In the fragmented world of social media, most top level executives in the Middle East like CEOs, COOs and CFOs choose to remain invisible. They lack a social media presence on major platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and a sizeable amount of them focus on LinkedIn.
The problem here is that today, almost everyone who is online is reachable in some way or the other and if your brand is reachable on it, there is no reason why you, as the CEO of your company, shouldn’t be. In the late 90s, a brand being online was considered convenient and trendy. Fast forward to 2017, it is no longer about the convenience of technology but is more about capitalizing on a cultural shift that has begun to reshape the way we do business worldwide.
In most developed markets, consumers want to check out the profile of the CEO of a particular brand to make sure that he or she identifies with the values and philosophies of the brand or the company. This helps win confidence and to a certain extent plays a part in the decision making process. This is exceptional for B2B businesses. Let’s put it this way; if you’re going to research a company before becoming a customer or partner, why not research the CEO?
Putting your personal brand online for people to see gives your customers confidence in the brand. While it is important for CEOs to identify with the core values of their brand, you don’t have to spew corporate talk and jargon on your personal profile. The idea is to let people in on your personality. Let them discover the non-official side of you so that they can not only be fans of your corporate page but become fans of you as well.
To explain this better, ever wondered why celebrities come to talk shows and similar programs? Obviously, they want screen time to promote their movie or music album but they also want to showcase their personalities to the public. This enables regular folks to see their human side and in some cases, people may even relate to them. It is pretty much a similar case with CEOs being on social media.
So what do you do to get the ball rolling and where do you start? Read on…
One: Start small
Start with one or two networks that work for you but try and figure out the segment that you are communicating with. Are you talking to your customers or the entire community? What social media channels do they use? Picking the right network is as much about where your audience lives as it is about how you like to communicate.
If you’re the person that likes to communicate through visuals, maybe Instagram or Snapchat are good fits. If your audience is more traditional and likes to read long form posts, facebook is more suited to you. A few of you may be thinking “facebook is not as popular in Kuwait” but the truth is, it is enjoying a kind of resurgence and is becoming popular once again. Finally, if you are a multi-tasker who likes to provide commentary on the goings on in the day, twitter is your tool. In order to cultivate a more wholesome professional image, LinkedIn would be your best bet and this is where you ensure that your personal values are aligned with those of your business.
Two: Don’t be “salesy”
I know that really isn’t a word but you get the idea. Remember, salesy = sleazy. Social media is not about talking at your audience but talking to them. While it is OK to occasionally brag about the award your company won recently or to advertise the new product you will be launching soon, don’t go for the over-kill. Talk to your followers and engage in a conversation. This is a great way to move around corporate communications guidelines and brand marketing guidelines and focus on creating relationships with customers who want to buy from you.
Three: post regular content
You don’t always have to have original content on your feeds and it is perfectly all right to curate content with your views and opinions. Share headlines in your industry, provide your commentary and invite discussions from the crowd or from your peers like other CEOs and influencers. This is a great way to tag other players on social media channels and drive attention to your brand. Once you get the hang of this, you can focus on creating your own content and position yourself as an influencer.
If you are good at it, your followers will eventually start advocating for you and help drive sales and eventually increase your brand value.
Barry Rodrigues is Head of Marketing & Product Development at Future Communications and an associate advisor with the International Advisors Group in Kuwait. For comments, please email Barry at [email protected].