Why Inbound & Social Selling is a Perfect Match for the C-Suite

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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The prominent American publication Harvard Business Review brought great news for B2B and digital marketers last week: it turns out CEOs all over the world are using social media networks quite frequently.

Who knew?

According to numbers from a report by global PR firm Weber Shandwick, four out of every five CEOs of the world’s 50 largest companies are using social media.

This represents a significant increase, considering in 2010 only 36% of the same population of CEOs was “social”, defined by either having a public and verifiable social media account, sending messages to an audience from a company website, or appearing in a company video or blog.

The study reported that CEOs were most likely to appear on a company website, but when it comes to social media LinkedIn was by far their network of choice. Since 2010, the number of CEOs using LinkedIn grew by almost four times.

Why Executives are Using Social Networks

It’s not surprising that high level leaders in business – those responsible for directing strategy and arranging partnerships for huge enterprises – are using social networks. Research conducted on worldwide LinkedIn users shows that over a third of all users say that LinkedIn is “extremely important” for growing their network or developing their business.

On social networks, CEOs and other executives also get a chance to establish a strong personal brand. In the digital age, this is especially important: imagine an Apple without the tireless innovation of Steve Jobs, or Virgin Atlantic without the huge personality of Richard Branson.

It’s clear that CEOs and other executives are using social media at a greater rate than ever before, and the upward trend shows no sign of slowing down. LinkedIn’s stated goal is to have 3 billion users, which would represent over 40% of the world’s population today.

How Should Marketers Sell to The C-Suite?

The above question is deceptive, since savvy marketers understand that “selling” to the C-suite in the traditional manner is nearly impossible. It’s hard to reach a CEO or executive on a cold call, and most of them get lots of emails in a single day. This is why inbound marketing is so effective: it answers the particular questions and challenges that today’s executives have, instead of trying to force a solution on them.

This makes social networks an ideal place for B2B marketers who are targeting executives like CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, CMOs, and sales directors. However, the rise of popularity of social media networks and the low barrier to creating content today, combined with the huge demand on the time of business executives, means that it is becoming challenging to stand out.

Here are a few tips for marketers who want to use inbound to connect with high-ranking executives, both on social and elsewhere:

  • Know your buyer persona: the huge number of executives using social networks means that there is more information than ever before available about the things that they are interested in or the challenges they are experiencing with their business. Use this information to your advantage. Learn as much as you can, not only about CEOs and other kinds of executives, but about the specific kinds of executives that you are looking to connect with
  • Become a publisher of valuable, relevant content: whether you are looking to attract executives to your company website or you want to engage them on social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter, it’s critical that you are giving them what they want to hear. Keep up with publications in your industry and other media aimed to reach your target executives. Take your cue from these publications when deciding what type of content to create or curate.
  • Focus on the big picture: remember that CEOs and other business leaders probably aren’t doing much of the ground-level work for their company. In a large web development business, for example, CEOs probably aren’t very involved in the coding or design of websites. Instead, they are thinking about target markets, creating strategic partnerships, managing the company’s finances, and a number of other responsibilities that vary depending on the size of the business. You’ll get more attention from top leaders in business by providing content that helps with high level planning.

There are few places as valuable as social media networks to apply the principles of inbound marketing. If you approach them the right way, even the highest level executives will give you and your brand some of their attention, a commodity that is more in demand than ever before.

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