23 August 2019
Whenever I hear the phrase “business news”, it always makes me think of faceless men in suits. They all look the same and say the same things, and it’s really not interesting to me. In fact, I often find it distant, cold and pretty intimidating. I rarely see a “real” person talk about business at all. While I can see that, with a focus on crisis or market-moving stories, the people behind a business can be totally lost, it makes me wonder: should businesses be more human?
With the rise of the internet and the explosion of social media a no-brainer for most of us, leaders have been slow to grasp the opportunity to improve their connection to society, their consumers and their partners. This can create a stronger sense of trust, which is hugely beneficial for growth. Social media bypasses the need for journalists to be the ‘middleman’ and convey a business in a new way: with personality.
Gone are the days of having to go through journalists to try and get the right message across, and take control of their public image. Instead of worrying about what angle the journalist will take, they can get ahead of the story in a really authentic way. This is how thought leadership is formed, and how any CEO can establish themselves as a ‘thought leader’ within their industry. Yes, some people balk at the name, but thought leadership is here to stay.
As a CEO, you are your brand’s biggest asset; the face of the company, and a powerful sales tool. Twitter’s 2016 customer insights report showed that followers often become loyal customers and brand advocates. For CEOs of large companies, this level of visibility can be a double-edged sword; the higher your profile, the greater your chance of being called out for errors of judgement – but it’s important not to let that stop you. If you can afford it, you hire a professional (like us!) – but if you can’t, there are still ways you can exploit social media, humanise your brand, and stay out of trouble.
Look to CEOs like Tim Cook, Richard Branson, John Legere and Elon Musk, who are all examples of how CEOs can use social media to humanise their brands. They are undoubtedly representing their businesses, but they don’t use their platforms to sell. This is key. They are themselves. Admittedly, Elon Musk deserves a blog post to himself, but he’s edgy, disruptive and unique, and some would argue a terrific ambassador for his brand, and John Legere uses his unique personality to connect with customers.
So don’t let the fear of making a mistake put you off. Your customers will be waiting.