Large brands are quickly embracing the concept of employee enablement across social media. Brands realize the tremendous payoff they can achieve: increased reach, better engagement and tangible results. Educating the entire employee base is one challenge, converting the busy senior executive into a true brand steward, can be an even greater undertaking.
At a recent conference Q&A, one audience member expressed her frustration in trying to get buy-in and commitment from senior level executives when it came to online participation. Here are the three most prominent challenges and the solutions you can use to help turn executives into successful social brand stewards;
Educating executives about why it matters should always start with the evolution of today’s customer and their heightened expectations. Executives are now expected to be present online and accessible. The expectation is not just from customers, it also comes from industry peers, trade groups, press, and prospects. The perspectives and “thought leadership” shared by executives can have a tremendous impact on many facets of an organization.
If you have executives willing to jump on airplanes and assist sales with out of town relationship building, help them understand the daily opportunity that lies in front of them. Seizing the power of social relationships can actually make them more efficient and impactful at a grander scale.
2. No time – Executives typically understand that “doing things right” takes time and commitment. When it comes to social media, they are correct in this assertion. While there are no instant gratification shortcuts, someone needs to help them learn the tools and practices to operate efficiently.
Executives already consume industry, product and competitive news. Show them a plan how they can turn this pre-existing daily activity into the foundation for what can become their content strategy. Then slowly introduce them to just one new social application each month. At this pace, they can learn through hands on experience, one of the most critical factors to mastering online communication.
3. Fear – For those executives that haven’t already created a strong personal online brand, it is very likely that they harbor some element of fear. Their way of operating, and their professional reputation has been forged over a period of many years. Social media represents taking risk and operating in new ways which can create a sense of fear and apprehension. Show examples of successful transformation demonstrated by their peers. And finally, help them find their personal inspiration for investing themselves in social, and conquering their fear. Inspiration for an executive could come in many forms; their competitive nature, a passionate interest, professional growth or gain, leading by example, or even personal challenge. If they cannot find an inspirational motivation, their interest and commitment will wane.
In conclusion, converting executives into brand stewards is often more challenging that it seems. Just focus on the three main obstacles and your chances for success will be high.