For company leaders, establishing a credible personal brand in the social arena is essential. Your position of leadership comes with responsibility, and sharing your knowledge moves your industry and community forward. When used properly, social media truly amplifies your efforts and gets others involved.
As a leader, you need to use your position as a platform to share your opinions and insights. Be aware of the social chatter relevant to your industry and participate in these conversations—whether that’s by writing blogs, creating videos, or speaking on podcasts.
Leaders usually sit on industry or trade-focused boards and forward agendas that benefit their community. To know what your community wants, you need to be involved in the many conversations that are happening.
It’s also important to share your wisdom and genuinely connect with your community. This activity will fortify your personal brand. It’s about finding time to be active, not only in generating content that expresses your beliefs, but to participate in the dialogue that occurs once your words are published.
Here are three excellent examples of leaders participating in their industry’s conversation.
Randy MacEwen - MacEwen is the CEO of Ballard Power Systems, the world leader in zero-emission fuel cell technology. He understands his role and responsibilities in representing his industry and connecting with a wider audience. Randy participates in blogs that are published on the Ballard website regularly and often personally responds to the blog comments. He chooses his words carefully, whether they be of encouragement to further conversations with the “converted” or to better understand an opponent’s position. He’s authentic and committed to share his passions for fuel cell technology. He’s also active on social media and has cultivated a well-respected voice in his growing industry.
Jeff Hartley - Another CEO who’s figured it out. Hartley is at the helm of Leaseplan Canada, a company that provides funding and the operational tools to help organizations finance and manage fleet vehicles. He’s certainly earned the respect of his peers, but is now establishing his voice as a spokesperson for his industry. He blogs regularly and is active on LinkedIn. Whether it’s sharing stories and opinions of industry developments or posting company activities, his efforts are paying dividends for the Company. His actions have also attracted other business leaders and influential politicians to connect with him in order to garner his perspective on trends and where the mobility sector is headed. Cool huh?
Merran Smith - As the executive director at Clean Energy Canada, Smith knows the importance of engaging people on the subject. Her social media is filled with updates about what is happening in the clean energy sector all around Canada from political pledges to business strategy and everything in between. She writes op-eds for newspapers and pushes them through her social accounts to generate further discussion. Those in the Canadian clean energy space know that if they want to stay updated on current events, she’s one to follow.
In reviewing what Merran, Randy, and Jeff are doing, I have discovered common traits that make their efforts successful.
- They know their role in their industry.
Randy, Jeff, and Merran post information relevant to their industry. They are not everything to everyone. Their efforts are directed at a defined audience. Something all successful people have figured out. The more specific your expertise, the more meaningful your opinion. Ask yourself, “What do I do better than anybody else? What do I see that others don’t? What can you write about that will add genuine value to my audience?” It’s not about persuading. It’s about authenticity and expressing your opinion while leaving yourself open to criticism and engagement.
- Generate unique and meaningful content.
Don’t be shy to share your opinion. It’s not always about retweeting someone else's story (which is important to do), you need to be thoughtful and share your perceptions and wisdom with others. Again, people are looking for authentic and accurate information. This means that you will need to sit down and assemble your thoughts into a cohesive message. One blog, one message. Be meaningful with words. If you need assistance putting it all together, there are professional writers to help you represent yourself properly. Use them. They smooth language and include “action language” to better express your opinions.
- Connect with others in your space.
You are not alone. Others, very specific people, have the same interests in the subject matter of which you are the expert. There are online trade forums in which you can browse to discover others who share similar interests and perspectives. They have a voice and an established network. By connecting with them, you can further amplify your thoughts into their community. In the process you build influence and extend the reach of your unique message.
- The medium is the message. Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase in 1964 (yes ‘64) and, somehow, it is more appropriate today than ever. There are tons of social media channels in which to wage your influence. By selecting the right channel you will connect with those in your world who matter. Here’s a great chart to help you decide what’s best for you:
Being active on social media is becoming more important for business leaders than ever before. Whether you are a industry-seasoned veteran with little social media skills, or a highly savvy social media expert with limited industry experience you need to share your opinions and interactions with each other to remain part of an industry’s innovations and advancements.
Principal & Marketing Strategist A results-driven creative thinker, Perry is a marketing management professional with a proven record of achievement in Strategic Planning, Team Leadership, and New Concepts Development.