand’s image through strategic comments and statements.

In fact, it’s not only customers who feel a C-level’s presence on social platforms creates better trust, a survey also revealed that 82% of employees trust their company more when the CEO and leadership team communicate via social media. In other words, socializing with C-levels shows transparency, by posting honest and exciting messages; you’ve got a working recipe for a better business narrative and increased visibility as a thought-leader.

Therefore, corporate leaders must be invested in every aspect of the business and embrace technology, communication and social changes. The CEO, as the face of the company now more than ever before, must take social risks. Through social media CEOs have a platform to carry out messages, share company values, and attract new audiences. They must show their direct voice, they can share sneak peeks, daily snapshots and what’s more important: their personality.

social media, social networking_Ceo Executive search_jason hanold

Image courtesy of Daniel Iversen at Flickr.com

Since members of the C-level don’t have a lot of time to be managing multiple social accounts, having the right tools is an important aspect of being successful on social media and keeping the accounts active and engaging. Some of the most popular social outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all provide established platforms for companies to share perspectives, insight, or other content from executives. Even better, analyzing and monitoring those platforms can provide wider and more updated information on the key demographics of the company and prospects; allowing access to their interests, opinions, concerns and feelings. This will lead to a better direction in product development, better sales, prospect targeting, customer service and a better competitive differentiation. However, start small by identifying one social platform that is most applicable. Blogs and Twitter are generally the best platforms for executives to start.

But wait there’s more, before going straight into these platforms a CEO should have their own bio page complete with information on their professional background; a high quality headshot; and more importantly links to find Facebook updates, Twitter feed, a list of speaking engagements and news articles; essentially anything anyone would want to know all easily found in one place. It’s clear that reputation almost always comes first. Often, a potential client has already researched not only the organization but the C-executive as an individual. A survey found that 78% of executives look up sales people prior to meeting with them. So it’s important to think about what kind of digital presence is being made and determine if it will make a potential client come on board or scare them away.

Regarding Twitter, it’s a fact that more and more people are looking for company executive profiles to see if there’s a face behind the organization. If there is no profile to be found, it sends a message that he or she isn’t open for conversation, much less for business. So the first thing to do is customize your Twitter profile to make it look nice and appealing, inform potential followers who you are, and provide a reason why you’re worth a follow.

Remember that when it comes to Twitter, it doesn’t really matter where the content you tweet came from but that it’s plentiful, entertaining, educational, or otherwise valuable to your existing and future followers. Don’t be afraid to show your personality, but be careful not to have long conversations unless it’s via direct message and don’t ever ignore direct messages. Try not to be boring by creating content that people will relate to. However, content may be difficult to generate when you’re posting every day, so don’t be afraid to quote others, tweet what you read with a personal commentary and retweet with commentary as well. To keep the conversation flowing always leave room for others to comment and always respond to @messages. Don’t forget to follow all your customers, follow your leads and prospects and in general follow anyone mentioning your brand.

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