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Thought leader or company logo: Whom would you rather engage with on Twitter?

Sifting through Twitter, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of marketing materials. Webinar promotions, press releases and employee recruitment campaigns can easily clog a Twitter feed. Vendor logos and links clog the Twitter stream, but who are the people behind this self-promotional chatter?  People holding mobile phones at Twitter

While many of us in healthcare strive to increase engagement among patients and their providers, some forget the importance of authentic, one-on-one engagement when it comes to social media.

Executives are well-positioned to transform a company’s social media presence. They can put a face to the company name and add personality that the company handle lacks.

For many of us, ongoing maintenance of social media platforms, such as Twitter, is a daily effort. However, for executives, especially those who work in the B2B space, social media can feel like a foreign language that many are uninterested in learning.

A 2012 study found that only 7.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs used Twitter. However, a 2013 survey also found that 90 percent of executives would use social media more frequently “if it were helpful to their business,” while 80 percent would “if they thought it was a better use of their time.”

Need some convincing as to why it’s important that your company’s top executives get engaged on Twitter? Here are six business cases for a social media-savvy executive:

  • Engage with a “room” full of key business contacts. Whatever your industry is, chances are that there is already a community sharing information and opinions regarding relevant topics on a regular basis. Twitter provides a great opportunity to have ongoing conversations with the business contacts who matter.
  • Increase brand recognition. Executive status aside, content is eight times more frequently shared when posted by employees compared to the same content shared via the corporate brand page. A socially engaged C-suite has the potential to aid brand awareness by making the engagement more personal.
  • Find talent! Twitter can be a great recruitment tool for all aspects of a given business. Developers and marketing folk alike use Twitter to build personal brands and get involved in industry communities. You might be surprised how a simple Twitter connection could lead to finding a long-lasting employee.
  • Learn from competitors and customers alike. You don’t have to publicly follow your competitors to see what’s working for them and what’s not working for them on Twitter. Given that a majority of Twitter activity is public, you can easily compare your own social media team against engagement occurring among competitors. On the other side of the coin, Twitter provides a great opportunity to engage with customers.
  • Improve employee engagement and morale. As executives don’t often get a lot of face-time with junior staff, Twitter provides an opportunity for employees to get to know them on a deeper level. A socially engaged executive can also build morale and excitement surrounding the company, encouraging employees to tweet about the company and its culture.
  • Speak with those who influence the key buyers in your space – the media! It’s no secret that the media is very active on Twitter. Not only are they sharing industry news but they’re actively engaged, asking questions and regularly looking for sources. Executives on Twitter are at an advantage when engaging with the media on Twitter as they are often the sources that journalists are looking for.  A 2013 MSLGROUP survey found that a whopping 95 percent of healthcare IT reporters use Twitter to follow companies and news, opening the door for executives to get involved.

Despite the business potential, busy executives may still resist jumping into Tweeting. In my next blog, I will discuss how to turn this seemingly far-fetched concept into an exciting reality with a series of strategies that can simplify the process of getting executives involved with Twitter. Although there might be challenges with getting high-level staff engaged and excited about social media, the benefits of engaging outweigh the negatives.

In 2014 and beyond, MSLGROUP looks forward to working with our clients to encourage company executives to get involved in social media and truly feel comfortable expanding a digital footprint. Although it can be daunting at first, executive thought leaders can become an imperative aspect of a company’s social media strategy.

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Jordon Goulder

Jordon Goulder

Jordon Goulder is an Account Executive within MSLGROUP’s healthcare/health IT practice in San Francisco. Jordon has a strong interest in social media and healthcare innovation.

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