By now, it is safe to say every business recognizes the need for having a well-known name market their brand and be their voice on social media. The well-known name is what we now call an influencer in 2021.
I get it. The word ‘influencer’ has been thoroughly abused and thrown around frequently well out of its context. But the true idea of who or what an influencer is something that still holds ground. An influencer is someone who can get your target audience to engage with your brand or business. This eventually leads to growth in sales and revenue. That’s the ultimate goal of employing a person of influence to speak on behalf of your business.
Earlier, influencers were celebrities in the arts, sports, and other media-related functions. So essentially your actors, musicians, star athletes, top businessmen, etc. An influencer then came to mean someone who has a massive social media presence and clout. These people can advertise products that their audience will buy. You have big influencers with millions of followers and micro-influencers who have followers that pursue a specific interest.
Either way, brands flocked to these new-age influencers like a moth to a flame. And why wouldn’t they? These influencers had followers whom brands could target and turn into customers.
Years ago, before influencer marketing was even a thing, Nike partnered with YouTube content creator Casey Neistat for a campaign called ‘Make it Count’. The campaign helped Nike gain a wide distribution and appeal for their new product launch. It is considered one of the best brand stories by many in the social media and advertising space. This is a classic example of using a social media influencer to promote the brand and new products.
There are some businesses still who question the need and or even the efficacy of Influencer Marketing. I think the results are out there. Businesses are not just growing but also flourishing by employing influencer marketing strategies. Some may see this as just a passing trend.
But from this trend emerged a new type of influencer who will change the game for businesses and how they carry out their branding – the social influencer founder or CEO/CXO.
Who is the Social Influencer Founder or CEO?
Until now, it was only the founders and CEOs of well-established companies who had any sort of following on social media. People lapped up everything they had to say – be it business advice, their opinion on something, or just a general expression of a thought.
That is no longer true. There are now business leaders who are extremely popular on social media and people know their company’s brand through them. These are founders and CEOs/CXOs who are popular in their domain or the domain to which they sell.
Let’s face it. It is not an easy task to build a loyal brand following for your business on social media. It is a long tiring endeavor and takes forever to gain the following that a business will deem suitable.
In contrast, it’s far easier to be an individual social influencer, especially if you are a business owner or leader. A simple reason for this is because these people have insights that resonate with their peers and fellow audiences. They talk about things that certain people want to hear. They are also experts in their field or a certain topic on which they regularly spread discourse.
Social Influencer CEOs are the best growth hacking tool
Marketing is changing. We regularly see new ways emerging in an attempt to reach the right audience. Methods to do this are constantly evolving. Businesses are trying every tool and technique out there to growth hack their way to success.
Social influencer CEO/CXOs can help bolster this and find avenues of growth that the business didn’t know even existed. If a business has a CEO or CXO with a sizable and loyal following of people who listen to what they have to say, it becomes that much easier to market and position the business for benefit.
Probably the first name that comes to mind when you think of a CEO with a large social media following is Elon Musk. You may think that he is the outlier. You’d be wrong. He is in fact the rule now, rather than an exception.
Think about all the hype Elon Musk raises for his businesses. And he isn’t doing this just now after he’s become a well-known businessman and billionaire. He’s been doing this right from the start. It may or may not have been on purpose, but it sure has had some tremendous positive impact on the businesses he owns and runs.
Similarly, there are so many leaders of a business who have a good amount of social media following. And the brands they own or represent would not be relevant to people outside of that particular or few industries. And that is all right. You don’t need everyone to know about your business, you just need the right people to do.
These ‘right people’ are who you see as the ideal customer for your business. People who you think should make use of and purchase the product or service your business is offering.
And a CEO who commands a social following can easily benefit the business. The people who follow such a CEO are not only potential customers but also potential networking opportunities. And we all know what great outcomes can come from connecting with the right people.
Some great examples of CEOs who have a popular social media following include Pete Lau of OnePlus, Andrew Ng of Coursera, David Cancel of Drift. The popularity of the CEO goes hand in hand with the popularity of the brand, and many people go from followers to users through this channel. Since they provide information of value, the audience laps it gleefully.
There are many CEOs out there who recognize this benefit now. You only ever need to log in to LinkedIn and Twitter to see this happen. They are working to establish their presence on social media as a means to build the brand of their business. The hustle is on.
Social advertising no longer works the way it did
Top this up with the ever-changing algorithms and rules of Social media advertising platforms, the return on investment is no longer as bulletproof as before. Ad spends and CPM (cost per mille) are going up across the board. Organic growth and brand building will take a center stage in the coming years when the gains from social advertising no longer make sense.
There will come a threshold where brands must rely on their own branding efforts - and having a CEO who commands a social media following is definitely one of the key ones. This will allow brands to directly advertise to their audience who already express a certain loyalty to your brand and its offering, through the way of the CEOs influence.
Social Influencer CEOs help in cutting through the noise
Social media is a place that gives a voice to everyone and anyone. The downside for brands is that there is way too much noise and information out there that overpowers everything your brand puts out there.
There is just too much content and too little time to consume it. Remember, you’re competing with every other brand out there for your audience’s attention, not just the ones in your industry or your competitors. Your ideal buyer does not exist in isolation and multiple other brands and businesses want a piece of them for their own offerings.
A social influencer CEO lends your brand campaigns a sense of authenticity. People perceive information coming from a person as more valuable than the one shared by a brand (in most cases related to business advertising, and not including News & Media content).
How to become a social influencer CEO?
You’re probably thinking all that is well and good, but how do I become one? Honestly, there is no one answer. Building a following as a CEO or CXO is the same as building a follower being anyone else – it’s all about what you say and how it resonates with the intended audience.
“You don’t need a corporation or a marketing company to brand you now: you can do it yourself. You can establish who you are with a social media following.” --- Ray Allen, former NBA athlete
Relevance and relatability
The idea is to build a following around you as a CEO based on the value of the things you post or Tweet. We’ve already established that for you to be a social influencer for your business, what you speak about needs to be relevant to the business and may see your potential target audience.
For example, you could talk about problems that are faced in the industry which your business serves. You could also speak of and elaborate on the things you see and observe as a CEO or business leader.
Since your insights come from a place of experience and learning, they are bound to attract people who have undergone similar encounters or who seek to learn about such instances and events.
The human touch to branding
The ultimate goal of being a social influencer CEO is to uplift your business and have a positive impact on it – be it by revenue, brand recognition, or networking.
CEOs don’t necessarily need to be spending hours upon hours on social media to get people to engage with their brand. It is all about finding a way to connect with people in their community and help in creating some hype and buzz for the business.
Becoming a social influencer CEO takes some time and effort. And like they say, overnight success is the result of years of continuous hard work.