The CEO of HSBC, Noel Quinn shared his first post on LinkedIn last week.
This is what he wrote :
As of today, 19th October 2020, his post has had 16,000 views. With the above message. For Free. Granted, HSBC is a globally recognized brand, however, until his post appeared in my news feed on LinkedIn, I had no idea who the CEO of HSBC was. Now I do. I had a neutral view of them as a brand. It was just another global bank, however, since this post, I am now able to put a face to the name.
A person, a human, someone I can relate to on some level.
I am not suggesting that this will have the same impact on everyone, however, he is at least now visible.
If you look into his activity on Linkedin you can see he is commenting on employee posts. This simple act is so insanely powerful. It creates a direct connection between him and his employees. With employees who are likely to never ever meet, or have a conversation with him in person, yet, on social media, they can.
What this can drive from employee engagement, advocacy, trust and more is priceless. From one simple act of a like or comment. This can help from a recruitment perspective, and brand and purpose perspective. It will also make the brand of HSBC stand out from all the other global banks.
Another CEO who has grasped the power of being social is the CEO of bp, Bernard Looney. If you follow his activity on LinkedIn, you can see that he is engaging with his employees at a one-to-one level. Creating this same effect as Noel at HSBC.
Let's take a look at the Legal Industry - the CEO of Shakespeare Martineau, Sarah Walker-Smith has fully embraced social. Recent research by Simon Marshall showed that over the last 6 months or so, Sarah has amassed c. half a million impressions (views) of her content on LinkedIn. For free. This is a truly staggering result, for an industry that is perceived to be not social, or "on it"
Another Law firm leader who has taken social media by the scruff of its neck is Alice Stephenson, founder of Stephenson Law, follow her activity on LinkedIn and you know where she stands and calls it as she sees it. In a professional manner, which gives you an insight into her and her law firm. This drives an authentic brand, which will no doubt help with recruitment and driving client acquisition. Alice is also on TikTok as is her firm, this is where some of her future employees are, so it makes logical sense to communicate with them here.
Switching industries again, looking at the Commercial Real Estate sector, my former CEO, Guy Grainger is an avid user of social both on LinkedIn and Twitter. When I was interviewing for a role there, I had to present to the board. I was able to get some insight into who Guy was as a person, which meant I felt like I already "knew" him before having to make my presentation. It also meant when I was an employee, I felt "closer" to the leadership team as they were more visible.
Moving industries again, Benoit Laclau, the UK & Ireland Managing Partner for EY Consulting embraces social on LinkedIn, follow his activity and you will understand how impactful his activity is. He not only engages with his employees, but he also acts as a point of entry for EY client and future clients in how he shares and engages with content and thought leadership.
Let's change gear again.
Dana Denis-Smith, Founder of Obelisk Support and the First 100 Years. She understands how powerful social can be a platform to act as a leader and voice for those that cannot be heard, across LinkedIn and Twitter. She calls it as she sees it. In a professional manner, but takes a stand when a stand needs to be taken. This is incredibly powerful and acts as a catalyst for debate and conversation that needs to be had. I know Dana well, and she would say anything that she says on social, in person, which is an important aspect in all of this. You do need to be able to stand by what you say and do on social.
Kate Bradley Chernis is another CEO & Cofounder of a scale-up business called Lately. She is all over social media to drive awareness of her brand and product. This is why social is relevant at levels.
At the global end of the Market you are just another faceless brand, at the scale-up end of the market YOU are the brand, hence you need to be out there and visible, hence Kate and her team out there, having lots of conversations to drive awareness of her brand. This not only helps in finding new clients, but it also helps when looking to raise awareness with Venture Capital.
However, as Charlotte Crosswell from this report by Raconteur highlights
Any leader can use social media to have a presence. It doesn't matter if you employ 250,000 people or 25 people, your employees want to feel connected to you. We all know the quote "It's the little things in life which make a difference" - If you are a leader, think back to when you were starting out your career, as it developed, what were the little moments which stood out for you? Maybe even share this on social - be authentic, you are human, like the rest of us.
In this hyper-connected world, we live in, you all have a responsibility to your employees, especially how we currently find ourselves in where you cannot walk the floors, have those water-cooler moments and so forth.
If you are sitting there reading this, thinking, but I do not have time. I am sorry. That excuse does wash anymore. I have highlighted a number of CEOs from different industries and sizes of organizations - they make time for it. It is about breaking that thought process and creating a new habit. It can start by spending 5 minutes at the start of your day and scanning our own company page posts and dropping a "like".
Work with your social media team to set up news feeds for you using hashtags on LinkedIn or watch this 2 min video.
5 mins at the end of the day, do the same.
If you are already sending a weekly internal memo, which is public-friendly (or if it isn't, make it so) then share that as an update at the same time on LinkedIn or Twitter, or better still both.
If your firm has a corporate Instagram feed, consider going Live to give updates or run an AMA - ask me anything session.
Once you get into this habit and you start to get the positive feedback, I guarantee you will start to carve out more time during the course of your week or month. It is about being consistently present, little and often.
A like here, a comment there. A weekly post.
The outcomes these small actions can generate for your brand are worth potentially millions in free marketing, saving money on recruitment fees, and driving client acquisition. You will be invited to speak at events, on podcasts, conferences, and more.
Most importantly, you will change the perception of how your employees see you.
Providing a personalized, insider view on social media helps humanize a brand. Regardless of industry. Whether it’s the CEO, other C-levels, or employees, we're increasingly interested in the people and values behind a brand (especially a big one). It's no longer all about the products. Musk’s – and by proxy, Tesla’s - popularity sits with his willingness to share his random thoughts, ideas, failures, quirks. Where other executives play it safe. Which is a shame.