Should business owners be on social media?
The short answer is yes.
Do business owners need to be on social media? No.
There are also a few other questions related to this:
- How personal should your business account be?
- Should business owners be responsible for social media accounts?
The larger, and more corporate your company is, the more it will benefit from having the business owner also be present and active on social media. However, not every business owner or executive should be on it. Some people shouldn’t be holding the reins at all, especially if they’re prone to knee-jerk reactions.
For a small business or a newly started one, it’s possible that one of your many hats is social media manager. Maybe in the future, you want to hire someone but that time is not right now. This is totally fine! And many small businesses do start out this way. I always encourage people to start on a new-to-them network with a personal account just so they understand how it works; then, create a business account.
I don’t know how to emphasize this more: business social media is different from personal social media. There are always exceptions (e.g. you are the sole owner and you have a strong voice, or there is no one else but you). But for the most part, this is a pretty solid rule to follow. An issue I often see is that people will hire someone familiar with social media, and in this usage, they’re familiar with it from a personal perspective. They’re unfamiliar with how it could be different as a business. They don’t understand company voice, branding, customer service, response times, crisis communication, and so much more.
Sometimes, business and personal do cross over. I gave two examples above, and I’ll elaborate here. If you’re the sole owner with some employees and you appear on your business accounts often, then sure, let your voice shine through. But you don’t need to post photos of your dinner or your latest vacation. If you’re the sole owner and you ARE your brand, and your brand has a history of transparency, then it’s up to you how personal you want to get (I do not operate two accounts because I am my business).
Everyone else, though, would be much better off having two accounts. Elevating your personal account CAN help your business if you look at it like a personal brand. You can use it to establish thought leadership on LinkedIn, give behind-the-scenes looks on Instagram, and build up your (company) brand’s reputation on Twitter. It puts a face to the company, which can increase transparency and trust. You could also be part of a larger employee advocacy program where everyone is encouraged to share about the company.
There are cons to being so present on social media, too. Any social media mishap or scandal that involves the owner directly affects the business. And if you are easily offended by customer criticism, you should 1) not hold the keys to the social accounts; 2) not personally respond to comments; 3) work on this issue.
The most effective brand-business owner strategy would be that you have a personal account that boosts your brand account. The next best is that you add some personal touches to your business account (like maybe your interest in plants also appears in your business). And the third is that you occasionally write a business post and then sign off with your name and title in the caption.
I do think more owners could benefit from being present and active on social media, but I totally understand why more aren’t. It takes so much time, and if it’s just you, you’re essentially taking care of two accounts, two strategies, and twice the amount of content.