In what is quickly emerging as a new trend in social media strategies for brands, business leaders are establishing an online presence and using that to the advantage of the businesses they represent. Just about every CEO today has a personal but strategic social media account where they engage the public and their clients at a personal level about matters pertinent to the brands they represent or even a sneak peek into their private lives and how they maintain an impressive work-life balance. Business leaders are turning out to be the greatest brand evangelists. It is therefore important to understand what personal branding is and why is it important for business leaders to have a personal brand on social media.
Why build a personal brand on social media?
Personal branding on social media is about shaping the public perception of you as a brand by having a consistent voice, personality and biography on the various platforms. It involves defining the themes and personal values you stand for by initiating conversations and sharing content around these themes and values. Just like corporate branding, personal branding on social media is a representation of who you are on an individual level and therefore there should be no mismatch between your online persona and your real life persona. For business leaders, it is important to realize the subtle correlation between the company’s brands and their personal brand on social media.
The basic goal of having an online personal brand is to be known. Firstly, as a business leader, you need to have a recognizable online presence. Secondly, define your area of expertise as part of defining why you and your company exists. This can be done by referring back to what your company does by sharing content from the official company page to your personal page and continuing the conversation there on a personal level. With a personal brand on social media, you become the number one brand ambassador for your company.
In addition to giving business leaders an opportunity to endorse their brands, a well thought out online personal brand brings out the leader as an authority in their area of expertise and therefore builds trust around the product or service their business offers. If for instance, your company deals in investments, you should be the ‘go-to’ person on matters investments on your select social media platforms. If you run a law firm, you should drop nuggets of legal advice or even share informative articles from time to time when engaging your followers. A business leader who builds trust by demonstrating thorough mastery of their business on their social media platforms has more impact than any kind of advertising.
Leads generation and sales
Personal branding on social media is a great way for business leaders to increase leads for their businesses by humanizing the brand. According to MSLGroup, a global public relations firm, 77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media. This is because people buy from people and not from brands. The one on one engagement with a business leader on their personal social media accounts has a personal appeal to followers that is quite different from the dissociation that is usually felt by followers when engaging on company accounts. This appeal is more likely to result in leads that eventually convert to sales. Due to the trust built, a well-established personal brand on social media also decreases the time it takes for you to close a deal for your business hence optimizing the sales cycle.
Connecting with influencers
Influencer marketing is the new age version of celebrity endorsement for brands. A social media influencer is basically anyone who has amassed a massive following on social media and is thus able to initiate and drive the conversation, generally shape public opinion concerning a topic, brand, event etc. Brands usually hire strategic influencers to create hype around their products as a way of increasing leads and sales. Influencers will however only want to work with people with a well-established personal brand. A business leader with a well-built personal brand on social media with enough followers is better placed to work with influencers to promote both the personal and the institutional brand.
As the pressure increases on firms to engage more in corporate social responsibility projects, an online personal brand for a business leader provides a crucial way to not only showcase what they have done for the community but also to raise awareness and address emerging issues as an authority in their field. With a proper personal brand, they will also be in a better position to mobilize influencers, people, and resources towards a cause beneficial to the community.
Growing an online fanbase
Whereas advancing the brand should always be at the forefront of a business leader’s priorities, all work and no play becomes a hard sell. Social media, therefore, presents an opportunity for the business leaders to genuinely connect with their fans and share in their private fun moments. Whether taking a vacation to the solemn shores of Lake Kivu, or throwing a party for the daughter who made you proud...personal moments of fun present an unguarded side for your fanbase that generates conversation around your personality and ultimately, the brand.
And of course, don’t forget to share a few tips on how to succeed as an individual or an entrepreneur. Inspirational tidbits from successful business leaders reflect positively on the business. Remember, it is never always about selling, the brand is what remains after all the marketing efforts are exhausted. And nothing sticks more than a genuine connection with your audience.
Point to note
Even as the use of social media continues to be an integral part of companies’ corporate branding strategies, business leaders should be aware of the kind of image their personal brand projects and whether it reflects the culture and values of the companies they represent. Extra care should be taken to avoid being emotive when addressing issues on the various platforms as their followers are keenly aware of whom they are engaging even if not expressly stated on their profiles. If not carefully managed, a business leader’s reputation on social media could be counterproductive and damaging to his/her company’s brand perception and reputation.