The line between social media and mainstream media is becoming blurrier by the day. Many social media influencers are becoming celebrities, and well-known business personalities are no exception. CEOs of prominent companies, like Gary Vaynerchuk for VaynerMedia, Andy Frisella for 1st Phorm, and many more are building massive followings using social media.

There are many advantages to marketing your business through a charismatic leader. Yet, as with most things, one size doesn't fit all. In fact, having your CEO jump headfirst into vlogging and creating a widely-recognized  personal brand like Gary Vee could actually be harmful to your company in a handful of ways.

So how do you know whether or not making your CEO an influencer is the right move for your company? Well, here are the pros and cons to consider:

Pros

1. People gravitate towards leaders more than they do logos.

There's a reason why many of the largest brands in the world have a spokesperson in their advertisements. People relate to other people more than they do logos. By having a likable leader your customers can rally behind and follow, traction is likely to come much easier than it would if you went the "traditional marketing route". After all, if the employees at a business want to follow their CEO, followers on social media will be no different. 

Spreading brand awareness is a key ingredient to marketing success, and showcasing a charismatic leader is a proven way to generate that awareness fast.

2. It gives your brand personality.

Because of Gary Vee's wild popularity, when anyone brings up VaynerMedia, we automatically think of words like "hustle" and "grind". Having a person as magnetic as Gary could make your brand immediately appealing to audiences even before they know what it is you sell.

Sure, you could hire a spokesperson who has the personality traits your team is looking for, but these people are always given a script to read from while a CEO influencer is (usually) being their authentic self.

Cons

1. It's not scaleable. 

Tomorrow, if Gary Vaynerchuk decided he was finished entirely with VaynerMedia, it would be a devastating blow to the company's finances. After all, what would The School of Greatness be without Lewis Howes? What would The Tim Ferriss Show be without Tim Ferriss? 

Once you have established your CEO as a social media influencer and people identify your brand only by their relationship with that person, it's very difficult to backtrack. Why? Well, it's the person the audience cares most about, not the company. This is exactly why personality-driven businesses are so hard to sell to private equity firms, larger corporations and more.

There are ways you can backpedal and begin the process of disassociating your brand with a public figure. One way is to start inserting other employees at your company into your marketing content. Consider letting one of your colleagues host your podcast or be the centerpiece of a vlog series. This would begin to plant the seed in the viewer's mind that the company is more than just the CEO. 

2. Not every CEO is fit for the "big screen."

In order for the pros listed above to have any impact at all, the person you appoint as your charismatic leader must actually be charismatic and likable. If the daily vlogs you're putting out into the world are stale, corny or just plain boring, they'll be more harmful to the way others perceive your brand than helpful.

On top of that, putting a camera on that leader at all times has its drawbacks. Much like politicians who have to carefully choose and monitor their every word, the leader will have to do the same.

A conversation out of context might lead to a misinterpretation that leaves a strategic partner reeling, customers upset or employees jaded. Lifting the veil on a company by putting it on full display affects all people involved, not just the CEO.

Molding your CEO into a social media influencer has a lot of benefits, particularly when it comes to brand awareness and inbound leads. That said, marketing your company with a charismatic leader certainly isn't for every company.

Before you jump into marketing your business like Gary Vaynerchuk, think long and hard about what's best for your particular situation. Best of luck.

Published on: Apr 23, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.