Some executives have long feared social networks, as if channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook were modern-day monsters. But now social media use is actually widely accepted among executives and increasingly common. As T-Mobile CEO John Legere explains in in a recent Harvard Business Review article, “social media has become a key part of my leadership strategy…much of what I do online is listen to customers, and social media is perfect for that.”
Sadly, not all executives share John Legere’s attitude on social. Some will play the part: listening, monitoring, and engaging without much assistance. However, others need guidance, especially as they start their journey into social. Although they may not ask for it, many want assistance creating professional profiles, learning more about these things called “hashtags”, and – oh yes – they will need help finding and sharing great content through smart content curation.
So let’s focus on that key item: the content piece. Here are a few practical tips for curating great content for employee advocates in the C-suite.
#1: Align Content to Executive Business Goals
Before curating content for executives, understand their goals for using social media in the first place. Sales leaders, for instance, might want to listen to and engage prospects, so they will want the latest research about your industry, customer testimonials, product announcements – whatever will pique a potential buyer’s interest. A CEO, on the other hand, might want to establish herself as a thought leader in, say, the digital transformation space. As a result, she might need a different set of content from the sales leaders.
#2: Build a List of Relevant, Interesting Topics
Once you understand why your executives want to use social, you can begin to dive deeper into your curation strategy. It might be helpful to create a list of topics that will be of interest to your executives and their audiences. A worksheet like this one can help:
As you create the list, remember that LinkedIn is a more suit-and-tie or business-casual network that ought to showcase professional content. But if executives are active on Twitter, they can blend the professional content with the personal – in fact, it’s encouraged. Twitter is a platform for people to add some colour to their social identity with some personality. For example, let’s say that your CEO loves photography. It might be a good idea to curate articles related to black-and-white photography.
#3: Go Strategic over Tactical in Content Curation
There’s a lot of great “how-to” content on the internet, and while some members of the C-suite will want to share tactical advice (like this post), many are accustomed to thinking at a more strategic level. So, try to find content that executives will want to read and share. Think: Harvard Business Review, PwC Strategy&, MIT Sloan Management Review, etc.
#4: Build Lists of Key Twitter Accounts
As John Legere said above, social media is a great place to listen and learn. Help your executives get started with social listening by creating Twitter lists for them. Here are a few options:
- Create a list of @mentions for your company so that executives can see how people are engaging with the brand
- Curate a list of key publications (e.g. Harvard Business Review) that executives might want to read
- Start a private list for competitors, as many in the C-suite will want to know what their competitors are doing
- Select key industry influencers and add them to a separate list
Note: A good employee advocacy platform should have social listening capabilities and allow you to create Twitter lists for your executives.
#5: Create Executive Summaries
Let’s face it. In an ideal world, executives would read every single word of every piece of content they share on social, but alas, we don’t live in an ideal world. Members of the C-suite are busy people, and they might need extra support.
To encourage executive participation in your employee advocacy program, you might want to consider writing executive summaries for them. That way, they know what they’re sharing, before they share it, without having to read 1,000+ words.
If you’re using an employee advocacy platform, you should be able to append comments to an article. You could use that space to write short summaries for the C-suite.
#6: Write Sample Messages until the Training Wheels Come off
Some executives will be scared of saying the wrong thing on social media. To assuage their fears, consider writing sample messages that they can use.
But beware: Sample messages can become a crutch. During social media training sessions, the C-suite should learn how to write their own social updates. Executives will be far more engaging when they show off their own personality.
#7: Provide a Good Mixture of Content
Social media experts recommend that 80% of the content pushed by advocates comes from third parties (other people’s blogs, news, interesting articles, reports, etc.). The other 20% should come from the advocate’s company.
Why’s that? If you share only your company’s content, you lose credibility with your audience. You come across as biased. By sharing other people’s content, you project expertise, not just blind loyalty to your company. Plus, you gain your audience’s trust and earn the opportunity to share your company’s content.
Speaking of which, don’t limit your company content to press releases. Remember that there are other types of content that executive advocates will want to share. For example, you might have employer branding content or social responsibility content.
Now it’s time to take social to sales and empower your frontline sales team to boost their capacity to sell through social selling. Download our eBook, How to Support Sales Through Social Selling.