As a savvy inbound marketer, you already know that social media is a must-have in your marketing strategy. You’ve spent time looking at what channels work best for your company, creating the best content you can for those outlets, and aligning the social media goals to the business' bottom line. You live and breathe social media every day on the job.
But that's not true for everyone else in your organization. Not everyone is sold on the importance of social media -- never mind manage their own presence. What about that VP down the hall with tons of killer industry knowledge or that executive you know who spends hours talking to customers? These executives may not be active in social media just yet, but they should be.
This is where you come in. If you think there are executives in your company who could add credibility to what you’re already doing, it’s time to get them on board.
Why Should Your C-Suite Be in Social Media?
Often, executives may feel like there's not much for them to do in social media. They hired a social media manager to watch over the company's presence, so why would they need to be in social media as well? Though some executives at your company may have already made up their minds about their social media participation (or lack thereof), it's incredibly important to have them in social media.
Having a presence in social media gives executives the opportunity to stay relevant with industry trends, engage with your prospects and customers, and show that they stand by and believe in your brand. By not listening and participating in social media, executives are missing out on numerous opportunities to improve your business. And ultimately, growing your business is every executive's objective.
How to Get Your Executive Team in Social Media
Getting executives in social media isn't as simple as signing up for a Twitter handle and asking them to tweet. Instead, you've got to be strategic if you want to get on board. By following these five steps, you can develop a socially savvy executive team.
1) Pick the right executives for the job.
Not every executive is ready to dive headfirst into social media -- and that's okay. Instead of proclaiming that all executives must start tweeting immediately, start off with a select few that you know would be successful in social media if you were to show them the ropes. Think about who would be a good advocate for your brand and have the potential to be a thought leader. Also, see how active they are in social media already. You may want to check out LinkedIn first to see who’s active already, since executives prefer LinkedIn to any other social site. This will give you a good indication of who to approach about helping build your brand in social media.
After you understand who’s been up to what, it’s time to think about your approach. Asking an executive who isn’t that familiar with Twitter or Facebook to jump right in isn’t going to work. First, they need to get an understanding of what's happening on social media for your brand.
2) Show them why they should care.
While 90% of business executives say that social media tools are important for brand awareness and company reputation, that doesn’t mean they're personally doing anything about it. This might be because they think they don’t have anything to add, they don’t know what to say, or they aren’t really in the loop with the happenings in social media at your company.
Here's your golden opportunity to show off what your company is doing and form a plan for what the executives could be doing, too. Invite the executives you identified in step one to a meeting to give them an overview of how your company uses social media and how it’s affecting the rest of the business.
When you meet, bring numbers that those in the room care about. If your goal is to get a seasoned VP of Sales involved in social media, you’ll probably want to show them how many leads social media generates for your company a month. For a VP of Sales, leads = perked ears. Figure out what gets each executive excited about being in social media, and be sure to highlight it for them.
3) Let the benefits get personal.
This is probably where to expect some pushback. I can hear it now: “But why do I have to be involved? Didn't we hire a social media manager to handle this?"
You want these questions. You’re ready for these questions. Now that you’ve shown the executives what the company is doing, you can show them how their social presence fits into the overall social media team effort.
You can prepare for these questions by giving them concrete reasons for participation: Based on a recent social media survey by BRANDfog, executive social media engagement creates brand transparency (score!). It makes a brand seem more honest and trustworthy (win!). And, it makes executives better communicators overall (bonus!). Make sure they understand exactly what they will get out of this new experience -- you'll be much more likely to get them on board.
4) Set them up for success.
So they're up for the challenge -- now it’s time for them to get down to business. If they’re hesitant to jump in headfirst, offer to get them all set up and give them a demo of what to do. At this point, you’ll know how much handholding is necessary for each executive -- use your judgment. There’s a balance between relying solely on executives' intuition and independence and losing them in the noisy crowd.
If they need help getting started, give them a couple of ideas of what to do. Maybe you come to the table with some sample content they could share or people to follow. Suggest some goals for them to aim for each week (X tweets, X Facebook posts, etc.). If you're a HubSpot customer, maybe set up a dedicated email alert in your Social Inbox. However you decide to start, make sure the task is fairly easy. The beginning is always the hardest and you don't want your executive team to be discouraged right off the bat.
5) Maintain momentum by checking in periodically.
At this stage, you’ve done some serious work getting your executives up and running. You’ve explained your company’s social strategy, the benefits of executive involvement, and the steps to get involved on those channels. You’ve given them all the tools they need to become socially savvy.
It may be a slow start, but every step is a step forward. Make future plans to keep the conversation going. One possible idea is to schedule a monthly get-together to talk about social media news and how they could integrate that into what they’re doing. Managing a social media presence isn't a one-and-done effort -- it needs constant evaluation and planning to maintain and grow.
Eventually, you’ll find the rhythm that works best for your company. Creating a socially savvy executive team doesn’t happen overnight. But with the right approach, you may start to change the way your executive team thinks about social media. And who knows -- maybe one day, your CEO will want to take over Twitter for the day.
Are executives at your company socially savvy? Are they looped in to how your company approaches social media? Let us know in the comments!
Originally published May 30, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017