Social Media for Senior Management

 

Picture this: You’ve spent the last few days working on a digital proposal that ties in your organization’s communication across channels. And when you’re done presenting it, the boss turns around and says, ‘but we ONLY want a social media campaign- ONLY Facebook and Twitter’.  *Cue for facepalm*.

Given our obvious love for the internet, you’d think the term ‘social media’ is common knowledge. But if the question ‘What is social media?’ was to be thrown in the Indian boardroom, chances are you’ll get varying answers ranging from a blank look to ‘Facebook/Twitter’ to the complete framework. More often, the blank look will belong to a pair of seasoned eyes while the definition will come spewing out of a young mouth.

If this is a familiar scenario for you, then you will agree that this has resulted in frequent adoption battles between the old and new-age sensibilities across glass cabins and boardrooms.

On one hand, you have young executives ‘listening’ to consumer conversations across the web and incorporating insights/new technologies to business communications. On the other hand, there are the seasoned business leaders battling a loss of understanding and discomfort at the insights/conversations and consequently interpreting them as ‘IT platforms and discussions’.

In such a scenario explaining and underlining the business necessity for social media adoption is turning to be a daunting task for young executives worldwide. What doesn’t help the case is that senior management believes that ‘social media’ is not for their product or for their target-audience or it’s a marketing-only initiative.

The Why?

As already established above, today’s Indian senior management is not social. It could be that the senior management is hesitant, misinformed or just battling lack of time. It could even be that some of them view social media as an ‘obligation’ that is best left to other departments rather than an opportunity to be grabbed with both hands. But, it goes without saying that, a firm grasp is needed for the below reasons:

For the Audience:

Knowing as the world is changing, is it possible to talk to the people if you cannot speak their language? If you want to be seen and heard then you have to go where your audience is. And today’s India clocks in at number 3 for its online usage (Source: Internet World Stats). That is a goldmine of user behaviors, brand perceptions and shifting user preferences that will inadvertently have some effect on the items sitting on your priority list.

For Information:

Given that the world is now a social-verse, it’s important for senior leaders to talk ‘social’ to be seen and remembered in the psyche of their audience. People are constantly browsing, searching, booking, buying and more on their smartphones or tablets regardless of where they are. And a senior leader with experience and knowledge on his side can add to this constant search for information.

This means he knows the brand, is more trusted for advice/guidance and is largely more capable of tackling any query/issue. This helps in brand building for both, the individual and the organization.

For relationships:

An added advantage of becoming social is the opportunity to network with like-minded people. Following the right people on Twitter or sharing a well-written tips post enables leadership to connect closely with consumers, recruit potential talent and form potential future partnerships.

For influence:

As this Nielsen study clarifies, online consumer reviews are the 2nd most trusted form of advertising in India. Brand websites, print ads, radio ads and TV commercials no longer are enough to influence user decisions. From this perspective, it becomes necessary for the new-age leadership to listen, monitor and engage with users on an immediate basis.

Consumers want quick action and any organization/brand that provides it owns the consumers’ hearts.  Also frankly, there is something very ‘positive’ and ‘caring’ about consumers conversing with the senior leadership of a company.

Overall now you know why you must be on ‘social media’ but now arises the more important question of how?

The How?

Step 1: Focus

Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ etc have all transformed into information hubs. It’s where brands that matter are spoken about by people who matter to the brand. But just because you have a variety of platforms available, doesn’t mean you use all and think ‘Aah now we’re safe’. That’s a classic case of having a finger in too many pies.

Read also: Is twitter right for my business

It’s necessary to identify what level of engagement on what platform works best for YOUR business.  Once narrowed, focus on them to build a brand experience for your community.

Step 2: Invest

Invest in new people, tools and new technologies to monitor and analyze your social presence. Encourage other senior leaders to participate in the social-verse with workshops/trainings to ease any hiccups or overcome reservations.  Create a social plan to search, monitor and source the Web for information. Set aside an hour daily to read, respond and build resources.

Include links to Twitter, blogs and other information on that email signature or on that business card to drive home the impression of a ‘social’ guy.

Step 3: Speak Up

Turn into knowledge experts and share with the future leaders -both inside and outside the organization- via social.  Through knowledge-sharing, senior leaders help breed trust and familiarity amongst the users about the organization.

Discuss case studies, success stories, views/opinions on latest industry trends/happenings.  Where earlier you would send an appreciative email to an employee, now tweet it. Public appreciation is always welcomed and means more, much more.

Step 4: Make Social Personal

All work and no play makes you a bore and me sleepy. Adding a personality, a human touch to social profiles helps establish a ‘fun’ element for you and your followers. Follow up on interests, write about your passions outside of work, set up a photo gallery, play games, create a playlist or download e-books. With social media, you need not wait for the weekends to relax and rejuvenate yourself.

To sum up, given our penchant for everything tradition and culture, this loyalty to doing-things-the-old-way has also literally transcribed itself to our business processes and communications. This, despite, 65% of our population being under 35 (source: Wikipedia)!

But when the largest democracy in the world has access to the unlimited online world with its far and wide reach, then it becomes imperative for Indian businesses to listen to these conversations. And it doesn’t take much to understand that as the internet penetrates new regions and devices, the circle of users opining and talking only grows bigger.

While you may have a list of risks posed by social media to your business, let me assure you that the risks of not being on social media are higher. How much longer can you afford to ignore?

Image Source- www.adigaskell.org

 
When not dueling with digital media skeptics, Hardeep spends her day chasing the joy of life. A self-professed drama-queen and words-worshiper, Hardeep also poses as an undercover-writer. Hardeep currently works at Edelman India Digital, where they haven't managed to get rid of her given her penchant for random theatrics. If in a mood to bore/torture yourself, then tweet to her @hardeepkrai
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