Cindy Hook and Alex Malley lead new generation of ‘social executives’
Social media savvy chief executives are becoming an increasingly common breed, as leaders in the financial services sector turn to avenues like Twitter and LinkedIn to attract a new generation of customers.
According to a new report by social media management company Hootsuite and LinkedIn, socially-engaged companies are 40 per cent more likely to appear competitive and 58 per cent more likely to attract talent.
Hootsuite financial services global industry principle Amy McIlwain said local chief executives such as Deloitte Australia head Cindy Hook and CPA Australia chief Alex Malley are leading the way when it comes to communicating on the web.
“One of the best practices is to be you. If you wouldn’t say it offline, don’t say it online,” Ms McIlwain said.
“Be authentic, be transparent and don’t be something you’re not. People look for humanising features, do don’t be afraid to share your hobbies. People do business with people they like and trust.”
As part of the study the organisations analysed more than 340,000 social media posts from the Australian financial services industry throughout May to September.
It found that at social engaged companies where the executives use social media, the employees are 57 per cent more likely to leverage these channels to drive sales.
The study also concluded that so-called ‘social executives’ in the industry, those who are regularly communicating on social media, received 4.7 times more profile visits, 10.8 time mores views on long form posts and 14 times higher engagement on shared content.
Ms McIlwain said banking and finances executives in Australia were well-placed to leverage social media in their organisations, given the amount of technological disruption already underway in the industry.
“[They] need to proactively lead from the front, engaging and empowering employees and sales teams,” she said.
“We encourage executives to get on social and start by listening. Follow the influencers and understand the conversations taking place and then when they’re comfortable to join and engage in those conversations.”
CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley was pinpointed in the report as an example of an executive with a strong social media presence.
Mr Malley told The Australian Financial Review when he first started as CEO at CPA Australia social media was foreign to him, but it has become a critical part of his strategy.
“These days you have to accept that the future of the business rests in the next generation, and they use multiple ways to communicate,” he said.
“I’m a former teacher, so I know that people often relate to the person, and not always to the business or the brand and the profession is known to be quite impersonal at times,” he said.
Mr Malley does not just talk about accounting industry issues on social media, instead he’s not afraid to weigh in on the big business stories of the day, write thought-leadership posts and talk about his personal interests. He also takes questions from young professionals and always responds via his website The Naked CEO (also the title of his book).
The media savvy CEO has earned the title of “Australia’s most accomplished self-promoter” by Rear Window columnist Joe Aston, but Mr Malley is unphased.
“The Naked CEO just had its 5 millionth visitor, and then we’ve got Twitter and LinkedIn and we have new content up every day. If there’s an issue that’s not related to accounting, like Dick Smith, I’ll still talk about it,” he said.
“It’s dramatically changed our culture. We now have a sense that we can try things. We aim to disrupt, so we look at disruptive ways of talking about a topic… It’s your best piece of market research, I can tell in 24 hours if something is worth putting together as a program.”
Ms McIlwain said where leaders go wrong online, is when they fail to be authentic. US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has learnt this lesson the hard way throughout the election campaign, struggling to attract young voters despite asking millennials on Twitter to “tell her in three emojis or less” what they feel about student loan debt.
Digital Perception Index
The Hootsuite and LinkedIn study also developed a new rating tool called the Digital Perception Index, which determines a company or sector’s perception online.
Australian investment and wealth management institutions were found to still be struggling to rebuild trust after the global financial crisis, scoring the lowest ranking of +3.97 per cent on the index, while superannuation firms led the financial services sector with a +12.55 per cent ranking, compared to the industry average of +5.94 per cent.
By: Yolanda Redrup
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