Today’s top performing leaders are social leaders, says Sean Coulton.

Around the world and across industries, top executives who were once convinced that social media wasn’t worth their time, now consider their participation in these networks as essential to their role.

As a result, more and more top executives see the benefits of being open and transparent and take part in the social revolution. Richard Branson of Virgin, Mike Smith of ANZ, and CEO of Nike, Mike Parker, are all massive advocates of being a social leader to achieve success.

This is clearly supported by data. At socially-engaged companies:

  • Employees are 57 per cent more likely to leverage social media to drive sales
  • They are 40 per cent more likely to appear more competitive in their market
  • They are 58 per cent more likely to attract talent

Becoming a social CEO can open up a whole world of opportunity. Your company is likely to enjoy higher levels of trust and people will be more likely to purchase from you.

It will elevate your reputation and brand and, by doing so, help enhance your company’s reputation, build your customer base, find the best employees and ultimately grow your business.

Between two-thirds and three-quarters of global employees believe that a company whose senior executives use social media to communicate is more trustworthy. They also believe CEO participation in social media can build better connections with customers, staff and investors.

In this article we’ll look at the benefits companies like yours are already getting from social platforms such as LinkedIn, and how – with access to a network of 433+ members and growing – you can enjoy the same advantages yourself.

Companies across the world are using social media as a primary channel for marketing, and it has now become one of the highest sources of leads. Forty-three per cent of marketers generated leads from LinkedIn in 2016 and 82 per cent find social a key source of lead generation. And once the lead has become an opportunity, social sales professionals find they are 51 per cent more likely to achieve their quota.

LinkedIn generated a staggering 64 per cent of all visits from social media channels to corporate websites. All other social networks each accounted for less than 20 per cent of visits. It’s clear that LinkedIn is the best way to reach the audiences interested in your company. And it’s not just about Gen Y or new graduates looking to build their network. Senior executives and business leaders are going social in droves.

So just how can social media help grow your business?

From networking and recruiting to lead generation and closing business deals, there are several ways in which social platforms like LinkedIn can propel your performance and grow your business.

Sourcing and recruiting highly skilled talent is a top priority for businesses. But with a global shortage of in-demand skills, the competition is fierce. To resolve this, businesses are increasingly using social platforms to recruit the best talent. Social networks are the fastestgrowing source of quality hires, accounting for more than 37 per cent in 2016. They also present a huge database of passive candidates – those who would be interested in a new opportunity but aren’t actively seeking. By leveraging professional social networks you can engage top talent and stay ahead of the competition.

You don’t need to be one of the world’s largest companies to do this – social platforms like LinkedIn level the playing field. They’re affordable, accessible and effective.

Being a social CEO puts you back in the driver’s seat, helping you influence your business brand and grow your network. To do this, your own profile is critical. Two-thirds of people say their perception of the CEO affects their opinion of a company and its products.

Here are the five key ways to stand out from the crowd:

  1. For a killer profile, include a professional photo of yourself and showcase your work through rich media.
  2. Write a personal tagline – this is your brand. Borrow from the best marketers and light up your profile with your own voice.
  3. Put your elevator pitch to work in your summary section. Highlight your skills and explain your experience: what your company does and what you do for them.
  4. Point out your skills and experience. Consider the ‘specialties’ field as your personal search-engine optimiser – a way to refine the ways people find and remember you.
  5. Distinguish yourself from the crowd and present a more human face by listing your interests and passions.

The number one thing people do on LinkedIn is view others profiles. Good profiles are critical; you and your employees are your best branding asset.

What’s next? Time to get social! Start by adding connections and interacting with other users. Whenever you meet new people at conferences, search for and add them on LinkedIn. Use the LinkedIn connected function under My Network in the app to make this easier.

Share your great content. If you’ve recently done a presentation, put it in SlideShare and promote it to your LinkedIn networks. Write blogs and share them as updates. Post videos. Comment on and re-share other people’s content and updates. Remember that it’s not just a sales pitch – your own promotional content should represent no more than 10 per cent of what you share. Remember that social media is a two-way conversation, so speak and listen. Ask and answer questions.

Social media is a valuable and cost-effective investment, and it doesn’t need to be time-consuming. Just 10 minutes a day engaging with your network will really drive your social momentum.

Becoming a social CEO is about evolving – not restructuring your business, but just getting active. Fifty-nine per cent of global consumers said their opinions about companies are influenced by what company executives communicate!

Once you’re up and running, LinkedIn will be a great fit and a highly valuable tool for your business, whether for networking, sales and marketing, or recruitment and it’s FREE!

A successful business needs a strong leader who is visible and clearly engaged. Becoming a social CEO is a key way to do this.