When Oracle CEO Larry Ellison tweeted for the first time in June, it made worldwide news.

He quickly picked up more than 20,000 followers.

That same week, ZAPPOS CEO Tony Hsieh outlined a significant strategic shift via email to employees. He then posted it to Twitter. He has more than 2 million followers.

The C-Suite is gradually — and sometimes grudgingly — starting to realize the value of social media. Leaders of fast-moving companies and startups are already there. In fact, executives are putting their career at risk if they aren’t already personally using social media[EA2], says the most social CIO in the Fortune 250, Oliver Bussman.

A recent survey by BRANDfrog shares the value proposition for consumers: 77% of customers would buy more from their favorite brands if the company’s CEO were tweeting.

Inspired to network in new ways yet? Social media isn’t limited to Twitter; we’re seeing that executives are inspiring and exciting employees and consumers through these three approaches:

1. Employee success stories

Employees with a passion and purpose are your best success stories too. Sharing their stories via social media — a great invention that improves a patient’s life, a remarkable feat, etc. show customers that your business is better, different, and unique. Employees also realize they are valued.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com didn’t just announce President Obama’s arrival at his headquarters; he thanked his employees for their dedication and extra work hosting the president. That’s a powerful message: His people matter.

2. A sprinkling of personal purpose

Bill Gates used Facebook to explain by video why his charitable work in India is so important to him. Others share their travels. TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, well-known for his philanthropy across the world in donating shoes, titles himself as the “Chief Shoe Giver.”

3. Customer stories

You already know who Richard Branson is. Followers love his blog and social media updates. Recently though, he turned the spotlight on a customer, a young boy who adores his trains and sent him a letter of suggestions. Pictures and a mini-story followed. Readers loved it.

A Forbes blogger says executives are now the narrator of their companies. If you’re silent on social media, who’s telling your company’s story?

 

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