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Why Smart Leaders are Social Leaders

Caitlin Bartley ’09  headshot

Sep 6, 2020

3 minute read

Dartmouth Founders Project

Caitlin Bartley ’09, founder and CEO of credPR, is a member of Dartmouth Founders Project. The Founders Project is a community of entrepreneurs committed to supporting Dartmouth via their future financial success. Members build a network rooted in a shared appreciation for business and philanthropy — and celebrate the role they play in Dartmouth’s history of innovation.

The most successful companies today are the ones that show authenticity and know how to share it. And as a leader, that task begins with you. More and more crucial these days is transparently telling the company’s story, and yours. 

Consumers and employees now expect a certain level of engagement from a brand at the leadership level. They (especially your users or customers) don’t want to hear from a logo. They want to know a company has a face, a personality, a voice. They want to feel a connection to a person. 

Cred PR logo

The leaders of these successful organizations are eager to be the “Face of the Brand” — or they should be. They don’t outsource this position — it’s a natural extension of their thinking and behavior.

These kinds of social leaders tend to be more influential at empowering others, stronger at communications, and better at cultivating networks. One of my biggest learnings and take-aways with my Dartmouth diploma is the power of being social. The Dartmouth experience cultivates leaders and inspires individuals to share knowledge through our strong Green network, something I’ve encountered on numerous occasions over the last decade here in the Silicon Valley. 

Here are four other reasons why CEOs should invest time in social and their personal brand:

  1. Connect with customers: Not only does social provide a direct line of communication with those who purchase your product, but it’s a practical way to always have a finger on the pulse of your company and industry. A good example is when Airbnb’s Brian Chesky took to Twitter last year to ask people what they wanted his company to launch in 2017. 
  2. Build trust: 80% of consumers are more likely to trust a company whose CEO is more active on social media. Think of social media (we’re talking Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, personal blog, company videos etc.) as an opportunity to humanize you and prove your accessibility by engaging in two-way dialogue. 
  3. Strengthen public perception: CEOs should be featured regularly in company branding, even if it is footage from a speaking engagement or a snippet from a town hall meeting. In the midst of a PR crisis, brands who put their CEOs on the frontlines see a significant boost in public perception. AirAsia’s CEO Tony Fernandes was lauded for his updates on Twitter after a big plane crash in 2014. 
  4. Retain employees: In today’s battle for talent, a leader’s effective communication with employees will motivate a workforce to contribute to the company’s financial success. Research shows executives with social CEOs say their CEOs’ social media presence makes them feel inspired, technologically advanced, and proud.

Last thing. Keep at it. Creating and building a stellar brand reputation requires a consistent effort, but certainly worthy work for leaders. 

Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts, feedback or personal experience: