How To Make Senior Executives Part Of Your Content Strategy
Your senior leadership team should play an important role in creating and sharing your brand’s story. They know what you’re trying to achieve and what it means for existing or potential customers. Unfortunately, they probably don’t do a very good job of communicating with this audience group for one of two reasons– they’re either ‘too busy’ or they ‘just don’t get social media’. Yet with some of the tools now at your disposal as a digital marketer, it’s really quite easy to make these people an effective part of your content strategy. Here’s how.
Start by identifying the social platforms you’ll use to raise the profile of key executives. If your target audience is B2B you should concentrate on LinkedIn and Twitter; you might decide Facebook is part of the mix if you work for a consumer brand; or explore Instagram and Pinterest if your business is focused on design or creativity. For the purpose of this post I’m going to focus on LinkedIn and Twitter because these should be the primary social channels for my clients.
Start by finding out which of your executives are happy to take part as long as you make it easy for them. Tell them they’ll be able to manage their social media output in as little as 15 minutes a day, and that it’s something they should build into their daily routine, whether that’s during the morning commute or at lunchtime. If they already have LinkedIn or Twitter accounts they plan to use, make sure they have high-quality photos and include some reference to areas of expertise in their biography. This might relate to your brand’s industry but it could equally be focused on a particular audience segment or even a topic you know they’re passionate about. Suggest some LinkedIn groups where your executives can be part of a community and start discussions.
The 80/20 Rule
A lot of companies get this far with convincing members of the leadership team to embrace social but then it all goes horribly wrong. The main problem is often that time-poor executives use these channels to blast the company’s key marketing message and nothing else. This is definitely content they should be sharing but they’ll never build any trust or credibility if that’s all they do. You need to teach them the importance of the 80/20 rule, which is that for every FIVE pieces of content they share through social only ONE should be in any way self-promoting. So if they’re scheduling five tweets a day (which is much less onerous than it sounds but I’ll get to that shortly) only one should be about your company; it’s the same ratio if they post to LinkedIn five times a week.
Where To Find Content
Some executives will think you’ve lost your mind when you ask them to generate and share this much content but it really doesn’t have to be difficult. I use Feedly and BuzzSumo to find articles for my audience every day but HubSpot has put together a really useful list of content curation resources that will generate tons of material they can use. It’s important that your executives quickly get into the habit of only sharing high quality content if they’re to build credibility. They should never share an article just because it’s on a key topic if they don’t feel it adds value to the discussion. As previously stressed in this blog, the focus of your content efforts must always be on quality rather than quantity.
How To Share Content
This is another pushback from busy executives I’m sure you’re familiar with but, again, there are plenty of tools you can use to make it a simple process. Personally I schedule five tweets a day through Buffer, which allows me to set the times when I want them to go out and can be topped up whenever I find a few spare minutes in my day. You can really be as hands on as you like. Buffer can also be used to distribute content through LinkedIn but only if you upgrade to the pro version, which I haven’t done. At the rate I post to LinkedIn I’m happy to stick with a more manual process. Here’s a nice collection of content distribution tools from Uberflip that will help you put together a strategy.
How To Measure Social Performance
It’s fair to assume your senior executives are a competitive bunch because having a strong will to succeed comes with the territory. I know somebody in the local IT industry who built a Twitter following of more than 130,000 after being challenged by somebody else to see who could get the most. While I’m not recommending you try to get your executives this involved, or even suggesting that it’s a good idea to build a list this large, a bit of competitive tension never hurt anybody. I use SocialBro to track how I’m performing and get an email every week summarising new Twitter followers and levels of engagement. LinkedIn automatically provides metrics at the top of my home page. Buffer has put together a great collection of social analytics tools you can use to get your executives fired up about social performance.
Your senior executives have influential people in their networks and should be among your most valuable brand ambassadors. Yet too often brands fail to make the most of this opportunity because these executives are too busy or don’t see the value in social media. With the tools available today it’s easier than ever to get them working for you, and building their own professional brand, without having a major impact on their working day. If you’ve always put this idea in the ‘too hard’ basket, it’s time to think again. All you need to do is:
- Pick social platforms suitable for your target audience
- Add quality headshots and areas of expertise to bios
- Make sure they keep self-serving content to a minimum
- Set up accounts to help them generate suitable content
- Make sure the focus is always on quality not quantity
- Give them access to distribution tools that make sharing easy
- Plug them into analytics to create some competitive tension