Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

In the last year, plenty of executives became more active on social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. These executives have used the professional networking platform as a tool to reach their consumers, prospects and employees.

However, as the accounts were generally run by their corporate communications teams, a common theme began to emerge: these executives ended up only acting as mouthpieces for their company.

What those teams and executives seemed to overlook regarding social media use is the fact that other users don’t want to see corporate statements, and are instead looking for authenticity. In order to feel more connected to them, authenticity is something that all consumers and employees have been looking for from their leaders. It’s the communication element that allows consumers and employees to learn more about their leaders, instead of looking at them like they live in ivory towers.

Authenticity can be shared through content, which is what audiences want to see from executives. This authenticity is precisely why people like Dough McMillon from Walmart or Laysha Ward from Target have been so successful on LinkedIn.

Another great example of an authentic executive on LinkedIn is Spanx CEO Sara Blakey. Millions appreciated seeing Blakey during her emotional announcement that she was gifting Spanx employees with $10,000 and two first-class plane tickets. People that have been following her for a while already know that the type of emotion she showed in the video wasn’t rare in her posts, and was definitely authentic. That’s precisely how other executives can show their real selves to customers, employees, and prospects.

Another example, as previously mentioned, was Target executive vice president Laysha Ward. Ward established herself as the brand’s spokesperson on the platform early on and often shared inspirational content. However, the posts that consumers and employees most prefer are those where she opens up more and shares details about her life, such as her post about her vacation.

Then, there’s Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon. Despite heading one of the largest companies in the country, he frequently shares personal content on the platform regarding his life, such as the time he received his COVID-19 vaccine booster.

One of the key elements that many executives seem to be struggling with when it comes to using LinkedIn is visual content. Specifically, photos of themselves. While there are a lot of people that don’t like taking or sharing pictures of themselves, executives should be doing so periodically. Those photos of them don’t even have to be from where they’re trying to share their best selves, such as the example with McMillon.

The last great example of authentic executives on LinkedIn is Delta CEO Ed Bastian. While he tends to share a lot of corporate information on his page, he also often shares content that presents his more human side, such as photos of his dog. All in all, content that showcases the personality or the life of executives is going to be the best way to strike a chord with consumers, employees, stakeholders and prospects.


Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.