It doesn’t matter who the company is or what they sell, an emerging issue with their social media seems to be getting the C-Suite to use social media. This is a natural issue. Many executives are usually more seasoned, thus not growing up in the generation that’s been exposed constantly to social media. They also have very little time on their hands. However, just because you receive initial push back on getting your C-Suite to be more socially active, does not mean that you should accept ‘no’ for an answer. Here are some tips that have worked for me in organizations as we not only sell the value of social media to the organization to executives but also bring home the importance of the executive themselves having an active social media presence:
I know I am singing an old song, but showing someone the value of social media is something that we will always need to be prepared to do as social media professionals. When approaching executives, it is particularly important to show them the value of social media for them. Explain to them that having a presence online will help them build brand equity in themselves, as well as in the company. Provide examples of missed opportunities where the executives could have joined an important industry conversation, or spoken up in a popular conversation about your company online. This will help to see why this isn’t just something your team wants, it’s something your team needs.
Everyone likes a little healthy competition. Pull together some examples of other CEOs in your industry that are successfully using social media. Illustrate how their effective use of social media has led to earned PR for themselves and their company. Once you show your executives that others just like them are taking advantage of the social space, they will have a hard time giving you a valid excuse as to why they cannot be on it.
Make It As Easy As Possible
Think of absolutely everything you can do to make it the least amount of work for your executives. Put yourself in their shoes and think of what you would be willing to do with not enough time and a huge amount of important decisions weighing on your shoulders at every moment. Offer to do everything from setting up the account to writing ghost tweets for them to approve that you can then send out. They will have a much different feeling about their social media presence if they realize it will not take the incredible amount of time they fear it will.
Now, to make the latter step work you will have to either have the opportunity to build trust with your executive team, or you will have to find someone who has already established trust with them and work through them. Take the time to get to know your executive’s tone of voice and interests before recommending that you write ghost messaging for them. Show them that you know who they are as a professional and that they can trust you to send everything they want to approve up for approval. I recommend even going to your initial meeting with your executives prepared with a doc of pre-written ghost tweets to show them that you can handle this.
This is where I see the majority of the mistakes happening. The social team gets the executives super pumped about getting on social media, and then once they are there and seem to be doing well, they move on to other initiatives. Yes, it’s okay to give executives a little breathing room once they seem to have a handle on things, but your job to encourage them to stay active and present on social media will never end. Even if your executives become completely social media savvy and take control of their accounts, forward them some useful articles to share now and then to keep the momentum going.
Often, in all situations, people do not want to be on social media because they do not understand it and fear what might be shared. However, when they can see the value of social media through concrete examples and know that you will be there to help them, the fear dissipates.
Have you been successful in getting executives online? Share some of your tips in the comments below!
– Marji J. Sherman