While many bank employees are active on social media, do you know how social your bank's c-suite is? Don't be surprised if the number of execs actively using social media at your organization is low. Many senior leaders are not very social media savvy, and those who are only do it minimally.

Is it really that important? The short answer is YES. In a world where people expect to be able to communicate directly with politicians and celebrities, bank executives have an opportunity to tap into the power of social media. Successful leaders use social media to give their bank a human face and reap benefits for their banks:

  • Build trust
  • Enhance reputation
  • Support brand and mission
  • Attract top talent
  • Be a thought leader
  • Increase sales

Now is the time to help your executive team embrace the social space!

Where to Start

Creating a "social executive program" is a great way to develop a social c-suite. Working with your marketing department, you can take a strategic approach to helping your top leaders establish an influential and trustworthy social presence. 

Start with CEO buy-in. For executives to be active and engaged on social, they first need to believe what they are doing is worthy of their time and will benefit their organization. Even better if the CEO agrees to champion this effort and take the lead; three out of four consumers say a CEO's presence on social makes a brand more trustworthy (Source: BRANDfog), and companies with CEOs active on social media are perceived 23 percent more positively than those with inactive CEOs (Source: Hootsuite).

Once you have buy-in, you are ready to create a strategy around how your executives should use social. A successful program has the following components:

  • GOALS: What do you want your social executive program to accomplish? Do you want to be perceived as thought leaders? Amplify corporate content? Put a human face on the organization? Drive recruitment and engage existing employees? It's important to define what you want to do so you can take a strategic approach to helping executives establish an influential and trustworthy social media presence. 
  • TACTICS: This is the meat of your plan—the what, when, and how. Answer questions such as:
    • What platforms should you focus on? LinkedIn is the obvious first choice for bank executives. It's a major channel for thought leadership and allows you to reach an audience that goes far beyond a personal network. Twitter allows you to communicate with a broader audience in a less formal way. Facebook and Instagram allow you to be authentic and create genuine connections by sharing personal and family moments. Choose the one(s) that best align with your goals.
    • What should you post? As an executive, you may want to position yourself as part of a broader team, praising employee accomplishments and even engaging with individual employees. Thought leadership posts are just as important to help position you and your bank as industry experts. Also use social media to start and engage in conversations about community and causes that are important to you. Again, align your posts with your goals and your channels.
    • How often? Publishing frequency matters when you are trying to establish a presence on social media. In general, strive to post quality content consistently and commit to publishing regularly over the long term. If you are just starting out in the social space, start small and build up your frequency. There are actually many schools of thought on what the best posting frequency is, but a company called CoSchedule recently combined 10 different studies done about this and offers the following best practices:
      • Facebook: 1 post per day
      • Twitter: 15 tweets per day
      • LinkedIn: 1 post per day
      • Instagram: 1-2 posts per day
    • What training is needed? Do an audit of which (if any) executives currently use social media, and to what degree. Assess each individual's level of comfort and familiarity with social media to ensure your program addresses their different needs, and you can provide the appropriate training. 
    • What is the process? To effectively put your social executive plan into action, define a process for creating, approving, and posting content. Be sure to work with compliance to ensure everyone follows bank policies and best practices in social media.
  • METRICS: How do you know if your leadership team is meeting the defined goals? It can be as simple as looking at engagement – how many likes, comments, and shares are your posts getting? You may want to consider investing in social listening tools for more advanced analytics. 

Building a social c-suite takes time, but ultimately each executive will find his/her voice and start connecting with other employees, customers, shareholders, and partners. And the more participative your senior leaders are in social media, the more engaged the organization will become. Once the organization is engaged, levels of trust, competence, intellect, and productivity will swell. That can only be a good thing when it comes to customer satisfaction and profitability. 

Wiegert is SVP Marketing at Investors Community Bank and a member of the 2018-2019 WBA Marketing Committee.