Executives who have great social media profiles have been proven to enhance their company’s overall public perception; this is a documented fact. So why are so many executives in professional services still shying away from building their credibility and relationship capital on platforms like LinkedIn?
Irfan Jafrey is very familiar with this problem. He’s so familiar with it, in fact, that he’s betting on brand leaders recognizing the direness of the problem faster than executives can change their behavior. Jafrey is the founder and CEO of Roosterly, the startup that aims to confront this problem head on by managing content for executives’ profiles before their brands feel the effects of their negligence.
“It’s not that executives don’t care, or don’t want to be involved in building up their reputation, it’s that it’s still a struggle for many to consider social media just as high a priority as their more specific duties,” explains Jafrey. “We’re struggling with this change as a society – you can see it most clearly with journalists, many of whom still struggle with the fact that the President announces news through Twitter. I think in five years, maybe a decade, it won’t seem so foreign, but it’s a problem that many are facing.”
“Unfortunately for brands, consumers perceive a lack of social media presence as a lack of transparency and availability,” says Jafrey. “I got the idea for Roosterly after working with executives at higher levels within the professional services space. We did social media study on their habits. We found that a lot of them don’t understand social media, but it’s not just fear of new technology, which many would assume. A lot of hesitancy comes from a fear that they’ll put the wrong thing up, and get themselves or their brand in trouble. If you add that anxiety to an already busy workload, it’s easy to see why posting on Twitter and LinkedIn gets procrastinated – or outright neglected.”
The problem brands are facing is clear: consumers trust brands whose executives are actively posting online, but executives are wary and skittish. What’s a company to do?
Educate Your More Open Minded Executives
“Social media is very close, at its heart, to networking – the in-person, juggling your glass of wine with your business card kind,” says Jafrey. “You can’t scare your executives into doing it correctly. If you do, they may post more often, but they’ll appear disingenuous and robotic, which is the exact opposite of what’s needed to enhance your branding.”
If you have a small company and executives that are willing to learn, push them to go to seminars and classes about how to succeed in social media. You can host these yourself as a lunch-and-learn or meeting series, or hire a professional firm to come in and teach.
“You’ll get the best results if you really focus on what you can and cannot say,” says Jafrey. “A lot of executives, and even salespeople, hold back from using social media because they’re worried about committing a faux pas or landing in the news for saying the wrong thing.”
Research Options For Surrogate Authors
If you’ve hired a copywriter to author an article for anyone in your company, then you’re already familiar with this idea. Hiring a professional to take the reigns on your executive’s accounts is a much faster fix than training your staff, and can often work out to be less expensive as well.
However, beware the temptation to assume that social media comes naturally to certain groups. “We have a lot of clients come to us after hiring a new graduate to run an executive’s social media account, and now need to rebuild their reputation after a gaffe,” warns Jafrey. “While yes, social media platforms are much more a part of younger peoples’ lives, that doesn’t mean they know how to project executive level of professionalism, instantly understand the intricacies of your industry, or know who your influencers are. If you do go the route of hiring an internal employee to manage your executives’ profiles, it’s critical that you train them thoroughly so that they can accurately mimic your most senior members convincingly.”
A more popular option for many is hiring professional social media ghostwriters. Services like Roosterly pair your executive with writers who have years of experience in researching the needs of your industry – from how to talk about news events to which influencers rank the highest. An added bonus? While it may seem unintuitive, hiring an agency that specializes in executive social media posting is often the least expensive option in the long run.
Depending on your situation, either one of these solutions may seem like your best bet – or both. Only you can decide what’s best for your brand’s future, measure how much impact your executives’ activity – or lack thereof – on social media is impacting your other marketing efforts, and decide what the best path is. The main lesson from all of this? Your executives’ social media posts are often the first interaction that customers have when engaging with your brand. Don’t make them the last by skimping on quality.