The Social CEO: Executives Are Using Social Media To Transform Firms

Social Media


A newly released study shows that Social CEOs can enhance the reputation of their firms, attract talent and increase sales . To learn more, I spoke with Amy McIlwain, Global Industry Principal, Hootsuite. Amy is an author, speaker, social media veteran and enthusiastic world traveler. This is an edited version of our conversation over the phone and email.

Joanna: Tell us about your recent travels that you’ve shared on Snap, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Amy: I traveled around the world to discuss research that Hootsuite conducted with LinkedIn. We explored how the use of social media by senior executives within Financial Services impacts employee engagement and company revenue. We found that there’s a 40% increase in employee engagement as a direct correlation to CEO or executive engagement. We learned that when sales teams are engaged on social media, they’re 50% more likely to achieve sales quota . That directly impacts revenues. We also discovered that companies with social executives, or Social CEOs, have better overall brand perception in the marketplace. These Social CEOs attract talent and drive sales. Although the study was specifically done for Australia, there are key learnings that can be applied globally and to all industries, not just financial services.

Joanna: Do you have any examples of how Social CEOs might start using social media?

Amy: Here’s a story. When a Fortune 500 CEO was promoted into his new role, he was told, “Congratulations, you’re now feared and revered”. When he heard that, he thought “I don’t want to be feared. I want to find a way to change this mindset and be more relatable and connect more deeply with my employees and peers.” After defining his goals and brand, he started using social media. He engages on LinkedIn Influencer and is very active on Twitter. He alone has access to his Twitter account because it is his voice. Part of his brand is that he’s an avid road biker and when he races, he shares photos. That’s makes him relatable and human.

Joanna: Has he seen a difference in how people perceive him?

Amy: Absolutely. People are now taking selfies with him when he visits the office. They’re very happy and approach him, ask him about his bike trips. It’s helping attract talent and helping keep employees more engaged. We’ve learned that when employees are engaged on social media they’re typically more satisfied in their job and there’s less turnover.