CEOs and leaders with an active digital presence have greater influence than those without. They are seen as being more connected, more confident and more curious.

Why is this important?

Well, a few reasons. The biggest of which is that it will help you solve a few of the challenges facing many organisational leaders today. You know the ones: finding and keeping good people; managing customer expectations; providing greater experiences for your people (including your workforce and your customers) so they want to do business with you; showing greater transparency and accountability.

Having an active digital (and yes, this includes social media) presence, where you share your thoughts, ideas and knowledge will help you position yourself as an expert in your field, and your business as an industry leader. It will also help you become more known, both internally and externally.

Why CEOs need a strong digital presence

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Having an active digital presence will allow people to get to know, like and trust you more.

Having a digital presence isn’t only about being active on social media. It also includes using other digital tools – writing a blog, sharing videos on YouTube, having an active presence on your company intranet or internal networking tool (such as Yammer or Facebook for Work), being a podcast guest (or hosting your own), sharing content on LinkedIn and Medium.

CEOs and industry leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin), Bill Marriot (Mariott Hotels), Naomi Simson (Red Balloon), Rand Fishkin (SparkToro, formerly CEO Moz), Cathie Reid (ICON Group), and Mark Hindle (Parkinson’s Queensland) are all leaders who regularly share their thoughts using digital media – whether it’s blogging, video, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, internal networks or a combination.

They share their experiences – the good, bad and sometimes ugly – of what it’s like to live the life of a leader. They share professional wins and losses, personal stories, photos and video with their families, their thoughts on their industry’s future and so much more.

In particular, Rand Fishkin’s extremely honest post about his struggle with depression is one that will stay with me for a long, long time, largely because it’s the first time I’ve read something so raw written by a CEO. This post made me want to know him a whole lot more. It also made me want to give him a hug. And yes, it made me want to know more about his business and how I could support it.

CEOs with a digital presence also have the opportunity to share their thoughts on matters that are in the public sphere. The recent Marriage Equality debate saw many CEOs and leaders sharing their personal views, and taking a stand on behalf of their organisations. In a podcast episode with Gabrielle Dolan, EY CEO Tony Johnson shared how publicly declaring his and EY’s support for the marriage equality campaign strengthened the sense of inclusiveness of the workforce within EY.

Recent research from Weber Shandwick shows that CEO activism positively influences purchasing decisions, with 46% of consumers more likely to buy from a company led by a CEO who speaks out on an issue they agree with. This figure has increased significantly from 2017 (46% vs 38%).

When it comes to recruitment, research from Deloitte shows that millennials want to work for executives with a clear vision of how they will help improve society. Great, you might think. I can do that. Unfortunately for most CEOs, 75% of these millennials believe that businesses and their leaders have no focus beyond their own narrow agendas. Oh. That’s probably because most millennials get their news from digital sources on their smartphones. And most CEOs don’t share information that way.

Are you a social CEO? What does your digital presence look like? What’s stopping you from doing more?

Mel Kettle works with CEOs, Boards and leaders of associations, not-for-profits and other organisations to help them communicate effectively and authentically so they attract, retain and engage their people. To inquire about working with Mel, please email mel@melkettle.com or call her on 0404 600 889.

Order a signed copy of Mel’s book, The Social Association – 5 key skills not-for-profits need to increase member engagement, generate ROI and create a thriving online community, published in February 2018.