A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is a digital brand. The online presence they build for themselves, the connections they make, and the content they share all have a direct impact on public perception of their company. This, in turn, influences the corporate brand – which can prove disastrous in the event of even a single errant Tweet or negative news article.
How can the consumer public, or employees and stakeholders, for that matter, trust a CEO if they see questionable content when searching for them online? Having an airtight online reputation is incredibly important, especially in periods of change or transition – for example, launching an IPO, or trying to secure a strategic business partnership.
Just how critical is CEO reputation?
According to ReputationManagement.com, executives attribute 45% of their company’s reputation to the CEO. Furthermore, just four negative search results can cost as much as 70 percent of potential business. Clearly, an executive’s online reputation is their most important digital asset.
When someone searches for a CEO online, the first page of Google results usually presents a mixture of “owned” content, such as a website or their social media profiles, and third-party content (e.g. a Wikipedia page or editorial article). If a CEO fails to build-out their social media profiles, they leave space open for negative content to fill the void on search engine results pages (SERPs). Social media is one of the most valuable and intuitive ways to secure branded real estate in SERPs, acting as a barrier against negative online content.
According to data from CNBC, nearly half (48%) of CEOs in the S&P 500 stock market index have some form of social media presence. Despite that, only one in four has posted in the last year. It’s time for CEOs to take control of their brand reputation. A great way to start is by claiming their personal brand across social media platforms and creating thoughtful, relevant, and engaging content.
It’s hard to know where to begin with social media. Luckily, there are many top-level executives out there leveraging the various platforms to solidify their brand reputations as thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and socially aware citizens. Take a look at a few standout examples:
Ibrahim Al-Haidos –– Fursan
Ibrahim Al-Haidos is an entrepreneur and CEO most famous for Fursan, a line of luxury handbags. Al-Haidos’s main platform is Instagram, where he boasts over 100k followers. Not only does he maintain a frequent cadence of posts, he also likes to share pictures of his life and family. His commitment to sharing the personal along with his business ventures helps to keep the public engaged. A quick glance at his branded SERPs predominantly display owned profiles, with a few interviews thrown in. It’s clear that Al-Haidos is serious about maintaining his personal brand as both a family man and a successful entrepreneur.
Dan Schulman –– PayPal
Dan Schulman, President, and CEO of PayPal has a strong presence across LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Though he currently doesn’t have Instagram, he has built his owned channels on page one of branded search results. How? Through a number of affiliated profile pages on sites like Crunchbase, Bloomberg, and others.
Schulman is a perfect example of a CEO owning the majority of page one real estate. Much of his branded results are social properties he and his team directly control or biography pages whose content he likely dictates. This becomes incredibly valuable in the wake of any negative press. As you can see, his results are also peppered with third-party features and interviews he doesn’t control.
Adena Friedman –– Nasdaq
Adena Friedman is the President and CEO of Nasdaq – and in 2015, she was named one of the 40 most powerful women in the world. Friedman’s appointment to Nasdaq in 2017 made her the first woman to lead a major U.S. stock exchange. Her branded search results validate and bolster her expertise, with a strong social media history of sharing cutting-edge, industry news and inspiring content for other female entrepreneurs.
Gary Kelly –– Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines, a company often hailed for its customer service, has an exemplary leader in CEO Gary Kelly. Not only has he secured social media profiles on the first page of the SERPs, but he also goes above and beyond with Twitter and LinkedIn. He uses these platforms to share thoughtful posts about people-first leadership, team building, and motivation. As a current employee, job-seeking hopeful or a customer, Kelly’s social media presence helps to reinforce the Southwest corporate brand.
Social media is a powerful tool that CEOs can use to fortify branded search results and protect their online reputation. Still not sure about social media? Educators and leaders in the community are committed to imparting extended learning for professionals and entrepreneurs looking for a social media roadmap. Remember: every CEO starts the same way – with a single post.
Author: Jennifer Radke
Jennifer Radke, CEO of NISM, is a dedicated, passionate and strategic business leader with 15+ years in sales and recruitment management, leadership, coaching, development and training. Most recently, she was the owner and chief strategist at Socially Inspired, a social media training and consulting company. In addition, she is an NISM-certified Social Media Strategist (SMS), serves on the board for Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota and can be found speaking and presenting to job seekers and businesses alike, on how to better utilize social media in the workplace. Jennifer believes that lifelong learning is the key to continued growth and your networks are the best way to expose yourself to new opportunities.