How leaders can use social media to create an authentic voice

social media for start ups
leadership social media
Felipe Lodi

Many leaders can use social media to create an authentic voice. That’s because they are adept at using channels to communicate authentically and deliver messages quickly.

They know it can transform perceptions and really add a lot stakeholder relations. It can also improve employee engagement. These can be the remarkable results when a leader is a real pro and also has sound judgement.

On the other hand, social media can damage both the CEO’s and the business’ reputation. If a customer complains on Twitter or Facebook, an organization must respond quickly and appropriately, otherwise the results can be unpleasant and sometimes costly.

Recently we talked to Kristen Ruby about how leaders should be using social media. This time around, Felipe Lodi, a marketing strategist based in Dublin, Ireland, shares his expertise on how leaders should use social media.

We’re in an age where businesses have been dealing with criticisms and complaints on social media for a while. But a new force has arisen – that of President Trump and some other public figures attacking companies, mostly on Twitter. The situation is made worse by the number of supporters these figures have, who then jump on board and add their own vitriol. How should businesses prepare for this new and uncertain environment?
Social Media has brought us closer. Social Media cuts layers and flattens the world. Nowadays, we see company founders answering on Twitter to client inquiries, government representatives reading comments about their speeches on LinkedIn, and rock stars thanking their public on Facebook after their last gig.

Though being close to audiences is beneficial in understanding how people react to events, there are dangers in such exposure about which leaders should be aware.

Consumers now broadcast frustrations with a product or service and as such may diminish the reputation of a brand. So the new job of connected leaders is to act as their own public relations department and respond quickly, and also look for opportunities for feedback from customers.

When dissatisfaction is published publicly, they should control it themselves by using direct and authentic language online and treat mishaps as a chance for regaining the trust in their brands.

The damage caused and the outcome will be out there as part of the quality of information about a product or service, and consumers can now see how they may be treated if they ever buy from the brand.

Using social media to create an authentic voice

Many leaders are still uncomfortable with social media. So we end up with comms or marketing managing digital. This can work, but it can also impact the authenticity of the leader’s voice. For the leader who’s a social media neophyte, what first steps are necessary to becoming comfortable and confident with digital?
People are now used to finding out what specific value leaders add to the world. I like the problem-solving tagline approach that I can see on some leaders’ profiles. I believe everyone should have one instead of keyworded descriptions that don’t really work and sound a bit like bragging.

Building you own profile will help a leader discover what type of message they want their audiences to know. Social media newbies can start by getting used to one or two platforms at first. That can be achieved with the help of a professional, but I would advise against it for the sake of authenticity.

I also believe that brand consistency is a must. Even with little engagement, at least having a consistent online presence on one or two social channels is a good start.

People can now reach a decision maker online, glance their public pictures, and judge their recent comments. Whether leaders like it or not, the perception of privacy is long gone, and so if a leader is not online consumers and clients will wonder why.

With time, it’s natural to find what works, what is comfortable, what causes interest or a reaction, and the side-effects of public comments. With time, once disconnected leaders, realise the power of the new media, and that they can fine-tune their exposure to reach a determined goal.

Should leaders use PRs to help with their personal social media profiles?

Some organizations have strict policies about what information is published and who has permission to publish. So with early conversations about the CEO using Twitter or Facebook, there can be push-back. What can be done to manage these objections?
Connected leaders who see social media as an opportunity to get closer to their audience without the need of a bureaucratic public relations department know that investing in their own brand online is the formula to generate people’s attention.

And what happens when people feel passionate about something? They don’t forget, and they keep chasing that feeling. Digitally-savvy leaders who understand that will keep working on their calling and benefit from being close to people.

Leaders should have a continuous engagement with content by documenting early and accumulating often. Leaders should execute frequent communication with teams, clients and vendors in response to events.

Marketing and Public Relations departments may attempt to control such this kind of interraction, and for that reason, they should never exist as departments but as practices established by internal brand advocate programs.

When a significant problem arises and the CEO needs to step in, how should he or she be handling things on social media?
The personal intervention of leaders skips layers. Therefore, they should step in quickly. They should communicate with both reason and emotion and as authentically as possible so people will see this as real.

There are no other ways leaders can reach an audience with such candor, speed and effect. No other media can do that – only social media.

In my case, to employees and business associates, I make sure that I am the one who gives the good and the bad news so that the people I am communicating with can connect with my hopes and they know that I feel like I am on the front lines with them.

It’s surprising that many businesses still perceive social media as sales channels. How do you move clients towards a place where they see that digital is really all about relationships?
Using social media constantly as a direct sales channel is a mistake. There are times when special offers can be tweeted but the messaging must be much more conversational, and engaging with followers is important.

In my businesses, every time my team closes a new deal, I make sure to call my counterpart to let them know that I will be there for them.

Even though this first approach happens privately, I always take the opportunity to disclose online high-level information about the deal.

Increased engagement

To the leaders who won’t use social media, and who don’t believe it will increase their engagement with stakeholders, what do you say?
We’re living in times when consumers need to know and trust a brand before buying from it. They might already have the desire to buy a particular product or service based on an advertisement or content, which works to get them on their path to purchase.

However, more trust comes with a closer relationship, and with the use of social media leaders can improve their involvement with clients, employees, vendors and partners by being in direct contact with them.

Consumers can either gain or lose their confidence from any raw and authentic material produced by a leader: comments made as a response to an event, pictures that were taken from a behind-the-scenes launch, and videos expressing a particular opinion.

Uncensored engagement not only attracts new consumers but talent and partnerships that are aligned with an organization’s mission and vision.

The mere fact that a leader puts a profile up already generates trust. It shows approachability, and that the leader has nothing to hide, and that the leader is ready to talk.

Social media works as the perfect tool for all this. It benefits the leader and the brand behind it.

Who have been the biggest influences on you, your thinking, and your approach to your work?
There’s an Australian author that I like a lot called Daniel Priestley. Through his books I learned that I should strive to become a reference in my field so that my businesses can flourish and hopefully become over-subscribed!

Body and mind I leave to Jean-Pierre de Villiers and Tara Brach for their constant posting that I use to guide my behaviour towards health and mindfulness.

I also like Seth Godin and Jason Fried for the simplistic and vanguard manner they think about day-to-day businesses and Gary Vaynerchuk for the energy and reality-show style of doing advertising.

But when it comes to native marketing I stick with old-school fellas’ such as David Ogilvy and Philip Kotler so that I can never lose my sales-y touch. With them, I learned to let clients speak 90% of the time to reap better rewards.

About Digital Marketer Felipe Lodi

Felipe crates marketing strategies to leverage companies and personal brands in the digital world. He also pursues business leadership, public speaking and creative content production.

Before that, he spent more than 23 years designing software solutions for multinationals in countries such as Belgium, Germany, Ireland and Brazil. Felipe is based in Dublin, Ireland, and you can read his story about how he transitioned his goals and moved to Europe here. Connect with Felipe on Twitter.

Sheelagh Caygill

Sheelagh Caygill is an award-winning content marketer, communications practitioner, and journalist. She is based in Toronto and currently looking for new opportunities. Sheelagh has worked for media organizations and also the corporate and non-profit sector in Canada and the U.K.

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