Authenticity, Credibility, Humanity: Amplifying Executive Thought Leadership on Social Media
July 13, 2021
We’re living in a whole new world.
The virtual work environment engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic not only caused a shift in mindset, socialization, and communication styles, but also a shift in both personal and professional priorities. As commuting patterns changed, corporate mandates evolved, and the couch became the new desk, consumers were left with little emotional bandwidth to consume news and, subsequently, began to look at social media channels in a different light. This new perspective impacted the amount of time spent on various social platforms and the types of engagements received and shared.
This new perspective also altered the expectations that consumers once had of brands and corporate social media accounts.
Consumers now require more from companies on social media. They want insight that goes beyond the corporate bottom line and quarterly earnings read-outs. They want to know about companies’ missions and purposes, their visions for an improved future, and to understand how they “do well by doing good.” Consumers are tired of corporate jibber jabber and, coupled with an increased craving for human connection driven by the pandemic, they are forcing corporate platforms to evolve.
There are three factors that consumers look for on social media: Authenticity, credibility, and humanity.
While many companies strive to share content laddering up to these three core consumer needs, the message and sentiment can fall flat when coming from a corporate handle. According to Sprout Social, seventy percent of consumers feel more connected to brands with CEOs who are active on social media. Consumers want to eliminate the out-of-reach feeling and veil of mystery that are often associated with C-suite executives and instead hear from them directly about the company and their internal and external goals.
Cue the increased need for executive thought leadership on social media.
Amplifying executive thought leadership on social media gives consumers what they crave. Eighty percent of social media users agree that social enhances the image and reputation of executives as forward-thinking, trend-setting leaders. While executive thought leadership could come to life across a variety of platforms, it is most frequently displayed on LinkedIn. The peer-to-peer network fosters the ability to discuss professional, corporate topics through an individual voice that can more naturally convey authenticity, credibility, and humanity.
With this uptick in demand, LinkedIn representatives and companies’ agency partners are now being tasked with helping those companies bolster an executive’s presence on the platform just as often as they’re tasked with developing a corporate strategy. This work can be scaled to meet each organization’s needs, but typically includes a four-phased approach that addresses the executive’s profile aesthetic, content messages, cadence and engagement on LinkedIn – and is essential to maximizing the value of additional efforts on this channel:
- Optimize the aesthetic and functionality of the executive’s LinkedIn handle to improve the user experience and increase the likelihood of future engagement.
- Define a personalized strategy to ensure the channel is ownable to the executive and not duplicative of the corporate content.
- Create tailored editorial calendars leveraging the executive’s voice and highlighting his/her expertise and sphere of influence.
- Engage directly with the community, fellow employees and other industry thought leaders to showcase collaboration and awareness of broader initiatives, breaking news and social trends.
While the phases are strategically ordered and executed, activities can be prioritized or parallel-tracked based on budget, internal bandwidth, or the executive’s comfort on the platform. And whether it’s due to their time constraints, humility, or simply a lack of understanding, some executives may be hesitant to activate a thought-leadership strategy. Agency partners and corporate communications teams alike must work directly with executives to ensure they understand the intricacies of the platform, the potential reach and impact of thought leadership work, as well as the benefits it can bring at the corporate level.
Once an executive is onboard, the opportunities are endless. They can use their handle to highlight the impact of corporate news on the community, outline a powerful vision for the future, give employees a high five for a job well-done, or share personal perspectives on breaking news. The content’s message and tone should convey the executive’s authentic perspective, credibility in the space, and humanity in the impact of the message. Once these three factors are made clear externally, the channel will become mutually beneficial at its core.
The recent shifts in consumer desires and demands are accelerating an exciting new chapter of communication and connection with companies and their leaders. Today’s social media ecosystem welcomes and empowers executives to share personal perspectives laddering up to professional expertise, enables companies to amplify news through various voices, and offers consumers the opportunity to experience authenticity, credibility and humanity when they have a well-deserved free moment to scroll through their social media channels.
We’re living in a whole new world. Let’s give the people what they want.