5 Non-Tech CEOs Using Social Media To Drive Business Results

By Evan LePage • 8 months ago • 0 Comments

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As more and more industries and businesses have come to accept social media as an essential part of their day-to-day marketing operations, the focus has turned to how social can be scaled throughout all facets of business. From sales to human resources, social media tools are proving to be valuable assets for improving efficiency and effectiveness across the board.

With this new focus on the ‘social business,’ discussions have frequently turned to the C-suite and how an executive’s presence on social networks can benefit business. While this is an important discussion to have, much of the talk has focused on tech CEOs whose companies often provide services directly related to social media in one way or another.

Social media isn’t only important to tech companies, and executives in industries as varied as textiles or banking are turning to these channels. Yet, 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs still aren’t using social media. For this reason, we thought it was important to highlight non-tech CEOs using social media to help drive business results. Here are five that are making an impact:

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Richard Branson is undeniably a leader in the social space, and not only among CEOs. Branson has committed to blogging and contributing content that enriches the experience of his followers and of Virgin’s clients. With over 3.3 million Twitter followers, over 4.7 million Google+ followers, and 2.1 million followers on his LinkedIn influencer blog, Branson has no equal among social CEOs. Unlike many of his counterparts, he also follows several thousand people, and tweets often about a variety of topics (not only business). This engagement truly sets him apart and strengthens his presence online.

So how does Branson’s social media use help drive business results? Richard Branson is his own brand: people see him taking part in extreme sports, flying across the world and managing a business empire, and they want to follow that activity much like they would a celebrity. He shares that life through social media and followers join him on his journey, all the while being exposed to Virgin and its products and services. In this way Branson’s social media activity acts like cross-promotion: the Branson brand and the Virgin brand boost the profile of one another. Branson’s activity on social also helps engrain a culture of social media throughout Virgin. He tackled the subject of why executives should use social media in a LinkedIn Post, writing “[...] Like all other areas of business, CEOs have the opportunity to set the bar. By ignoring social networks, they are potentially missing a trick.” Branson clearly leads the way.

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With over 260,000 followers on his LinkedIn Influencer blog (more than double his very impressive 111,000-strong Twitter following!), Caan has become one of the most prominent business leaders on that channel. He has also dedicated much of his activity on social media to business advice, articles and posts that provide real value to entrepreneurs and companies. In addition, Caan is using all aspects of social media, even the background image of his Twitter profile which currently advertises a free audio book.

So how does Caan’s social media activity help drive business results? Caan is in the unique position of working at an equity firm, meaning his company’s success is directly related to the success of companies that they fund. Caan draws attention to these companies using social media. He tweets about successes, business updates, and even job opportunities at the various companies, significantly boosting their reach and public profile. Of course, these tweets are interspersed with blog posts with business advice and retweets of other business leaders in order to appeal to a wide audience online. Caan shares his wealth of knowledge with his social media following, and people trust him. That trust can mean a lot when he channels people to the businesses supported by Hamilton Bradshaw.

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With over 844,000 Twitter followers, Anand Mahindra is undoubtedly influential in the social space. Mahindra’s Twitter feed is an engaging mix of business and pleasure, and of broadcasting and engagement. Yes, he posts about his company, but he also posts inspirational quotes, he posts about cinema, and he even posts about about American politics. He shares his thoughts and passions, and retweets and shares the messages of those who engage with him on those topics. Mahindra is a great example for executives to follow as he is one of the rare CEOs that publicly shows his true colors. Followers love him for it.

So how does Mahindra’s social media activity help drive business results? Mahindra is an Indian company that isn’t necessarily a household name in North America or even Western Europe. With each post, Mahindra is working to change that. He puts out content that is valuable or entertaining to people anywhere in the globe, and in doing so he has attracted a global audience. Those loyal followers are exposed to the Mahindra brand and business along with all the rest of the content, helping to boost the company’s international presence. Being personable helps Mahindra himself, as well as his business, have global appeal.

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Conant seems to have Twitter pegged: he posts Instagram photos, he thanks the people that retweet him, and he even does occasional Follow Friday (#FF) lists. While his follower to following ratio is far less impressive than many executives (24,500 vs 18,500), Conant engages his followers and tweets a lot (often ten times a day!). And his social presence isn’t limited to Twitter. Conant maintains his LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile and has written blogs for the Harvard Business Review since 2011. He also doesn’t shy away from being personal. While he is no longer with Campbell’s Soup, Conant is one of the few people who has sat at the head of a Fortune 500 company that you would actually believe tweets for themselves.

