In the post-social media era, corporate messaging and brand health management is becoming increasingly complex, multifaceted and unpredictable. While there is no one correct formula for success, the presence of business executives on social media has increasingly become a big part of this mix.

Different, but the same

The different social media strategies used by two telecommunications industry executives is a case in point. In 2018, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg and T-Mobile CEO John Legere had contrasting approaches to social media, the former being more reserved while the latter is famously active.

Even their Twitter profiles show vastly different personas.

The most interesting part about this juxtaposition is that in spite of these differences, the net sentiment surrounding their social media presence is about the same (albeit with different sample sizes) at 72 percent positive.

The top overview shows data on Hans Vestberg (Verizon CEO), while the bottom overview shows that for John Legere (T-Mobile CEO).

Opposite Ends of Publicity

Previously serving as the company’s CTO, Hans Vestberg was named Verizon’s CEO in August of 2018. Media mentions of his name are tied to this timeline, experiencing a slight bump in June when his CEO successorship was first announced, then a more radical jump in August as he fully assumed his position.

Things get interesting once we put this trend in perspective with his T-Mobile counterpart John Legere. For most of 2018, Legere maintained higher mention counts than Verizon as a whole, let alone its CEO Vestberg. Mentions of Vestberg pale in comparison to Legere, who has a much more higher-profile approach to social media.

Legere Is Visible

The extent to which T-Mobile CEO Legere engages with stakeholders on social media is incredible. He is the most engaged author on Twitter for both Verizon and T-Mobile, while also managing to maintain conversations with other regular Twitter users.

Legere is one of Verizon’s (his competitor’s) top authors by engagement, replies, quotes and retweets.

Legere also is constantly interacting with his own company’s Twitter handles.

Legere’s owned activity, on the left, shows a much higher number of replies to other Twitter users than Vestberg’s, on the right.

Vestberg is Balanced

While Vestberg may have fewer conversations on Twitter, the topics with which he engages are relatively more diverse than those with which Legere engages, suggesting that Vestberg is keen to build a more balanced CEO persona on Twitter.

Vestberg, according to this breakdown of top issues, is interested in topics beyond just the telecommunications industry.

This is not to say that Legere is not being as thoughtful about creating a down-to-earth and multi-dimensional persona. In fact, he has his own weekly live cooking channel on Facebook. The takeaway here is that the two CEOs are tackling the same goal, but in different ways.

The bottom line

Trying to navigate the unpredictable social media landscape can be daunting, especially in an age where brand health and reputation, so easily influenced by social media, can greatly impact a company’s bottom line.

While there is no one “right” way of crafting a strategic media persona, here are a few considerations communications professionals should take into account when guiding their executives:

  1. What are you trying to achieve? How does this tie to broader strategic initiatives?
  2. Do you intend to use your CEO for direct communications with customers?
  3. Is the persona you are creating authentic to both your brand and the CEO?
  4. Can you sustain the activity and continue to engage the following you build?
  5. Will you commit to consistent levels of transparency through the ups and downs?  

What matters more than the volume of communications is the thought and strategy that goes behind it. While there are many benefits to having an active CEO voice, including creating a direct pathway to customers, guideposts are required to ensure efforts fit into the overall strategy of what you are trying to achieve for the brand. And, companies must measure the impact a CEO’s communications have on overall brand reputation.

If you are interested in seeing how Zignal can help you measure and inform your CEO social media strategy, contact us for a demo.