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How to Build an Effective Executive Social Media Presence

By Sarah Skerik, Last Modified
Jan 21, 2015
> Marketing

Cultivating an active, engaged and effective executive social media presence takes time and attention, which is why many senior executives are late to the social media game. However, as is the case with most endeavors, it’s easy to make time for activities that provide value. Here are some ways to get started that will deliver immediate value for the nascent social denizen, encouraging further engagement and interaction and laying the foundation for a successful foray into digital realms.

Related Article: How to Balance Your Personal and Professional Identity on Social Media

Listen: Start in “listen mode.” Before you even set up an account, browse for information related to your interests on a few different networks:

  • On Twitter, find and follow hashtags relating to timely conversations.
  • On Pinterest, see how enthusiasts are collecting and curating information.
  • On Instagram, observe how others in the business are living and sharing in the moment.

Pick the most interesting of the network you’re browsing and set up an account. Remaining in
listen mode, start following the interesting accounts you find. Observe how brands in your space are interacting. Notice which sort of people are sharing the information and ideas you find interesting.

Next, find and follow peers and prominent figures within your area of interest. If Twitter is your network of choice, build lists to keep track of different topics or groups of people. Experiment with the network and explore how to tag and categorize information – some use hashtags, others allow you to build channels and lists to organize information you find. As you start to follow more people, hashtags and topics, look at using tools such as Flipboard or to aggregate content and render it in more visually compelling formats.

Share: Sharing content is the primary interaction amongst people on social networks. Influentials become (in effect) editors, conveying their recommendations to droves of followers. Developing good curation skills is the first step in gaining this sort of influence. When you come across interesting information related to the topics and people you’re following, go ahead and share it via your own channels. Important note: Make a point of sharing copious third-party information. People who limit sharing to their own content or that published by their brand don’t offer much value to others, and as a result, they tend not to develop effective and useful social presences. Stick to the 80/20 rule: 80% of the information you share should be from third parties. Twenty percent can come from the brand you represent.

Related Article: Social Media for Small Business: It's Not All "Likes"

Downloading a browser extension makes sharing content easier. Using a social media dashboard to organize your interactions and sharing is another way to streamline social account management when it becomes too much to handle efficiently within individual accounts

Interact: Now that you’ve spent some time listening and observing how people interact on your selected social network, it’s time to put those lessons into action. Mirroring cues you’ve picked up from peers, start interacting with others. A good rule of thumb to follow: add value with your interactions.

Measure: Measure progress in the quality of the information you gather, the connections you make and the conversations you have – not in the number of followers you accrue. Ultimately,
as your presence grows, your dexterity with social media will also develop, and you’ll develop an audience that becomes more than a professional network or source of information – it will become an invaluable personal asset and important competency that will add an important dimension to your credentials.

Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik
See Sarah Skerik's Profile
Sarah Skerik is a 20-year PR and marketing veteran and recognized thought leader with specific experience in public relations, social media marketing, content marketing and demand-gen that together inform her approach to marketing and communications. An advocate of developing brand authority through earned media and social proof, she believes in tightly integrating the marketing stack to capture efficiencies, deliver long-lasting benefits to the enterprise and improve top line results. A B2B specialist with a niche focus in marketing to marketers, Sarah’s most recent role was vice president of strategic communications for PR Newswire, where she oversaw public relations, branding and content marketing. A frequent and well-received speaker, Sarah has appeared at Content Marketing World, PRSA International Conference, Ragan Communications’ Content Marketing Summit and a host of private workshops, webinars and conferences. She has authored three ebooks and is a frequent contributor to a host of marketing and PR websites. A graduate of Miami University in Oxford OH, Sarah also earned an MBA with honors from Notre Dame.
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