Not long ago, CEOs — especially those at the helms of financial organizations — were perceived as inhabitants of lofty ivory towers, where their importance and superiority kept them isolated and safe from the investing public. And for centuries, the masses accepted it. Then the internet came along and changed everything.
Now, before deciding to buy from, do business with or work for a financial or insurance company, consumers and advisors expect to make authentic, real-time connections with these brands. A luxury ushered in by the social media revolution, this practice has become so commonplace that many take it for granted. For these reasons and more, investment or insurance company leaders (not to mention advisors) who hope to connect with investors are quickly discovering that actively engaging on social media is not only necessary, but extremely beneficial to the bottom line.
Consider these stats from TheSocialCEO.org:
- Three in four American consumers say social media influences their buying decisions.
- A whopping 80% of consumers are more likely to trust a company with a CEO who is active on social media.
- 78% of employees would rather work for an organization helmed by a CEO who leverages social media.
Yet despite such obvious advantages of becoming a social CEO, 61% of Fortune 500 chief executives have absolutely no social media presence. This would suggest that while almost everyone else — including President Obama, leader of the free world, and Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church — grasps the value of social media, the heads of most Fortune 500 companies remain either unwilling or unsure about engaging with their audience online.
While social media isn’t without its risks, CEOs who embrace it usually find that the numerous business benefits far outweigh any potential, and easily mitigated risks.
Here’s how a company can benefit from having a CEO who understands and is active on social media.
1. It can humanize the organization and build trust. We may live in an increasingly digital world, but people still want to see a face — not to mention a personality — behind the brands they do business with. In fact, 80% of consumers are not only more likely to trust a company whose chief executive officer participates in social media, but they’re also more likely to make a purchase from these companies. It’s no surprise that the most recognized brands are led by equally well-known CEOs—think Microsoft and Gates, Facebook and Zuckerberg, Virgin and Branson.
These leaders understand the influence their authority and credibility afford them. After all, who better to communicate an organization’s values and beliefs than its leader? CEOs can also use social media to:
- Reassure the public that there’s someone real at the top who has their best interests in mind.
- Engender trust while enhancing brand credibility, authority and likeability.
- Inspire much-needed transparency surrounding goals, decisions, initiatives, financial stability, direction, etc., all of which are particularly crucial in the investment and insurance industries.
- Reinforce the organization’s reputation for innovation and responsiveness.
- Influence consumers to do business with them and top advisors to work with them.
- Demonstrate an understanding of stakeholder needs and concerns.
- Make themselves accessible by participating in conversations and soliciting feedback.
In the investment and insurance space, one CEO does a particularly good job of humanizing his organization: TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey (@TimHockey). With an active Twitter account and a LinkedIn presence, Hockey’s witty humor reveals his personality and makes him relatable to employees and investors alike. He posts a variety of content that demonstrates his own leadership beliefs as well as TD Ameritrade’s value proposition. Overtly accessible, Hockey eagerly engages with employees and customers who are only too happy to share pictures and anecdotes with him.