The profile of LinkedIn's CFO, Steve Sordello has been cited as providing the definitive example of one containing all the elements needed by a CFO to build a robust digital brand, and to help a CFO position themselves as a global leader in the finance sector.
“The page has a strong visual header image featuring the LinkedIn brand to bring his profile to life," says Dani Matthews, Digital Personal Branding Specialist with LaunchPad Media.
“There's also a personal connection in his profile summary to help build an authentic digital brand - where he mentions he was raised in the San Francisco Bay area and grew up working in his parents' apricot, prune and walnut orchards," she adds.
She says that his 'punchy' experience section is brought to life with some video links.
Sordello's profile showcases him as a top-notch finance leader that could benefit any business that had him on their team.
His profile goes into plenty of detail about various businesses he has worked for, highlights his involvement in different large capital raisings, outlines his experience dealing with investors and plugs his technology skills.
Matthews believes other finance chiefs could take their lead from him.
While not strictly a CFO, she cites Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer as an example of a senior executive who has taken a strategic and active approach to building his digital brand.
“He embraces the social enterprise network Yammer to connect with Westpac's 30,000-plus employees," she says.
“He also has an active presence on LinkedIn and recently published a LinkedIn article to help find a data guru to join the Westpac team."
An article Hartzer recently published on LinkedIn had already drawn 515 likes, 49 comments and 191 shares, at the time of writing.
“He also engages really well with other users by liking posts and sharing regular updates to his almost 10,000 followers," Matthews adds.
However, Matthews believes Sordello and Hartzer are in the minority: meaning there's still plenty of opportunities for CFOs to build their brand, online and offline.
Start with a purpose
In Matthews' experience, the best place for CFOs and finance chiefs to start is to identify their digital brand's purpose.
“They may wish to become better connected with the finance sector or across other industries," she says.
“Another reason to develop a digital brand is to stay across market trends," she adds.
Other reasons to develop your digital brand could include: becoming a thought leader with the purpose of inspiring others; attracting top talent to your organisation; relating better to your team; and/or having the opportunity to experience firsthand how technology is disrupting industries.
As Matthews notes, a digital brand can also be a good way for CFOs to build credibility with a view to developing public speaking opportunities and share their knowledge at industry events.
“Once a clear purpose has been set for their digital brand, CFOs can then strategically choose which digital channels are best for them to use," Matthews adds.
For instance, LinkedIn may be a great place to start to build a brand.
Twitter, on the other hand, might be a more appropriate channel to connect with a wider audience and build a reputation as a thought leader by commenting on industry news and trends.
Even Instagram can offer opportunities for CFOs to share photographic messages about their work and life.
Says Matthews: “I think there is a big opportunity for CFOs to develop compelling content to educate and inspire others to action while supporting their business goals."
Once you have decided why you want to create a digital brand and have chosen the appropriate forums on which to contribute, Matthews says it is important for CFOs to keep track of their brand.
There are many ways to help achieve this, she says.
“As everyone's digital personal brand is unique, I recommend measuring and monitoring the brand's impact against the brand purpose, broken down into milestone goals," suggests Matthews.
One example she gives is a digital brand-building exercise that uses LinkedIn, with the goal of enhancing credibility and visibility - and to speak at more industry events.
In this case, Matthews says, checking your progress against your goals could involve tracking the number of new connections made from posting, and assessing what sort of posts work the best - and at what time.
“There are online tools a CFO can use to support and measure the impact of their digital brand such as Hootsuite and Buffer, which offer analytics to show what content is working and which isn't," says Matthews.
Other social media management apps such as Huloo can also help CFOs manage their posts and suggest trending content.
“It's also important to properly manage your personal and business brand. If a CFO is worried about misrepresenting their organisation on social media they can state 'my views are my own' in their profile section, which you will see in quite a few corporate profiles," she adds.
It may also be worthwhile for CFOs to check in with their Head of Communications to let them know they are going to start to develop content.
“I would also recommend a CFO follow their organisation's social channels and [like] and [share] content to help be an ambassador for the brand," she says.
Matthews' final advice for CFOs with ambitions to build a digital brand is to consider training to prioritise the process.
She believes such training can also help you create the space to think about your digital brand and do some goal setting.
“Don't be afraid to embrace social media, you may be surprised by the new connections and opportunities that arise," Matthews concludes.
- Develop a purpose for your digital brand, for instance generate public speaking opportunities.
- Choose the right social medium for the right purpose.
- Don't forget to measure the results of your efforts.
- Consider a coach to help you commit to the process.