Why is Indian Leadership absent from social media during the world’s biggest crisis?

By Sheetal Choksi, Co-founder, CEO @ Wordhatter

You’ve probably noticed the increase in conversations as Global CEOs express their concerns about Covid-19. Twitter and LinkedIn are abuzz with messages providing advice, viewpoints, suggestions and support to their customers, employees and other stakeholders. What is disheartening, however, is that Indian Corporate Leaders are rarely making their presence felt, especially at a time when they are needed the most. 

Global CEOs across industries are actively engaging with their audiences – using both their personal and corporate handles. They are leveraging popular platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to highlight the role they are playing in the community, through personal contributions or though actions taken by their companies.

In a country that has embraced technology across all tiers and age groups, and relies upon it to nourish their daily needs, are our Leaders’ messages ending up as a wasted exercise?

Corporate leaders are sharing information on their partnerships with governments and other authorities to provide assistance in times of crisis. They are also communicating new products or services which will help them connect with their stakeholders and help assuage their fears. Each message shines as a beacon of strength, and displays the leader’s natural instinct to stand by the ones who have stood by them in better times.

In sharp contrast, Indian CEOs and Leaders, with a few exceptions like Anand Mahindra, Anil Agarwal, Harsh Goenka to name a few, are still following the traditional and officious system of communication, namely via PR and emails. In a country that has embraced technology across all tiers and age groups, and relies upon it to nourish their daily needs, are our Leaders’ messages ending up as a wasted exercise? Covid-19 is spreading faster than we can imagine and to keep up with its pace, clarity, speed and scale are the need of the hour. Communicating with stakeholders and audiences on social media is even more critical to keep abreast of developments and important news. Leaders who have built networks of trust online are better equipped to reassure stakeholders when it matters most, and to communicate directly with them. Social media enables Leaders to communicate with audiences one-to-one, and in real time. 

Here are 5 things that Indian CEOs need to do online, to build this trust for the future.

  1. Choose the right channels. Social media means different things to different people and herd tendency pushes us to the most common ones. It would also help to go beyond the popular to specific channels which your audiences may also be turning to.
  2. Build a strong social/digital presence and be consistent in your communication. It’s not too late to start but once you do, be sure to stay active on it at all times. You could always engage a partner to do this for you but make sure you go with a trusted one. Not having the right messages put out can be more damaging than not having a presence. 
  3. Create clear objectives, measure impact and course correct immediately, if in doubt.
  4. Be authentic in your communication. It will help build trust.
  5. Put yourselves out there. Don’t let the flack you face, if any, deter or perturb you.  The more you engage, the more impact your word and actions will have in the long run. 

This is a time of uncertainty. A time where hope is in short supply. Even if they do not have all the answers, Leaders can leverage their expertise and knowledge to provide positivity and assurance. Not only will this create a loyal following, it will also help renew the respect stakeholders have for the company and for the ones who lead them.