by Charlotte Trueman

How CIOs can create a personal brand on social media

May 30, 2019
IT Leadership

For today’s CIOs, the job encompasses so much more than setting and overseeing an IT strategy. From helping to facilitate business growth to creating a digital vision, the responsibilities are multiplying and it’s important to remember that, as your company becomes more visible, so does your public profile.

The behaviour displayed by members of a C-suite executive team can have a significant impact on the public perception of your business, with companies like Uber and HP famously removing their CEOs in an attempt to limit any long-term reputational damage.

However, it’s not just bad behaviour customers take note of. Executives that are seen to be socially aware or particularly well behaved can also help to boost the reputation of a business for the better.

In an era where the majority of our lives are lived online, developing a well-rounded personal brand on social media is a must for anyone with significant influence or who is regularly in the public eye. Unfortunately, for those who made a name for themselves before the birth of Twitter, this isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds.

While there a number of different elements that add up to a personal brand, the proliferation of social media over recent years means it is now the easiest and quickest way to develop a reputation. Below, we look at the role social media has to play in today’s business landscape and how you can use it to your advantage in the development of your own personal brand.

What role does social media play in developing brand identity?

Today, almost every company has a strong presence on social media. Be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok, if customers are using it, so too will businesses. There have even been instances of companies setting up Tinder accounts in order to ambush unsuspecting singletons with corporate branding.

It goes without saying that the way your business accounts interact with customers on social media can make or break your reputation. In 2018, 54% of users claimed to have used social media to research products, 36% followed a brand on social media and 19% have asked a company a question via social media.

Furthermore, 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family. It’s a well-known cliché that the customer is king and, by facilitating positive interactions with your customers on social media, it will help your business to build positive relationships and cement your reputation.

While you’re unlikely to have the same number of followers or be asked the same amount of questions as your company’s social media accounts, it’s important to remember that whatever you post will be seen by the public and used to form a judgement of you as an individual – no pressure!

Having at least one personal social media account that you keep active helps to show you have an awareness of how the modern-day consumer interacts online. It can also allow you to build a more intimate relationship with your customers, proving that there is a human side to your organisation.

What you should (and shouldn’t) be posting where

In the corporate world, the three biggest social media platforms are undoubtedly Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Each one has its own USPs and, as a result, whichever you decide to sign up to will ultimately dictate what you post.

Facebook is probably the least well suited for building as personal brand. Setting up a page for people to ‘Like’ could be viewed as somewhat egotistical however, a personal Facebook account is typically used to keep up to date with family and friends, not your customer base.

Twitter and LinkedIn both allow you to reach out to and connect with a greater number of people, whilst still keeping your personal life as private as you choose.

On Twitter, everything from your chosen handle, your cover image and your bio can be carefully tailored to support the personal brand you’re trying to build for yourself. The platform’s 280-character limit allows you be more selective with your messaging, sharing updates that relate to both your work and personal life in a more informal manner.

Has your company got a new product coming out? You can tweet about how #excited you are about it. Done something philanthropic in your spare time? Maybe share a photo, @replying the charity. Got an opinion about politics? Perhaps you should keep that one to yourself.

LinkedIn is a social media site that was designed specifically for working professionals to interact via. While connecting with other users requires Facebook-esque consent, it’s a lot easier for individuals to quickly build up a large following with whom they can share updates, articles, pictures, professional achievements and events specifically relating to their working life.

Although LinkedIn probably isn’t the platform to let others know how much you like a certain sports team, it does allow you to build a comprehensive picture of what you’re like as an individual employee, rather than simply a representative of the brand you work for.

The golden rules of social media

Whichever platform you decide to go for, there’s a number of best practices that can be applied across the board.

Firstly, make sure you’re following the right people. Although social media is a good way to stay in touch with friends and family, it also allows you to keep an eye on what your peers and competitors are doing. On all social media platforms, you have the freedom to curate a timeline that reflects your interests and allows you to access real-time updates that are both relevant and interesting.

Secondly, engage. There’s no point joining a social media community if you’re not going to actively engage. Use relevant hashtags to make your posts easily searchable and to help demonstrate your interest in a subject. Reply (politely) to any messages you receive and share posts you find interesting. There’s no point setting up an account if you’re only going to log in every six months.

Finally, social media is great for keeping on top of the latest updates from your industry but sometimes, it’s necessary to take that online information offline to help spread your message. By attending events and networking with your peers, you can help to build your online following in the real world. Just make sure you put any social media handles on your business cards!

Ultimately, building a personal brand is all about setting yourself apart from your competitors and creating an individualised digital footprint to help bridge the gap between your customers and your company. By treading the line between the personal and professional, you can boost your business credentials whilst proving you are human after all.