Can one person drive more reach and engagement than their corporate brand? We put it to the test

Below I share with you the results of our experiment .

I’ve been thinking – and talking – a lot lately, about people-first social marketing. I’ve always been a big believer that your people play an important role in building your brand and helping deliver your brand message and story to your audience.

Every customer interaction with the people that represent your company brand impacts your company branding. What your brand ambassadors communicate by phone, email, via social media, at conferences and in one-to-one meetings shapes how your audience thinks and feels about your brand.

So if you think individual social profiles don’t impact your organisation’s brand, you couldn’t be further from the truth.

Last week, I had a teleconference with a marketing manager of a global financial services firm headquartered in London. The marketing manager wasn’t convinced that a ‘people first, brand second’ approach worked. When I gave a couple of examples – Richard Branson and Bill Gates – that I’d blogged about last month – who had built their brands from their own influence, she was pretty convinced that they were exceptions to the rule. How could a people-first approach apply to other businesses, other people, other brands, she asked?

It’s always good to be challenged, and as I walked away, I turned her question over in my mind. And – as is often the case (perhaps those Google-bots were listening in) – I happened to come across this article about the Top 8 most viewed CEO profiles on LinkedIn (thanks Chris Pash!). It’s a couple of years old, but a good proportion of the CEOs are still in the ‘most-viewed’ lists, and all are still influential.

I decided to put this article to the test. When it comes to social marketing, how does the reach and engagement of these CEOs compare, versus that of their corporate brand? Are the people doing a better job of reaching and engaging their audience on social media than their brands?

Note –click here to get the methodology and data we used.

Australia’s most viewed CEO’s on LinkedIn drove more engagement than their corporate brands

Almost across the board, Australia’s most viewed CEOs on LinkedIn drove more engagement, and in most cases, their reach was considerably higher.

  • Andrew Penn’s audience reach is only one-fifth of Telstra’s company page, but he has eight-times higher engagement.
  • Naomi Simson has 287x higher audience reach versus the Red Balloon brand and 52x higher engagement.
  • Ruslan Kogan has more than 50x higher audience reach compared with his Kogan brand and 29x higher engagement
  • Matt Barrie’s audience reach is over nine-times higher and engagement is 26x compared with the Freelancer company page
  • Craig McDonald has over 21x higher audience reach and 53x higher engagement, compared with Mailguard
  • Leon Heydenrych has 1413x higher audience reach than the Smartglue company page and his company page has no engagement.
  • Richard Webb has over 34x higher audience reach, and about the same engagement as his company page Startmesh.
  • Robert Rowe has almost five-times the audience reach of Unita, and twice the engagement.

So what? 

People-first works. However, it’s important to remember. ‘People-first’ is not about choosing to promote a person’s profile over the brand; don’t get this confused with personal branding. 

It’s about leading with a person’s profile as a brand ambassador to help deliver the brands message to the audience, and as such, build the brand.

Businesses are missing out on opportunities to build their brand more effectively, as the brand and people are interdependent. In addition, the people in the business can be doing more harm than good to the brand, when their online social profiles are off-message and off-brand.

Three simple next steps you can take to adopt a People-First approach:

  1. Know who the brand ambassadors are for your organisation (and who they should be)
  • Identify who your current brand ambassadors are (and who they should be, if they aren’t active at the moment). For example, scan through your executive team, sales/business development team, account/client management team, HR, and anyone else who engages with your target audience – and make a list.


  1. Audit their social footprint. Ask yourself (or get in touch with us at Binary M):
  • Is the relevant social network profile on-brand (or is there a disconnect between the persons profile and your organisation’s brand)?
  • Is it on-message (eg. does the person’s LinkedIn profile just sound like an online resume)?


  1. Review where social fits into the bigger picture within your organisation. A few questions you should be asking:
  • Does social fit in with your overarching marketing strategy?
  • Is there a congruent approach to using social networks across your brand ambassadors between who is (and should be) using it, and do you have a set of guidelines to keep interaction on the network compliant with your brand communications?

Need help in shifting your organisation to a people-first strategy, or just want to hear more? Send me an email or post your question below.

Some of the brands we work with include Dixon Advisory, Evans Dixon, Maxxia (A McMillan Shakespeare Ltd brand), AFEX and Carsguide to name a few.

Click here if you would like to receive the details of the data collected and methodology we used to measure reach and engagement for each of CEO profiles.

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By |2018-08-31T04:45:49+00:00July 24th, 2018|Social Marketing|

About the Author:

Tino is the founder and CEO of BinaryM. When he's not bouncing ideas around the office Tino is typically chasing them around Sydney on his bike.