The best practices of the modern social executive

You’re in the midst of the next social-media evolution. Mobile video consumption has grown precipitously and the rise of video platforms and virtual reality are going to make a significant difference to the way everyone consumes content.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

" Have [executives] grasped the ‘new world’ of social or are they still struggling to see the value?"
Darren Sibson, BlueNotes contributing editor

You’re in the midst of the next social-media evolution. Mobile video consumption has grown precipitously and the rise of video platforms and virtual reality are going to make a significant difference to the way everyone consumes content.

In this period of accelerated digital evolution, how can executives make sure they survive – or stand out? And are socially inactive executives dinosaurs in the digital world?

So why is it important for executives to be social? One reason, consumers. In 2015 the Financial Times reported 77 per cent of consumers would buy more from their favourite brands if the company’s CEO was tweeting.

Brandfog survey also revealed 75 per cent of consumers believe C-Suite social media engagement makes a brand seem more honest and trustworthy, up 7 per cent from the previous survey.

According to Twitter’s managing director of online sales in the Asia pacific, Aliza Knox, the best way for executives to get noticed on social media is to build and enhance their profiles by describing what they do and what their values are.

“Tell your followers what they’ll get from you, and explain your mission. Why are you here?” she says.

"A social executive has the ability to listen to what consumers have to say as well as communicate a narrative about their company. It’s also a great way to attract and retain talent”.

You might say she might say that. You could take the advice of the FT’s Lucy Kellaway who says if you don’t have a huge name or launch rockets into space but are merely the CEO of a vast business, there’s no point in tweeting.

She has a point. It seems we don’t want to just see a plethora of inspirational quotes or what executives got up to on their holidays. But we do want to see what they have to say on the direction of their business or insights in to their area of expertise. For the audience, the question is always “What’s in it for us?”


The world of social media is not new. We’re no longer surprised by the speed of its uptake or the influence it has throughout our communities.

Brands are beginning to master social customer servicing techniques such as a focused effort on providing 24 hour support services via Twitter and Facebook; traditional media has been disrupted by start-up online news publications; the rise of video, virtual reality and easy online payments is transforming mobile devices into one-stop shops for social consumer interactions.

But despite this social media evolution, can the same be said for corporate executives? Have they grasped this ‘new world’ or are they struggling to see the value of having a professional social strategy aligned to business goals?

A 2015 Nielson study for Twitter found 78 per cent of Australian executives use the platform at least once a day. It’s a surprising figure, according to Notable Media head Amanda Gome.

Gome says some executives are concerned about what their social media activity might mean for their company or business and particularly what risk, if any, it will pose. But it’s the risk of not being on social media that is the most concerning, she says.

Lack of engagement on social media should come as a warning to executives and CEOs, according to the Brandfog survey. More than two-thirds of respondents to the survey said CEOs who do not engage on social channels will become less relevant in the digital age, up from 48 per cent.

“When it comes to executives, they need to be present on social, otherwise it’s a wasted opportunity and they’re missing the point of the new social world,” Gome says.

“We can’t afford not to have social executives. They can help mitigate risk, service customers, and get a feel for what audiences are saying online about their business or area of expertise.

“Executives need to build connections with customers, staff and investors on social media, as well as offline. There’s just no way out now”.


When it comes to engaging a workforce, social media is vital. Gome says socially engaged executives make for a more collaborative and inclusive culture.

“Your employees will be more engaged with what you’re saying on social and they’ll understand that you get the new social world,” she says.

Plus, employees value it. In fact, 78 per cent of professionals would prefer to work for a company whose leadership is active on social media.


As the power of social media crosses path with the power of search engines, Tweets from your own account now appear organically in search results and your LinkedIn profile is likely to one of the first results when you Google your name.

The power good social search-engine optimisation can do for your personal brand and visibility cannot be discounted. It’s imperative that your digital profile is up to date. And relevant.

A good social executive is an engaged social executive and whether you’re a seasoned professional or beginner, here are some basic tips to help you on your social journey.

• Be authentic

Try and write your own posts. Informality is the new normal; don’t be too concerned with making the ‘perfect post’. Share something that interests you or that your audience will find valuable.

• Find the time

Taking five minutes in the morning, lunch or at night is a great way to get in to a social media routine. Even if you don’t post anything, listen to the conversations happening online.

• Get creative

Post something shareable. A photo, video, GIF, poll or exciting announcement is more likely to be engaged with rather than a stand-alone post.

• Understand why you’re on social media in the first place

Come up with a professional social strategy and align it with your business goals and that of your company. It’s important to recognise your area of expertise by sharing thought-leading content online.

Darren Sibson is a contributing editor at BlueNotes. 

Illustration: Chris Kelly - Corporate caricatures & illustrations.

Amanda Gome was formerly ANZ head of social media

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

editor's picks