Katrina Klier
Global Managing Director, Chief Digital Officer

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn. It has been edited slightly here for a CMO audience. 

According to Brandfog, in the US 80% of survey respondents said active engagement in social media enhances the image and reputation of c-suite executives as forward-thinking, trend setting leaders. In the same research, 77% of respondents agreed that social media was a powerful tool to build thought leadership and c-suite credibility with stakeholders including the press and media.

This data all makes sense when you consider over 52% of online adults regularly use 2 or more social media channels and fully half of college-educated online adults are on LinkedIn per Pew Research. And, Americans tend to follow news on 4 different devices or channels. The devices of choice are laptops at 69%, mobile phones at 55% and tablets at about 28% as noted by the American Press Institute.

As an executive who no doubt values the brand of your company, you are doing yourself and your company a disservice if you do not actively create and manage your digital presence. Your career and indeed your company’s future depend on it. While your marketing and PR teams can help, authentic engagement done yourself is the most powerful differentiator you can have in the digital ecosystem.

The good news is that this is really easy to do. As an executive you should at a minimum have well-done and active profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter. Beyond that, depending on your business, you may go to Instagram, guest blog posts, LinkedIn posts, Tumblr, Pinterest or any number of other sites whose followers mirror your customers and key influencers. You should also actively curate your PR presence to include significant mention in digital publications whether the digital version of traditionally print publications (such as the WSJ or NYT) or fully digital journals such as the Huffington Post or any number of trade news sites. Make sure your PR team has top-notch digital and social media skills so your placements and mentions have deliberate digital weighting.

As for the content you share on these channels, similar to a solid PR strategy for any executive, you should pick 3 pillars of focus. Only do 3 so your message has some cohesion and you become increasingly known for these 3 areas. Choose your 3 as follows:

  1. Key topic for your industry – If you’re the CMO of an oil company, then a particular trend or overall momentum of the oil industry is a good place to start. You may want to pivot on a trend connected to the evolving role of a CMO such as the changing customer communication needs in the energy industry.
  2. Differentiation topic for your company – Keeping with the oil company CMO example, let’s say your company is investing significant time and resources to minimize the company’s impact on the environment. Talking about the technologies and processes that let your company do this along with general innovation in this area could be your differentiation theme. Another may be investment in alternative fuels or partnerships and industry groups that collectively make energy more efficient.
  3. Theme or topic that has personal significance to you – Still as that oil company CMO, perhaps creating the next generation of leading edge engineers is a passion of yours or maybe mentoring kids is something close to your heart. Whatever it is, this is the theme that will humanize your voice and presence in the digital ecosystem. If you skip this third pillar, you risk looking like you outsourced your whole digital presence to your PR team or some agency. You will loose the authenticity advantage and the negative blowback could be significant.

After you’ve chosen your 3 pillars, simply go about your business. As you read things, share them. Love that NYT article on green technology innovation? Well click on the share by Twitter icon and tweet it. Finished a keynote at a major event? Once your marketing team has the presentation and/or press about this posted on your website then share the content on LinkedIn and Twitter. Write a great guest post? Click share from the post to let you network know so they can read it as well.

All this takes actually very little time and the impact is significant as the long-term benefits for you, your company and your network are huge. As the Borenstein Group accurately stated “Personal is the new corporate”. I couldn’t agree more.

Good luck and I’ll see you online.