Many businesses have jumped on the content bandwagon – establishing their brand leadership and distributing those insights via their social media platforms. But even though they’re producing great content, the shares and comments aren’t following.
That’s because when it comes to engagement – people socialize with people – not companies. Consider this: studies conducted by LinkedIn and other social monitors cite that posts published by individuals generate ten times the followers and two times the click-throughs than those posted by the company. Readers also indicated that they trust the validity of an article published by an individual more than one that is published by a brand.
What these statistics reinforce is the important role CEOs, executives, and employees-at-large play when it comes to establishing a brand’s reputation online. This extends across talent recruitment to content engagement. There’s a clear business opportunity for organizations to expand and humanize their social media brands by strategically positioning members of their executive team as digital influencers on key social media platforms. These executives, in turn, can then serve as a vehicle for brand content, engaging the community as subject matter experts, and guiding discussions as thought leaders.
But many executives are either too busy or too unfamiliar with the platforms, to leverage their personal social media platforms to support the larger brand content strategy. So how can you set-up a system to make establishing executive eminence on social media actually happen?
1. Optimizing profiles
Executive channels have a halo effect and serve as gateways for influencers to deepen their knowledge of the organization’s products and services. The first and easiest way to cultivate executive eminence online and amplify your content marketing efforts is to optimize your team’s social profiles – specifically LinkedIn, given how much opportunity there is to inject keywords that support your broader brand strategy.
The key to optimizing profiles is to identify the keywords that are associated with your brand’s area of expertise and feature them prominently throughout your team’s LinkedIn profiles. This includes their headlines, contact information, recommendations, and educational references.
Establishing a strategy for inbound links is another way to build your team’s social presence. Linking to the executive’s personal social pages from the brand’s social pages, posts, and the company website will inevitably build rankings that benefit all. An easy to do this is to have corporate biographies and any authored blog content automatically link to an executive’s LinkedIn pages.
2. A Steady Cadence of Content
Publishing social content is the cornerstone of an online executive eminence program that effectively compels business decision-makers and engages key influencers long-term. The optimal cadence for publishing content is three tweets and one LinkedIn update daily – and one or two long-form LinkedIn posts per month.
Again, this can appear overwhelming to busy executive teams who are focused on other business building activities. But it doesn’t have to be if the marketing team can manage content generation and write thought-leadership posts on behalf of the executive team as part of their larger brand content strategy.
Achieving this requires a Content Strategy Statement that supports the brand’s content strategy but is personalized to the executive. There are many tools for building strategy statements online. Essentially, it should clearly define the core audience the executive wants to reach, and the value the reader will gain from following the executive. For example:
My social media channel is where [audience X] finds [content Y] for [benefit Z].
Having a clear Content Strategy Statement makes deciding what to write easy, as it provides a point of focus. We find it helps filter what kind of content to write – whether that is advice related to the executive’s area of expertise, key messages that link back to the brand’s services and differentiators, as well as commentary on trending industry topics and news of the day.
3. Engaging Influencers
The next way to build executive eminence on social platforms is to connect with influencers. Digital influencers are those individuals have an established and engaged following who respect the influencer as the expert on a given topic. Their followers have self-identified as interested in the topics that they address, and they read and engage with content and accounts that the influencer amplifies. Again, influencers are more likely to connect thought leader-to-thought leader versus with a brand broadly.
To find influencers to connect with, you can search for shared keywords on LinkedIn or a third-party service like Buzzsumo, and then send a LinkedIn request personally as well as follow their company LinkedIn page. It’s also useful to look at the group’s influencers are aligned with, and consider joining those groups to uncover and connect with other users who may find value in your expertise.
Once an influencer is identified, the best way to ensure they engage with your content is to like and share theirs. Given that everyone is on social media platforms to boost their message, this is a sure-fire way to generate goodwill and increase the likelihood of engagement.
4. Scale to support multiple leaders
Depending on the size of your organization, there may be more than one executive team member that can help your brand’s thought-leadership position. Each individual executive can “own” a specific aspect of the company’s established expertise and reinforce more general brand messages.
For larger teams, especially sales networks, tools like LinkedIn Elevate or Bambu can empower individuals with suggested content and imagery produced by the marketing team that can be segmented by topic area – creating a streamlined process that incentivizes participation but still supports personalization.
The point is to make it easy for team members to publish original content – and share content that’s produced by the brand. Because to optimize your brand’s performance in the knowledge economy, you need to be seen as a company of subject matter experts.