The Growing Trend of CEO Content Series and Why They’re Valuable
By Rosemary Girard, Account Supervisor, Digital DC, Edelman US
We know from the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer: Expectations for CEOs report that a majority of people believe CEOs should communicate with the public via social media (63%), an even larger majority (79%) say knowing a CEO’s personal values is important to building trust, and spontaneous speakers are more trusted than those who deliver well-rehearsed speeches.
Sharing serialized video content on social media is one tactic executives are increasingly using to cover all those bases. Videos quite literally give them more face time with their audiences—and the medium is gaining popularity, with estimates that videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic this year. (Audio has a similar effect in the case of CEO podcasts.)
CEOs and their teams are often stretched for time. Creating serialized content can help take the pressure off editorial planning, feed executive and corporate social channels, and increase engagement with followers who keep checking back for the next installment. The approach can also take many forms and is scalable. Some share recurring video posts straight from their phones, while others are investing in branded and produced shows.
Regardless of which format their serialized content takes, the CEOs who are most successful do the following:
1) Use their shows or serialized content as a vehicle to reinforce their business narrative with key audiences: As the face of their companies and top brand ambassadors, CEOs must find ways to drive awareness and understanding of their company’s mission, values, and products in new ways. Edelman helped to create PayPal CEO Dan Schulman’s Facebook Watch show and podcast, “Never Stand Still,” to increase awareness of PayPal’s commitment to values like diversity and inclusion, innovation and wellness. In the show, Dan speaks to other values-driven public figures and business leaders about lessons they’ve learned and their industry outlook, weaving PayPal’s own narratives through the conversations in organic ways.
2) Demonstrate authenticity, approachability, and humanity by tying content to the executive’s personal interests and strengths: As CEOs’ personal social channels have evolved into official business communications platforms, the reverse has also happened—with audiences now expecting to see more personality from executives, too. Sam’s Club CEO John Furner is an avid cyclist outside of work and made this hobby the premise of his “Business on Bikes” Facebook Watch show, where he talks to other leaders while cycling together. Similarly, the title and concept for “Never Stand Still” came from a business philosophy Schulman adopted from his daily practice of Krav Maga.
3) Position themselves as a thought leader and advocate, especially among other executives and influencers: Many CEO shows center around topics that the executive can offer a unique perspective or insight on, allowing them to demonstrate industry knowledge and expertise beyond the company they lead. Many of them also feature the executive in conversation with a prominent guest, employee or partner. Examples include Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon’s “Catch-Up with David,” which has featured conversations with Goldman employees and fellow business leaders; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s partner and employee interviews; or Stubhub CEO Sukhinder Singh Cassidy’s “On SET” series where she talks to peers about sports, entertainment, and technology.
4) Pick a format that allows them to shine: While some executives feel most comfortable sitting down for a Q&A, others come alive in more candid, unscripted scenarios. In her “Money in 60 Seconds” series, Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck gives crisp and informative answers to questions that her followers have submitted about finance, from wherever she happens to be that day. Additionally, WIRED Editor-In-Chief Nick Thompson films a daily video where he discusses the “most interesting thing in tech.” And T-Mobile CEO John Legere has gained notoriety for his weekly #SlowCookerSunday series on Facebook Live where he cooks a meal while answering questions from customers and promoting T-Mobile offerings. (This series even made it onto a segment of The Tonight Show.)
5) Leverage the show across platforms to increase ROI and drive content on various channels: CEO shows are often created with a particular channel in mind, but given executive time is always at a premium, we’re seeing more executives find creative ways to cross-promote across platforms. LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman’s “Masters of Scale” and former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff’s “Office Hours” podcasts are both good examples of this. Each have used audiograms, branded quote cards, behind-the-scenes photos, and more to promote the shows across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, respectively. Additionally, PayPal’s Schulman converted each episode of his Facebook Watch show into a podcast, and also published LinkedIn articles that summarized key takeaways from the conversations.
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