What CEOs Need to Know to Boost Engagement on Social

Jul 24, 2019 | Executive Social, LinkedIn, Social CEO

By Meryl Evans

No CEO or VP wants to post something on LinkedIn only to hear crickets. No likes. No comments. No engagement. And the thought of this pushes some away from posting and engaging on social.

But it shouldn’t.

My experience on LinkedIn shows persistence pays. It also reveals that what you do on LinkedIn makes a difference.

What Stopped Me from Making the Most of LinkedIn

For the longest time, I’d check in on LinkedIn where I’d like a couple of posts. Whenever I posted, I would share another person’s post or link to an article I thought readers would find interesting, along with a little commentary of my own.

This approach yielded very little engagement on LinkedIn. I’d have anywhere between zero and two likes. Occasionally, someone shared my post.

All changed the moment I finally decided to create a video and post it on LinkedIn. You see, I never thought I’d ever, ever do my own videos.

I wasn’t shy.

I didn’t struggle to come up with content ideas.

It wasn’t any of the reasons most people give when explaining why they don’t do video.

What stopped me from making videos was my accent. If only my accent came from a cool place like England or France. Y’all, I’d be happy with a Texas one as a proud Native Texan.

What I have is a deaf accent. That’s a different thing.

Nonetheless, ProResource CEO Judy Schramm convinced me to try video.

How Video Completely Transformed My LinkedIn Engagement

After Judy convinced me to make a video, it took me a few more months to muster up the courage to do it.

I started small. My first video lasted all of 20 seconds. I introduced myself, asked a question, and thanked the viewer.

That’s it!

The results blew me away. That video got more than 1,000 views and 26 comments! This was more than a year’s worth of posts combined!

Floodgates. Opened.

Since then, I’ve published many videos. But that’s not all. I started publishing different types of posts, including:

  • Video
  • Text-only
  • Image
  • File

As a long-time social media consultant, I knew I needed to do more than post. If I wanted to be successful in this, it also required leaving rich comments on other people’s updates.

Between posting and commenting, I got to know my connections faster and built stronger relationships. Doing this for a few months achieved more than I had as a LinkedIn member for 15 years.

How CEOs and VPs Benefit from LinkedIn

As a CEO or VP, your personal brand impacts your company’s reputation. According to a Weber Shandwick study, global executives surveyed attribute 45% of their company’s reputation and 44% of their market value to the reputation of their CEO.

When you build your CEO brand, your company greatly benefits in the following ways:

  • Grows awareness
  • Obtains media coverage
  • Acquires top talent
  • Connects with partners
  • Speeds funding
  • Generates leads

So, yes, it’s worth it for executives to put in the time and effort to nurture their social media presence.

Where do you start? Here are five ways you can increase online engagement.

1. Post Two to Five Times a Week

Some of you aren’t going to like this. Posting frequency matters. That’s what it takes for people to notice and engage with you. LinkedIn and other social networks want to know that you’re going to stick around. And they will reward you when you do.

A CEO of an IT company had been posting consistently. Then, client work and proposals filled his days and he went one week without publishing a post. He believes that the LinkedIn algorithm punished him because he received an all-time low in engagement with his first post on his return.

I’ve heard the same thing from other connections.

What You Can Do Instead of Posting Updates

Before you think this is too much work, it doesn’t have to be. You can comment and like instead of posting. In some ways, it’s better because you get in front of people. You don’t know who will see your post in the feed. Yet, you can count on at least one person seeing your comment — the post author.

Start small. Set a goal of one comment and one like five days a week. Increase the number as it becomes a habit.

Be Careful with Links in Updates

An important point about posting is to avoid including links in the post. Yes, you want people to go to your website or watch your video on YouTube. But LinkedIn doesn’t like links. Why? Because it takes people away from LinkedIn.

Here’s the kicker: LinkedIn doesn’t even like links to LinkedIn articles. LinkedIn Articles and LinkedIn Updates are two different entities.

You can work around the links problem in two ways:

  • Post the link in the comments
  • Publish the update and then edit it to add links

Next time you want to share a company blog post or content, put the key information into the update. Give away some of the key points while leaving some mystery. For example, a blog post lists the 10 best ways to do ABC. Share five ways and encourage people to visit the site for the remaining five.

How to Engage When You’re Too Busy

I make time to use LinkedIn most every weekday. It’s a way to keep my name out there, show expertise, and help others. Sometimes I get so busy with client work that I cannot engage as much. During those busy times, I like a few posts and look for shorter posts to add a comment.

And thanks to smartphones, it’s easy to find a moment to engage. Waiting for a workout class to start? Check LinkedIn. Sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office? Waiting for your flight to board at the airport? Ditto.

Some executives who struggle to find time to engage get help from a social media consultant. This is more common than you think. They key is to find the right person who understands your goals and creates a strategy to work toward those goals.

And for the few who worry about posting too much and dominating the news feed, don’t worry about it.

Not only do you want to like other people’s posts, but you also want to like your own as well as your comments. It’s not an ego move. Many LinkedIn experts encourage this because it helps your engagement rate. Weird, but true. As soon as you publish the update, like it. And like and reply to every comment on your update.

2. Make a List of Hashtags to Use

People follow hashtags to find relevant content easily. On LinkedIn, when you’re writing a new update, it makes hashtag suggestions. Don’t use them. They may not have enough followers. Ideally, you want hashtags with a lot of followers.

Instead, check out this list of popular LinkedIn hashtags to see the number of followers for each. Scroll down to select the ones you want to follow. Then you can view the hashtags you follow to remind you of what hashtags to use. Or make a list to use as a reference.

