How to Get Your Executives into Social Media

Sep 16, 2021 | Branding, CEOs, Executive Social, LinkedIn, LinkedIn Best Practices, Thought Leadership

Struggling to convert your company’s executive leaders into active participants on social media?

    • 62% of surveyed executives reported their social media presence contributes to building their firm’s brand by establishing market leadership and credibility, boosting their firm’s reputation, and heightening overall brand recognition in the marketplace. (Source: Hinge – The Visible Expert)
    • 51% of global executives surveyed said a company’s leaders’ presence in social media and on the website was one of the key factors contributing to the company’s reputation.

The individual executives benefit as well. Their visibility in the industry increases, which opens doors for them, allows them to have a greater impact, and increases the number of opportunities they receive, such as being invited to speak at a conference or join a board.

Some executives already get it. They understand the impact that consistent, interesting content can make on their company’s bottom line and overall reputation.

In other cases, executives may have quite a few beliefs about social media that get in the way. These include:

    • They don’t have time.
    • They don’t know what to do.
    • They think social media is a waste of time.
    • They are afraid of making a mistake and looking foolish.
    • They worry that people will think they are bragging.
    • They don’t want to open themselves up to criticism.
    • They don’t believe anyone cares what they think.
    • They are worried about unintended consequences.

Before you can get them on board with social media, you need to address those concerns.

Read on for our five-step process for turning your executives into more active social media users, and join us for our webinar, “5 Simple Steps to Get Your Executives into Social Media.”

Step 1: Make a Compelling Case

When trying to convince your executives to lift their social media presence, begin with research to find examples of other executives doing it well.

    • Identify executives they respect who are using social media effectively — and safely. Who else at your company is active in social media, especially the senior leadership team and peers? If you don’t have many executives active, locate industry leaders from outside your company.
    • Compile some brand mentions, so they can see that conversations are happening with or without them.
    • Include competitors! This is a win-win regardless of whether the competitors are active or not. If they are active, it’s necessary to keep up with them. If they aren’t active, it’s an opportunity to gain an edge.

Bring data!

    • Cite data about the value of executive social. Good sources include Weber Shandwick, which has been publishing studies about “Social CEOs” and executives in social media since 2010, and Edelman, which publishes annual studies about trust and thought leadership.

Tie it to a passion project:

    • At the end of the day, your executives will base their social media decision on emotion — and then justify with logic. When you make your presentation, begin with the examples and data, then step into the emotion.
    • Tie their activity in social media to an initiative or a cause they care deeply about. What are they truly passionate about? What project, if successful, will create the most momentum in their career? Is there a cause that matters to them?
    • Maybe they are starting to think about their legacy, i.e., giving back, setting an example for the leadership team, or inspiring young people.

Identify something they care enough about achieving to be willing to try something new. And then help them visualize the outcome. If you are effective at doing this, you will get them on board.

Step 2: Crawl

Take a “crawl, walk, run” approach. At the beginning, given the level of their other commitments, you need to make the first steps as easy as possible.

    • Choose one platform. LinkedIn is where they will likely be most comfortable. It is a little kinder, more professional, and less demanding than other networks.
    • Define a minimal cadence — one that can be achieved consistently. Regular activity is the key to success.
    • Get them to agree to put 5 to 10 minutes per week on their calendar for social media.

The three easiest actions to begin with are:

    1. Ask them to share company news with a comment about why this announcement matters.
    2. Bring them brand mentions they can comment on.
    3. Identify other people’s posts where they can easily comment.

Bring them posts from employees who are excited about their first day of work or something the company has done for them. Identify posts related to their initiative or find posts from someone they particularly admire and respect. To really simplify things, draft the comments for them and let them modify.

In the crawl stage, you are looking to make it as easy as possible, grab the low-hanging fruit, and compile a few wins.

Step 3: Walk

When they are ready, take their presence to the next level. Continue doing much of the work for them so it doesn’t become burdensome, and they continue to see success.

Here are a few steps in the walk phase:

    • On LinkedIn, build out their profile so it tells a richer story.
    • Identify relationships they want to nurture, monitor the activity from those individuals and organizations, and bring them opportunities to like and comment.
    • Keep the volume low and the quality high.
    • Make sure they are connecting with the people they encounter in meetings and at events.
    • Start sharing their activities and news, such as conferences, podcasts, and speaking events.

Have a contingency plan if things go wrong, so you and the executive are prepared to respond quickly and appropriately. Sooner or later, a negative comment or grammar mistake will happen. It’s useful for them to have that possibility on their radar, so they are not surprised when it happens.

Step 4: Run

Start creating content specifically for them. Use the method that feels most natural to them. This might be a quarterly CEO blog post with their insights and perspective. It could be a monthly video in which they tell stories about employees or customers. Maybe it’s random thoughts that they want to share in an update.

    • Create an editorial calendar to plan their content.
    • Experiment to find the communication method they prefer.
    • Work on finding their voice.

Have a plan for amplifying their posts, whether that is putting a link in a Slack channel, sending an email to the team, or featuring their posts in a portal or your employee advocacy software.

Encourage engagement with other thought leaders and continue to bring them posts when there is an active conversation to which they can contribute.


Step 5: Measure

What good is an active social media presence if you’re not moving the needle?

LinkedIn makes it easy to monitor statistics like post views, comments, and engagements. Take it up another level by checking your company’s website analytics to see if your executive’s social media posts are driving traffic there.

Don’t forget anecdotal evidence. Monitor what is posted and how people respond. Collect comments and bring them to your executives.

Approach data collection with a learning mind — you want to discover how people respond, what works, and what doesn’t.

Review monthly or quarterly with your leaders and identify opportunities to try next.

Follow these steps, and before you know it, you’ll have an executive team that is consistently active and engaged on social media.


Need Help Getting Started?

At ProResource, we help executives use social media effectively. If you want to position your executives as thought leaders using LinkedIn, we can help. Book a discovery call today. Let’s talk about what you want to accomplish and see how we can help.


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