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The Social Life of an Executive

Nov. 2, 2020
There is a role for business leaders on social media platforms: Be authentic, be responsible, and build the brand.

Social media is ubiquitous, and that makes it valuable for executives building and maintaining a brand. But to do that, executives have to be fluent in the language of the social platform and coordinated with their brand focus.

Social media is also dangerous, because everyone “does” social media, unfortunately, some executives underestimate its influence. Thinking of it as something used by kids or not understanding the specific etiquette of a given platform is a grave misstep, though it's easy to correct.

As the leader of a company, understand that the spotlight and expectations are different when you — the business owner or its CEO — use social media. Social media platforms allow for unprecedented access for you and your thoughts, all of which reflects on the brand.

Recognize that business use of social media is different than what your kids do, and must be treated differently. If you are an executive with a communications expert on staff (digital specialist, PR person, marketing manager, communications manager), ask for advice — and listen to it. They have the experience and education to understand how communications and business intersect (in a way your kids do not) because digital strategy isn’t all about likes and followers. It’s about authenticity, brand building, and storytelling.

Optimally, the company communications team will offer basic staff training on how to use platforms and company preferences, as well as regularly train employees on current best practices for each platform (e.g., changes in algorithm impact, how actions like sharing and liking an item impact engagement,) Today, no one would train how to answer a business phone, but in the 1950s staff would be trained on the etiquette and mechanics of using the phone. Social media has been active for over 20 years, but platforms and usage have shifted and training may be required.

If your company is too small to have a communication team, or your communication team is  focused on things other rather than training, there is plenty of online training about business social media use and even options for social media company policies. Beyond these, keep in mind a few guidelines that will help a busy executive build brand equity for the company.

Remember that you are a person, not your company. Behave like a person. Speak like a person.

Have a header or bio that references your business.

Use your company’s proper “handle” when referencing it, not an abbreviation that can’t be tracked by your team or may not be known to followers.

Focus on people, not just business: Highlight your employees and their accomplishments and/or your customers and their accomplishments (being sure to use customers’ proper “handles” so they catch the notification.)

It's okay to "like" company posts, but liking your own posts is odd.

Set your personal boundaries are about interacting online, and stick to them. (E.g., if you want to "like" posts about employees or customers, like all of them, not just some.)

Be platform-specific with your posts. Know how to use handles and hashtags on each platform (they don’t all function the same) and the basics of how each algorithm works. If you're comfortable with only one platform, it’s fine to stick with it.

Think about tone and content of posts from customers' and prospects' points of view, rather than yours as an executive. For example, complimenting someone's post by calling him a good customer of yours is of very little value for your customer.

Leave paid and boosted posts to staff who have communication plans for the brand.

Think twice about casually dropping business announcements before discussing with your communications staff.

The social media statements of an executive can drop stock prices, blow a deal before it’s closed, or initiate legal action. Alternatively, an executive who regularly interacts with clients and employees on social media can be a beacon of brand values for the company and raise the its brand profile. The best advice for executives is to think about the light you want to shine on your company with social media before posting.

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Manager at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit

About the Author

Alexandria Trusov | Global Marketing Director

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Director at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit