Social media has become a central part of modern communication and technology, especially as younger generations enter the workforce. Today there are over 3 billion social media users worldwide (Oberlo, n.d.). Social media has become “a social lifeline” for many and is now a daily part of life (Molla, 2021). The influence and use of social media is a growing trend in today’s society. As social media continues to be a primary source of communication for many people, how can executive coaches use this tool to benefit their coaching practice? What can a social media presence offer executive coaches and what are some practical tips on how to use social media?
“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived...” - Amy Jo Martin
Benefits of social media
Having an active presence on social media allows executive coaches to stay connected with other executive coaches, clients, and business leaders around the world. The ability to connect and communicate with these different groups of people offers several key benefits for executive coaches.
Social media has the power to create meaningful conversations with current, prospective, and former clients regardless of their location. For example, consider LinkedIn, the #1 source for “professionally relevant” content (LinkedIn, 2017). When executive coaches have an active social presence on LinkedIn, they can share their thoughts on current business trends with their connections. These posts can spur on meaningful conversations between executive coaches, their clients, and their colleagues worldwide starting a communal well of knowledge and ideas.
Executive coaches can take advantage of the opportunity to create asynchronous meaningful communication by creating posts about topics that are relevant to what their clients are facing in their businesses. For example, coaches who are working with CEOs during the covid-19 pandemic can post information about other companies’ work-from-home policies. These posts can start a meaningful discussion between the executive coach and his/her peers and clients. If a media post is considered especially impactful, it can then be discussed in peer-group or one-to-one sessions as needed. Otherwise, coaches can introduce new ideas to their social media platform, potentially spurring on brand new conversations and ideas.
“You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them.” - Pam Moore
Social media gives executive coaches the opportunity to connect and network with other coaches and business leaders worldwide. Research shows that building connections with other business professionals has several benefits including greater “access to relevant information” and more “career opportunities” (Utz, 2015).
“Access to relevant information” can help executive coaches be aware of new training programs and conventions to attend for skill development (Utz, 2015). Furthermore, having access to information relevant to the executive coaching practice enables coaches to continually learn new coaching strategies and skills.
Having established connections can also produce more “career opportunities” (Utz, 2015). These opportunities can include new client acquisitions, speaking opportunities, and potential invitations to work with others on new projects and programs. By having a virtual network and increasing connections via social media platforms, executive coaches can ensure that they are learning new information and embracing new opportunities.
Having an active social media presence can also make executive coaches more visible and accessible for new opportunities. This is especially true for executive coaches just starting their own practice within an organization or as a private company. Social media can give others the opportunity to see what your values, services (executive coaching, CEO coaching, etc.), specialties, and outcomes are. Social media activity reinforces the visibility of a profile on many social media platforms’ algorithms. These algorithms decide what profiles and pages to recommend to new or already existing social media users. Active social media profiles are favored by social media algorithms, thus increasing the number of individuals introduced to the executive coach’s account. Being an active and visible participant in the social media community makes it easier for new clients, other executive coaches, and business leaders to find your practice.
Increased knowledge base
Research shows that those who use LinkedIn or Twitter have a greater database of knowledge and career opportunities at their disposal than those without social media (Utz, 2015). This database of knowledge can include information about the tools other executive coaches use in their practice, the current challenges faced by business leaders, and the findings of current research studies. Researchers Kind and Evans claim that “social media and online networking platforms are a key way to continuously learn in today's information sharing society” (2014). Executive coaches who continually learn new tools and strategies can better tackle new challenges that their clients face and change their coaching strategies to better suit different clients’ needs or personalities.
Social media also allows executive coaches to stay up-to-date with the current challenges faced by their clients and the latest findings from academic research. By understanding the current challenges faced by CEOs and executives worldwide, executive coaches can better tailor their coaching strategies to meet these needs. By staying up-to-date on the latest research, executive coaches can ensure that they are using effective and scientifically supported methods in their coaching practice.
“Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources…” - Sean Gardner
Tips on using social media
Because of the wide audience that social media offers and the impact it can have on an executive coach’s practice, it is important for executive coaches to use social media effectively. Consider the following tips for social media usage.
Consider what platforms best meets the audience’s needs
Executive coaches should determine who their target audience is, in other words, who are they trying to reach and connect with. After deciding upon the target audience, executive coaches should then determine what social media platforms best meet their needs. Each social media platform has its own purpose and audience.
Instagram is focused on photos and short videos called “Reels.” The average age of Instagram users is between 25 and 34 years old (Statistica, 2021). Instagram can give executive coaches the opportunity to create personal connections with their audience and encourage their clients between coaching sessions via posting impactful quotes.
LinkedIn functions as a social platform for business-related networking and connections. Executive coaches can use LinkedIn to expand their network, share information related to their practice, and connect with other executive coaches.
For executive coaches who wish to present new ideas to their coaching community, Twitter functions primarily as a place to share broad new ideas and insights. However, what makes Twitter unique is that the ideas shared are required to be short, sweet, and to the point in a post called a “Tweet.” Executive coaches can use this tool as a platform for their day-to-day inspiration and learnings.
Facebook offers users the ability to share videos, posts, and photos. Longer posts and videos are more acceptable on this platform than on Instagram or Twitter. According to research, Facebook is not the best way to share information and ideas because it provides the least relevant information to its users (Utz, 2015). Facebook is primarily for entertainment, not education. However, if it is determined that a majority of an executive coach’s target audience has a professional presence on Facebook, it can be considered a useful social media platform.
TikTok is a relatively popular social media platform. However, nearly 50% of users are under the age of 34 and almost one-third of users are between the ages of 10 and 19 (Omnicore, 2021). TikTok only allows users to post short videos with captions. This platform is primarily for entertainment and trends; not educational or informative content.
Each social media platform has its own purpose and strengths. Choosing the platform that best meets you and your coaching practice’s needs ensures that your efforts are effective and reaching the right audience.
Hashtags can help increase traffic to social media profiles by indicating the topic and type of material covered in posts. Executive coaches should use hashtags in their posts “to engage with larger conversations and to drive interest” (Co-Active, 2019). Social media users often search for topics using hashtags such as “coaching”, “quotes”, or “business.” It is estimated that an organization’s social media profile can increase post engagements by “50%” if they use hashtags (Slice, n.d.).
It is important to note that hashtags don’t have equal importance across all social media platforms. On platforms other than Instagram, using too many hashtags can decrease post engagement. For example, posts on Twitter that have more than 2 hashtags experience a 17% decrease in post engagement (Since, n.d.). Because of this, it is recommended that on platforms other than Instagram (where up to 30 hashtags can be used) only 1 or 2 relevant hashtags should be used.
Effective social media profiles and accounts have consistent posting schedules. “When you post consistently, the algorithms will favor your posts and more people will see them” (Hopper, n.d.). Just like hashtags have their limits, it is important not to post too much and run the risk of spamming your audience. Having a posting schedule reinforces the character of the posting organization and increases audience engagement (Hopper, n.d.).
When studying the top media groups and business brands, it was found that “the ideal number is between 5 – 10 posts per week as a brand” (SocialBakers, 2011). Other studies have indicated that Twitter posts should be made about 5 times per day (Lee, n.d.). It is also recommended that Facebook posts should be made only once a day, but not less than once per week (SocialBakers, 2011). Regardless of the platform, it is important to bring consistent content that is relative to the audience and coaching platform for greater interaction and connection building.
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” - Andrew Davis
Interact with others
One of the key functions of any social media platform is to socialize. Executive coaches can do this by commenting on others’ posts, responding to comments, and liking others’ posts as well. Doing this shows the targeted audience that the social media account is active and functioning. It also displays the character of the organization or executive coach as well. For example, executive coaches who respond to comments that criticize in a professional and kind manner would be seen as gracious and friendly by his/her audience.
Executive coaches who continually engage with other’s posts show that they are connected in the coaching industry and are acknowledged by other executive coaches. Interacting with other’s social media posts is a great way for executive coaches to display their character and connections in the executive coaching industry.
The main takeaway
Social media is a powerful tool for executive coaches to use that can inspire meaningful conversations, increased connection, increased coaching practice visibility, and increased knowledge sharing. Executive coaches can effectively use social media by considering the needs of their coaching practice and their clients, using hashtags, consistently posting, and interacting with other’s posts. When executive coaches create their social media presence they have the ability to interact with others and share their knowledge and experience on a worldwide level.
“Social media is here. It’s not going away; not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media.“ - Lori Ruff
CoActive. (2019, May 29). Why Coaches should "Get Social" on Social Media: Co-Active Training. Retrieved from https://coactive.com/blog/why-coaches-should-get-social-on-social-media/
Hopper, T. (n.d.). Why Posting Consistently Matters on Social Media. Retrieved from https://www.teahhopper.com/blog/2018/11/15/why-posting-consistently-matters-on-social-media
Kind, T., & Evans, Y. (2018). Social media for lifelong learning. Social Media in Medicine, 42-50. doi:10.4324/9781315619941-6
Myers, L. (2021, May 10). How Often To Post On Social Media: 2021 Success Guide. Retrieved from https://louisem.com/144557/often-post-social-media
Molla, R. (2021, March 01). Posting less, posting more, and tired of it all: How the pandemic has changed social media. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/recode/22295131/social-media-use-pandemic-covid-19-instagram-tiktok
Oberlo. (n.d.). How Many People Use Social Media in 2021 [Updated Jan 2021]. Retrieved from https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/how-many-people-use-social-media
Omnicore. (2021, August 11). TikTok by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts. Retrieved from https://www.omnicoreagency.com/tiktok-statistics/
Slice. (n.d.). The Importance of Using #Hashtags to Drive Traffic. Retrieved from https://slicecommunications.com/blog/the-importance-of-using-hashtags-to-drive-traffic
SocialBakers. (2011, April 19). How often should you post on your Facebook pages? Retrieved from https://www.socialbakers.com/blog/147-how-often-should-you-post-on-your-facebook-pages
Statistica. (2021, August 09). U.S.: Average age of Instagram users. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/398166/us-instagram-user-age-distribution/
Utz, S. (2016). Is LinkedIn making you more successful? The informational benefits derived from public social media. New Media & Society, 18(11), 2685-2702. doi:10.1177/1461444815604143
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