Busy CEOs may find it hard to make time to keep up an online image in the form of tweets, Facebook profiles and blogs, and many may not even see the point. Fear of writing something without the communications department approving it could also prevent them working on their online image. But others feel it's essential and beneficial to their organisation, and are actively posting and sharing on LinkedIn and through their own blogs. People Management spoke to branding expert Rawan Albina about why and when leaders should tweet.

Is it valuable to an organisation for its leaders to be active on social media? Should they have any training?
It is valuable because they are the highest authority representing the brand or organisation and they have the power to make it more human. Blogging, tweeting and having an active LinkedIn profile are all very important. Having a professional Facebook profile is not so vital, especially with the availability of platforms like Workplace – which is Facebook for work – and Yammer.

Any leader managing their own online profile should remember that, as thought leaders, they will have a big following. So they should make sure what they share is authentic, from the heart, true to the reputation they want to uphold of themselves and the business they represent, and respectful.

Is it common for senior people to start crafting their online presence, only to get bored or lack time to continue? Does it matter if they give up?
Yes, it is quite common because senior leaders simply don’t have the time to do that unless it is something they are passionate about. There is no point starting to create an online presence if you don't plan to keep it up. That is the nature of today’s digital world: news shared five minutes ago can become history. Their online presence needs to stay alive and relevant otherwise it will be futile.

For senior leaders not to feel overwhelmed, and to relieve some of the pressure they feel to keep going, it is best to plan content ahead of time, especially if they are blogging or tweeting, where frequency is very important in order to gain a higher number of followers. Crafting a social media plan with topics they want to cover and even having a few pieces written ready to give them a head start is very important. They can then use automation services to tweet a number of times a day and publish blog posts on certain dates.

They can also post the same content they have on their blog to LinkedIn to reach a different audience and increase their professional following. The value of their content can multiply if it is presented to different audiences online under different formats, but they must be careful not to overdo it or their followers will notice, get overwhelmed and decide to unfollow them.

There can be paranoia about publicly writing something that will upset someone. Do leaders often prefer to hand over their tweets and online professional image to their corporate communications department?
This paranoia, in my opinion, is ill-founded. If these leaders spend enough time understanding the culture of the Middle East, there will be no reason to worry about what to write and what not write. Understanding the culture means that they understand the values and the boundaries they need to stay respectful of.

Just keep in mind that what might be okay to share online in their home country is not necessarily okay in the Middle East. So being vigilant, respectful and doing the necessary research before sharing an opinion piece is very important.

Some senior leaders prefer to hand over their online presence to their corporate communications department, but this means they may lose the personal touch and authentic connection with their followers. Only they can decide what is more important to them.

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