When it comes to social media, the suite of options and risk of blunders can be daunting for anyone, especially top tier executives where recent history (a la Elon Musk) shows the stakes are high. So, in the age of profiles, posts, DMs and stories, here are the top ten things every executive should do on social media:
- Audit Your Existing Footprint: Step 1: Google yourself. This may sound like a no-brainer but many C-suite executives have inactive LinkedIn profiles and other dormant social media accounts on their page one search results. Social media is your opportunity to control your search results — and by extension, the public narrative around your professional brand.
- Don’t Overcommit: You don’t need to join every social platform at the same time. Start with one that is on-brand for you. If you’re a great photographer and looking to engage with millennials, join Instagram. If you’re more adept at the written-word and looking to target upwardly-mobile professionals, join LinkedIn. Not every executive is meant for every social platform.
- Staff Your Social: Social media can seem deceptively “easy” to those whom have never known the burden of maintaining a digital feed. So whatever platform(s) you choose, commit to it and dedicate the necessary time and resources. Maybe it’s a staff of three or maybe it’s a recurring hold on your Outlook calendar to post daily? Just create a framework and stick to it.
- Be Authentic: Show a little of your life outside of the office. Are you a mom, a runner, a book worm and a foodie? Give your audience a glimpse into this by taking photos, sharing book recommendations and making dad jokes. Be the You that You are with friends and family. Demonstrating authenticity will encourage people to trust, like, follow and engage with you more.
- Identify Your Key Messaging Pillars: Are you a native New Yorker, coder and international relations expert committed to improving equal access to education? Identify your priorities and areas of expertise and maintain a steady pipeline of posts to support these.
- Cultivate a Content Calendar: Many best-in-class brands plan their social as far as 90 days in advance. While executives may not have the same luxury of predictability, most can still plan a week out. Look at your personal and professional calendars for the week ahead and identify at least one or two moments that you can share on social.
- Engage with Others: Read an interesting op-ed from another industry leader? Share it. Appreciate honest feedback from an employee or social media user? Like it. Such engagements will reinforce your accessibility and create a revolving door of good will from these folks in the future.
- Diversify Your Content: Share photos, videos and text. Different formats work better for different messages and maintaining a variety will help keep your followers engaged. And, on this topic, despite reports of the declining human attention span, there is still an appetite for long-form content, especially on LinkedIn. If there’s a topic you’re particularly passionate about and knowledgeable on, write a LinkedIn article. Bonus points if the topic is timely or trending. Speaking of timely…
- Participate in Timely Moments: Thanks to the rise of social media, there have never been more internet holidays to celebrate. From Motivation Monday and Throwback Thursday to Dog Appreciation Day, practically every day is tied to a larger cultural moment or celebration. Join in these existing, trending conversations to the extent that they are on-brand and resonate with you.
- Stay Safe: There are a couple of key ways executives need to stay safe on social media: the first is physically and the second is legally. On the former, if you want to post your exact location on social media, it’s always safest to wait to until after you leave. If you must share real-time location updates, limit it to very public venues or generalize it to the city. Real-time location tagging does create transparency but it also poses vulnerability to paparazzi and stalkers. To stay safe legally, before launching a new social media profile or campaign, have a conversation with your respective lawyers and compliance officers on how you plan to use social media. If stakeholders need to review certain posts before they publish, create a process that is reasonable for both sides. Bottom line: Use common sense with information-sharing and if you aren’t sure, check with a trusted adviser.