So how does Conan’s social media activity help drive business results? Basically, Conant recognizes that social media is essential for the modern day executive. You can bet that his commitment to social media is passed on to executives and all employees through his role on the Avon board of directors. Conant is so dedicated to social media use in business that he will become the head of Northwestern University’s Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute next fall. While there he’ll be directly involved in preparing C-suite executives for new challenges like workforce diversity, corporate governance and (you guessed it) social media. Conant’s contributions actually go beyond his own companies. He is working to increase the social savvy of executives across the country, and we’re better of for it.

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Peter Aceto is a regular presence on Twitter and Google+, and with over 8,000 tweets to his name is one of the most dedicated social posters. While he has the smallest following on this list, his dedication to engaging and educating his followers is commendable. Aceto writes a blog called “Direct Talk” for the company on which he discusses everything from finance and customer engagement to the culture and working process within the company. His personality and approach also earned him a funny spot guest starring on a Daily Show segment contrasting Canadian and American bankers (in which he comes out well ahead).

So how does Aceto’s social media activity help drive business results? Well, Tangerine doesn’t have any physical branches, relying instead on phone and internet communications with its customers. By being active on social, Aceto adds a face to this communication (he has literally added his own face by using video in some blog posts). He shows that, despite the lack of branches, the company is not lacking in real people willing to deal and interact with clients (even the CEO is getting in on customer service). Having personally interacted with customers on social media, Aceto has also used the information gathered in these conversations to modify and hone the company’s business model. In short, Aceto is a social CEO that helps customers and uses their online feedback, creating loyalty among his followers.

So did we miss any CEOs that are doing great things on social media? Let us know in the comments.

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Author: Evan LePage

Evan LePage has written 180 posts for the HootSource blog..

Evan is a Social Content Writer for HootSuite. He writes features, news items, releases and all things HootSuite.

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16 comments
nivaporaz
nivaporaz

Great article, thanks!

There aren't any women with social media presence? 


shans41
shans41

Great article showing the C level audience that know the power of Social!  This is a great read!

Leslie Gaines Ross
Leslie Gaines Ross

Nice article and informative. Love the comments from the CEOs themselves. That says alot about "social listening." 

tombuchheim
tombuchheim

A good list of social media-savvy CEOs isn't complete without Jack Salzwedel. Check out @AmFamJack.  

jamescaan
jamescaan

I must say it's a real privilege to be acknowledged on this list, I really appreciate it. I have long said that social media is no longer a 'nice to have', it's essential in a business environment. Hopefully we will continue to see more and more executives making use of the tools available. Thanks once again.

James Caan 

AdedayoAdeniyi
AdedayoAdeniyi

Thanks@evanlepage for this great post! Social Media for Business is just entering our stratosphere here in Nigeria and posts like this will help bring the reality closer. I intend to send my clients to this piece asap! 

Doug Conant
Doug Conant

I second Peter's comments. Thank you. The interaction and direct communication with people has been incredibly rewarding. Thank you for acknowledging the time and energy put forth to manage my social media accounts. 

Doug Conant

Peter Aceto
Peter Aceto

Peter Aceto here. @CEO_INGDIRECT Thank you so much for your recognition of my social activities - twitter in particular. Our organization has found my direct involvement internally and externally to be very rewarding for all of us. Most importantly our customers love it and i enjoy the direct engagement. Thank you again!

ptgradlife
ptgradlife

Thanks for the article.  Great ideas and well written. 

evanlepage
evanlepage moderator

@jamescaan Thank you for your insight James. We definitely agree on the essential role of social media in business. Happy to see you leading the way. Hopefully more executives will follow.

evanlepage
evanlepage moderator

@Doug Conant We're happy to do so. Hopefully more and more executives will realize the potential benefits of being active on social media and follow your lead. Thanks for sharing Doug.

jordanbehan
jordanbehan moderator

@Peter Aceto Obviously we had to include the Daily Show clip too- classic! I'm Canadian and heavily biased, but it's one of the funniest Daily Show correspondent segments I've seen in a long time. 

evanlepage
evanlepage moderator

@Peter Aceto Thank you for your comments Peter. It's great to hear directly from the source regarding how your personal presence on social media is rewarding for you and your organization. We passionately believe that many more executives need to approach social media with the same confidence and dedication. Thanks for sharing the post!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

This is a game changer in the reputation management business. These five executives are building the most valuable intangible asset of them all: social capital.  Great story.

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