For all practical purposes, it’s always reassuring when your leadership has bought in to your social business plan. After all, they are the ones paying the bills.
The real question: Has your C-Suite bought into becoming a social C-Suite? Your C-Suite must regard your social business strategy as business necessity. Your strategy must reflect how they transact business and consummate deals. That’s when your social business strategy becomes valuable and relevant to them.
Your C-Suite may represent your toughest social business customers in their journey towards becoming a social C-Suite.
How can you motivate your social C-Suite to lead your social business strategy if they are only giving it lip-service?
Turn your gaze away from your own social media dashboards and What’s in it for Your Strategy. Consider the social business equation from the C-Suite perspective: What’s in it for Them?
Your C-Suite is having difficulty connecting the dots between your messaging and their own processes and practices.
Here are 4 tips to get your C-Suite committed, creative and engaged in chatting the chat, talking the talk and walking that talk. Pave the way for their becoming a social C-Suite.
- Social C-Suite Tip 1 – Break down the “wide open spaces” feel to social business engagement. No matter what the size of your business: solopreneurship, SMB (small to medium size business), SME (small to medium size enterprise), startup. The majority of CEOs I work with regard social media engagement as a necessary evil. That’s why their efforts are erratic, sporadic and look and sound like they are throwing spaghetti against a social media wall, hoping at least something they say will stick.
To Do: Pick one social platform to focus on and establish your beach head. Compose messaging. Before you disseminate, determine KPIs on how you will measure effectiveness, traction and audience development – for starters.
- Social C-Suite Tip 2 – Help them find their voice instead of giving a shout out. I haven’t met one member of a C-Suite who would describe their style as “shouting out.” Most of these folks are extremely careful and composed about how they represent their company’s brand and image. Hence their reluctance to leave their company, and their own individual image and brand, up to a social media agency . They are skeptical about whether you really understand them, their philosophy or how their “voices” look and sound in the marketplace. I thoroughly understand their reluctance to participate in your social business strategy. Do you?
To Do: Let your C-Suite find their own voices. Conduct some interactive creative sessions with them. Send them chocolate to munch on while they are working with you. Make these sessions sought-after instead of dreaded. After all, if it’s not fun, why do it?
- Social C-Suite Tip 3 – It’s about their comfort level walking their talk. It’s not about your editorial calendar. Cut everyone some slack. If your social business strategy mandates daily messaging and your C-Suite isn’t able to follow that schedule ask yourself: So What? You work for your C-Suite, not vice versa. Consider how your social business strategy can benefit from periodic “exclusives” from your C-Suite. Otherwise what your C-Suite has to say may get diluted in all the rest of the social noise out there.
To Do: Work on creating a social media strategy focusing on CEO exclusives. You will be differentiating your strategy, and your company’s voice in the marketplace, in the process.
- Social C-Suite Tip 4 – Make your social business strategy into a new C-Suite podium. Your C-Suite is a group of communicators within their own domain area of expertise. Along with the chocolate and creativity in Tip 2, demonstrate how they can leverage a different type of stage and microphone to meaningfully engage untapped audiences.
To-Do: Social business strategy has its own set of status quo processes and practices. The first order of your social business strategy is to make sure you are offering your C-Suite fresh approaches that make good business sense for them. When what you propose seems like a natural extension of their own personal style, they will be more apt to take that first step forward and remain committed to your initiative.
- Your C-Suite isn’t as engaged in brand, image, marketing and customer loyalty as you think they are. They have bigger fish to fry in terms of logistics, supply chains and finance. Connect the dots for yourself, first. Your C-Suite will thank you.
- Start regarding your social business strategy as the vehicle for driving customer experience and customer loyalty throughout your SMB or SME. Make your messaging relevant, conversational and dynamic: from C-Suite to business street. Not everyone reading your messages is interested in job openings or your company’s latest technical achievements.
- The social C-Suite strategy becomes a conversation highway, internally and externally. Customer engagement starts at home and then journeys into the marketplace.
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes collaborative business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She is a management consultant and business coach for SMEs, SMBs, small and midmarket manufacturers and service companies, and technical startups. Her book on collaboration strategies and tools, Do YOU Mean Business? Technical / Non-Technical Collaboration, Business Development and YOU, is available on Amazon.com.