What Zuckerberg, Trump and Musk can teach us about social media

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By Michelle Carvill

Thanks to technology, the way we communicate as a nation has changed significantly. Once upon a time, not that long ago, those leading organisations or indeed countries, would largely sit in an ivory tower, decision making and directing – and were only really ‘heard and seen’ when rolled out by the PR and communications teams to either rally election support, a momentous occasion or the annual meeting.

Today it’s quite a different story. We find leaders of many of the most inspiring organisations and powerful countries in the world, taking to the social media stage on a daily basis, to share news, inspiration and thought leadership. Of course, some are more comfortable than others… so, what can those hesitant to step into the ‘social media’ limelight learn from some of the more vocal CEOs?

President of the USA, Donald Trump: Continuous Conversations

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that President Trump is using social as a key resource to stay front and centre. From a content perspective, while the language and sentiment may not ordinarily be what one would expect from the President of the USA, he certainly ticks all the boxes from a ‘content mix’ perspective – emotional, entertaining, curated, thought leadership, topical.  A look at his latest Twitter activity showcases, Mother’s Day wishes, condolences around yet another vicious terror attack in Paris, live footage from the elections in Israel and news about China and US trade negotiations.  It’s live. It’s real. It’s current. The views certainly come across as authentic. There’s no waiting days to hear his viewpoint on topics – and he’s not sitting in an office waiting to share his voice with the press. Instead, he’s most certainly, walking and talking and keeping the wheels of conversation and engagement well and truly spinning.

CEO SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk: Thought Leadership and Authenticity

Elon Musk shares insights and updates on SpaceX and progress on his missions. The recent, and hugely important, #Block5 satellite mission, had its own hashtag, and was live streamed – allowing anyone to tune in via social to witness the launch first hand. Typical of the regular news and updates shared. He also curates and shares interesting content from thought leaders around technological advances, progress and opinion on SpaceX and Tesla and the environment. And talk about leaders having the courage to say what they really think. He’s certainly happy to call out others in a measured and gentleman like way. Brave, bold, humorous and playful – he comes across as hugely authentic at all times. If you’re interested in what’s going on in his world, is simply tune in to his Twitter feed to get a bird’s eye view.

CEO Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg: Brand Awareness, Personal, PR, Employee Engagement and Community

Tune in to Mark Zuckerberg on either his Facebook page and his Instagram account @zuck – and you’ll notice that it’s a real mix of content. There are updates about the recent data privacy challenges, talking first-hand about what’s being addressed. Pictures of him and his family, talking about real-world personal stuff, shout outs to his developer communities and shout outs to employees, congratulating them on anniversaries and thanking them for their loyalty, trust and continued support.

In all three cases, there is a constant stream of conversation. It’s not all promotion, it’s not all business, it’s not all staged PR posturing and it’s not over-scripted. The activity is a blend of real-world day to day living, which when relevant include the big news stories and PR moments that go with the territory. The leader of the business is front and centre, sharing moments as they happen via short bursts of insight and conversation via their social media channels in a transparent and authentic way. What you see is what you get – viewpoints, wins, pain-points, personal life – things they find amusing, frustrating or emotionally moving.

Research tells us that communicating and connecting in this transparent and authentic way builds trust for leaders, from both employees and customers.  And for each of these leaders, they’ve build huge followings from employees, customers and the rest of the world.

My question to you then is – what are you doing to authentically and actively engage with customers and employees, lead from the front and champion the brand and create and participate in authentic and transparent conversations?

Get Social: Social Media Strategy & Tactics for Leaders by Michelle Carvill, pictured above, is out now, published by Kogan Page, priced £14.99.