If you don’t see something you like, use LinkedIn’s search box to search for #YourHashtag. LinkedIn will display the number of followers for it. And as you’ll see in No. 4, use #Captioned every time you post a captioned video.

3. Create Thought-provoking Posts

When you see someone selling their products and services in every post, what do you do? If you’re like most people, you ignore them. Yes, you want to build awareness, get leads, attract investors, and more. However, self-serving updates will not attract engagement. And they may even lose followers.

Here are some post ideas that don’t immediately turn people off:

  • Provide a peek behind the curtain. Talk about something your company is working on or changing. Take viewers on tours of your office and city.
  • Introduce employees. Ask employees to talk about what they do, why they love their job, and to reveal a cool fact about themselves.
  • Recognize employee achievements. This isn’t bragging. You’re showing people what your company can achieve.
  • Share a client story. What problem did the client face, and how did you solve it? You can do video interviews for testimonials or upload an image with a quote complimenting your business.
  • Explore your company culture and values. This drums up interest from future employees and clients. Prospective clients and candidates connect with companies that share their values.
  • Communicate tips and beliefs. Do you allow remote working? How do you make it work? Is it important for employees to have work-life balance? Why are your employees passionate about their work? Do you encourage volunteerism? Again, this goes to shared values.
  • Interview industry experts. Ask them for advice to share. This is a good way to get content from conferences.
  • Upload a presentation. Did you speak or give a presentation? You can post a video of you speaking or share a presentation file for people to download. Make sure the file contains your contact information, website URL, and a call to action.

Executives with high engagement rates regularly post content of value to their target audience. Even talking about your company is valuable. As stated in the first bullet, one way to do this is talk about what happens behind the scenes in your company.

Joanna Sobran, CEO of MXOtech, does this well. In one video, she discusses core values and how they’re the key to everything her company does. She’s posted jobs, lessons learned, congratulations, and more. Many of her posts end with an open-ended question that requires more than a yes or no answer. Try to add an open-ended question at the end of every post.

SkyWord CSO Allen Gannett does many interview-type videos. He conducts video interviews with experts, CEOs, CIOs, and VPs. Many of these videos run less than a minute long. He also interjects humor and personality into his posts.

Think about your target audience and what you want from them. A lead? A partner? A great new employee? Then, figure out what they value and create a post that meets their needs while reflecting your personality and brand.

4. Mix Up the Types of Posts

Variety is the spice of life. It’s also the spice of posting success. Here are the different types of posts available on LinkedIn:

  • Video
  • Image
  • File
  • Text-only
  • Give Kudos

When posting videos, instead of uploading your video to YouTube or Vimeo and linking to it on LinkedIn, upload the captioned video directly into LinkedIn. Why? Because social networks want you to stay on their site.

Tracking Post and Statistics

John Espirian shared an Excel file on LinkedIn for tracking LinkedIn posts and statistics. I used his spreadsheet to see how the different types of LinkedIn posts perform. Figure 1 shows the data.

LinkedIn Post Statistics

The chart indicates File yields the highest engagement. But that’s not the full story. One file post I made had an extremely high engagement rate. (It’s ProResource’s Executive Branding Checklist.)

Despite what the data reveals, all types of posts do well. And all have off days. The one thing I don’t do often is share posts and articles. Those definitely get the worst engagement rates for me. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Many executives have great engagement rates for shares and articles.

Avoid Obsessing Over Numbers

You don’t want to focus too much on the numbers. I’d rather have 10 people engage and two leads than 1,000 engage and zero leads.

A post that goes viral doesn’t necessarily reach your ideal target audience. As I plan each post, I think about my target audience. But no matter how much you strategize, a post won’t always be perfect in attracting the right people.

When posting videos, one thing you always want to do is caption your videos. Captioned videos reach more people, increase brand awareness, and clarify what the speaker says. An OfCom survey has found that 80% of the people who use captions are not deaf or hard of hearing. Be sure to use #Captioned in your post, as that’s how caption users (like me!) search for videos.

5. Respond to Comments

People who take a moment to leave a comment deserve a thank you. And the best way to do that is to respond to their comments with a like and a comment on their comment.

Be sure to tag the person by hitting “reply” to the specific comment. Sometimes, the social network will automatically tag the person. If it doesn’t, type “@” followed by the person’s name until you see it pop up, and then select the name. Tagging the person sends an alert to the person and increases the chances of them engaging further.

Building and gaining momentum takes time. You can show up, but that doesn’t mean people will see you the first, second, or even third time you post. There’s no magic formula to instantly drive engagement. It requires patience and persistence.

A final tip is to find something about you or your company that makes you stand out. Something you can incorporate into your engagement. What I do is solve clients’ digital marketing challenges. Yet, people remember me as the Caption Queen.

People tag me when they find a great captioned video. They also tag me when they find a great video that isn’t captioned. This encourages the author to caption future videos so people like me can watch it.

At first glance, it sounds like captions have nothing to do with marketing. On the contrary, captioning videos is highly relevant to marketing. Of course, I published a post on this topic in “What do captions have to do with marketing?” Statistics prove that captioning videos expands your reach and increases brand awareness.

If you need guidance on how to create engaging posts, work with a LinkedIn coach who has a lot of engagement on their posts. Yes, there’s a catch: Do the work and be patient.

Zig Ziglar’s quote holds true: “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Focus on delivering value, and you’ll be rewarded with likes and comments.


Who else should read this? Please share!

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