Having a strong online professional reputation today is more important now than ever.
Thanks to the explosion of social media and websites that rank and rate CEOs as leaders, it is not just a checklist item, but a priority for any executive to have a strong and well-maintained online personal brand.
Your credibility as a leader is at stake when prospects, the media, competitors, stockholders, and colleagues cannot find you online. Further, if you are then found online and what is found is outdated, incomplete, negative, or inconsistent, then you as the leader are at risk of being viewed as a poor leader. This is like having bad press, and no leader or company can afford bad press in a world now driven by consumer perception and opinion.
Just think about CEOs that have failed to invest in strong online brands and others that have succeeded. In 2012 a blog post published by IT company (NET)net reported that Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer had a “paltry 46% internal approval rating with his own employees. Compared to his competitor, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, who had a 97% approval rating “it’s a wonder how he remains the CEO.” In that year, Microsoft missed major market opportunities in related profitability in search and online advertising, smartphones, tablets, social networking, mobile music, and e-readers, while others like Apple and Google took the lead.
According to CEO.com’s 2013 Social CEO report, only 32% of top CEOs had at least one account on a social network. Some 68% had no social presence at all. CEOs like Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg have a significant social media presence, and it’s no surprised that they are more successful, boasting 97% employee approval ratings on Glassdoor.com.
When your employees love you online, you can guess that as an employer you will be provided more awards and top talent will be more driven to you than your competitors. When you amass loyal social followers and engage with them appropriately, your fans and your customers become your best marketers.
The mentions, comments, and shares you receive as a leader all support social signaling for SEO on the major search engines like Google, BING, and Yahoo. This will provide your company with a better chance at gaining a higher search engine optimization rank around your CEO and company names, leading to more leads and online sales.
Here are three ways you can help brand yourself like Mark Zuckerberg:
This is your individual market position, which you will then need to commit to as your company leader. Your position must include these elements:
- Your overall statement of how you are different, yet better than your competitive CEO. What sets you apart? If you were to interview yourself, what would you honestly tell yourself about your top strengths and why you have earned the right to lead your company?
- Your own personal mission statement as a leader and for what the company will deliver to its customers.
Create a communication standard that you can commit to time and again and perfect as you commit. Your communication style is what you, innately, are great at in terms of driving influence and action as a leader.
To uncover this, you need to assess and ask those that follow you around you where you excel. It may be as a speaker, a panelist, a writer, an interviewee, an analytical thought leader, a visionary, or someone with strong opinions, ideas, and experience in their industry.
Choosing your style in relation to online personal brand development is critical before you invest any time and money in the process.
When defining your CEO image online, consider these elements:
- Your image should be in line with your corporate culture. Even if you run or are a part of a small business, the culture is important to developing a brand.
- Your personal brand image must suit the audience you are serving.
- Your smile, gestures, tone of voice and writing style need to be authentic to who you are and support your need to make your audience comfortable.
- A positive image and appearance is crucial to acceptance by the media. Don’t overdo it, though. It must be honest.
- You need to determine, based on your culture, where you do business and what type of business you are in. In industries such as banking, a powerful persona may be in order; whereas in a technology company, perhaps a more relaxed presence is more suitable.
It is never too early for you to start assessing and building a personal online brand. As noted, there is plenty of room for you to take the lead as others ignore the obvious importance of a social CEO brand.
Take it one step at a time and do it right. Before you know it, your CEO brand will be synonymous with a strong position, style, and image and earning positive social sentiment, ultimately leading to new business.
—Jasmine Sandler is a global keynote speaker, corporate trainer, author, and consultant in digital marketing and social selling for business-to-business professional services organizations. Sandler has more than 15 years of client experience in helping businesses drive positive online brand awareness, qualified lead generation, and sales.