The truly social leader is still a rare individual. Good examples of social leaders are out there, but they remain few and far between. 2014 research reported that two thirds of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social presence at all. And even those that are socially active have just one network. Even those CEOs who had made it onto Twitter were tweeting once a month or less.
When it comes to social technology, the “why” is sometimes easier than the “how”. There are plenty of reasons why leaders should get social – it puts a face to the brand, provides a place to interact with and listen to employees and customers, and offers real-time information. And, it still gives leaders the opportunity to set themselves apart from the pack.
What’s stopping them?
There are still myths that surround social media. Some leaders fear that social media presents a business or confidentiality risk. Others are concerned that employees will misuse it. There are even those that still believe social media is just a fad.
When it comes to the adoption of technology, both its ease of use and the extent to which it is perceived as useful factors in determining whether someone actually uses it or not. The one thing technology use really isn’t about, however, is time. There’s no doubt that most leaders are busy people, but like most things in life, if you want to do something badly enough then you will find the time – this applies to social media, too.
Here are five steps to encourage your leaders to get more social:
- Make the case. You can’t just tell people to get social, they need to understand why they should bother. Do your research and be able to explain the importance of the social world for them and for their business. Remember: CEOs and other company leaders are busy, so have your bullet points, stick to them, and you’ll have no problem building a strong case.
- Present the problem that needs solving. Part of adopting any technology is having a good reason why and identifying the problem that needs solving. Don’t get social just to get social – what’s in it for your business? What good will come from it? If you can’t answer these questions, then “social media” is likely to stay just another chore on an executive to-do list.
- Train them. The social world is still a confusing one for some, and not everyone is a social media expert. There’s a lot to learn in the social world – terminology, what platforms are hot right now and what types of content to share. If you want your leaders to embrace social, then you have to make it easy for them. It’s also helpful for them to see what other leaders are doing on social media to get a real example of what you’re expecting from them.
- Have a strategy. You need to be able to clearly articulate what you want from being a social business. Plenty of people are upping their social strategy – some because they think they should and others because everyone else is doing it. Know which platforms you’re focusing on, how often you want to post, what types of content you want to post from day one. This will help you focus your efforts and ultimately tie them back to your business objectives.
- Help them make it a habit. While it’s not an ideal long-term strategy, in the beginning you’re probably going to have to pitch in to make your social strategy stick. Whatever helps them cement their social practice is worth your time. Eventually, they won’t need this type of help, but putting in the effort early on will be worth it in the long run.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, when the successes from social come along, make sure you share and share and share them! Your employees will love sharing your CEO’s social messages.