A social media lesson for executives from (yikes!) Kim Kardashian

Whatever you may think of Kim Kardashian, there’s no denying that she is a savvy businessperson and an excellent communicator.

Featured as one of “The New Mobile Moguls” on a July Forbes cover — recognition many business executives would love to have — she earned $51 million this year and is described as a trailblazer and leader in her field. According to Forbes, “Kardashian has stumbled into an entirely new way to monetize fame, and she’s been shrewd enough to capitalize on a massive scale.”

So what can CEOs and other senior leaders learn from her about social media? A fair bit…and you don’t have to be genetically blessed, self-promoting or a celebrity to benefit.

Kim K. understands social media incredibly well, overseeing accounts on multiple channels, including Twitter where she has 47.5 million followers. Sure, her audience is the “social media generation”, but they are a fickle bunch. Keeping them happy and engaged requires a solid understanding of everything they like from fashion and music to entertainment, and even the latest social media channel.

She knows this and regularly uses social media to her business advantage. When she recently wanted to gain a following on a new channel (Snapchat), she found a topic her audience would be interested in (something to do with Taylor Swift) and posted about it only on Snapchat. But first, she astutely promoted her new Snapchat account on other platforms. This approach worked like a charm. Media, including the tech press, broadly covered her brilliant strategy.

What lessons can business leaders learn from Kim K? Read on…

  1.  The media landscape has changed. Use it to your advantage.

Kim Kardashian doesn’t need to rely upon traditional media to reach her audience – and neither do today’s business leaders. Every person and company has the opportunity to create and share content with large communities. When this is done well, media often cover stories that are released on social media in their own traditional and social channels, but businesses and senior leaders who use social platforms first have the advantage of convening the conversation.

  1.  Pick the right social media channels for your content.

Understand who your audience is. Remember that as a company or leader you are publishing for a business purpose and pick your channel(s) accordingly. Twitter is great for reaching customers, employees, investors, influencers, government, special interests and media. LinkedIn is best for communicating with prospective employees and people in your industry and for raising your professional profile as a means to secure speaking engagements. Facebook is huge for reaching consumers but it is not always an ideal channel for business-to-business communication.

  1.  Understand the platform you choose and use it correctly.

Twitter is for sharing short thoughts, business insights and links (to an article, blog, or website). LinkedIn also works well for sharing links to articles or blog posts and for longer form commentary on say a news event or trend. Relevant visuals or video are helpful on most platforms for attracting attention to your posts and reinforcing their message. This is an area where Kim Kardashian excels and as a result she keeps her audience interested.

  1.  Keep it authentic.

People are interested in what senior business leaders have to say. How you got where you are, what you learned along the way, and what you think about the world. There are lots of ways to share information and opinions. And you don’t have to be provocative like Kim K. A more relatable example may be be ex-SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, who is on the board of Bloomberg, an advisor to Goldman Sachs. He is also active on Twitter (@ArthurLevitt is recommended as “must follow” by entrepreneur Marc Andreessen). Follow his lead and pick a few interesting topics that mean something to you and stick to those.

  1.  Publish content that is shareable

People are on social platforms to be informed entertained and to share. This may be the most important lesson because it is so often ignored, especially by brands and businesspeople. Dry, boring content does not get passed along and sharing is the name of the game on social if you want to build your profile, brand, community and reputation as a thought leader. So make your content interesting, insightful and/or inspiring and people will want to share it because it will make them look good by association.

Social media doesn’t have to be an enigma for business leaders. With a little focus and determination, anyone can all bring out their ‘inner Kim Kardashian.’

— by Janice Mandel, Principal, Signal Leadership Communication Inc.

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