5 tips to get leaders’ buy-in on social media

Having trouble getting top-tier executives to sign off on internal or external social media at your organization? These approaches will shore up your position and deliver better results.


So you’re battling social media resistance among leaders, says communications guru Steve Crescenzo.

You deal with the chief executive or manager who grumbles, “I don’t need somebody playing around on an internal Facebook application at work.”

Plenty of poobahs don’t get it. Could part of the problem be that you haven’t made a business case for these powerful tools?

Speaking at Ragan’s conference on “Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications” at Walt Disney World Resort, the principal of Crescenzo Communications laid out five steps to help you get buy-in. You might also figure out your own communications goals in social media.

1. Always tie social media to the business case.

Maybe you love the cool tools, but have you shown why they’ll help your organization? Try creating a “strategy ladder.” You must demonstrate, in this order:

1. The business goal. One company’s goal during a time of turmoil was “to thrive during change.”

2. The communication goal, such as “to open up dialogue.”

3. The message.

4. The content. Will you blog? Create videos?

5. Measurement. You’ve got to prove you’ve done what you sought out to do.

“If you do this, and you build these links, by the time you get to [measurement], you can do anything you want,” Crescenzo says.

2. Start with something non-threatening and easy.

At MAN Diesel & Turbo SE, a Danish global company, a communicator asked employees to post photos on Instagram showing where they worked around the world, Crescenzo said.

Images came flowing in: a picture of bell that is rung at one plant whenever a new order is received, a photo from Dubai of workers riding their bikes home at lunch accompanied by whistles and laughter.

Employees loved it. It took off. A Pakistan office made a huge banner out of it and hung it in the cafeteria.

“There are so many things you can do that no executive in the world would complain about,” Crescenzo said.

Here’s another idea: Create short-term, “hit and run social media” elements that have an expiration date, such as the New Mexico utility that sent workers to Florida after a hurricane. A communicator went along to blog about it for two weeks, then it ended. Temporary means less threatening.

3. Publicize your wins.

“When something great happens on social media—which it will—make sure everybody knows about it,” he said.

At General Motors, where Crescenzo consulted, an employee posted on its Facebook-like Socialcast networking tool about his recent trip to a fast-food joint’s drive-through window. The woman behind him was driving a Chevy Traverse, so he paid for her order, explaining to the cashier, “Tell her that’s because she drives a Chevy.”

In the rear-view mirror he saw a smile light up her face. When he suggested that others reward their customers that way, more than 300 employees responded, vowing they’d do the same.

“Talk about employees as ambassador,” Crescenzo says. “What executive in his right mind is going to look at that and say, ‘That’s bad’?”

Then do like GM and call attention to such success. Create videos. Write stories for your publications. Spread the word.

4. Get the important people involved.

Verizon Wireless started using Yammer internally, but “it didn’t really take off until they asked their leaders to get involved,” Crescenzo said.

They started doing “Yam jams” in which company leaders or product specialists answered questions, and employees flocked to the discussions. Likewise, Mayo Clinic held Twitter chats about the flu, using a team of physicians sharing their expertise.

Tell the bosses: “Get on board.”

5. Coach your leaders.

At another company, Crescenzo was interviewing the VP of operations, who put up his foot on his desk and started telling funny stories about his area. Crescenzo tapped him for a podcast that became a great success.

“We’ve got to be talent scouts with our executives,” he says.

Communicators should avoid producing bad communications and corporate mug shots that leaders like, but employees ignore or mock.

Crescenzo outlined the structure of a great blog post: Start personal and conversational. Tie it to a business initiative. Use examples and mention employees. At the end, ask a question.

Oh, and have them read it out loud when they’re done.

Does all this sound like it will double your workload? Crescenzo has a time management tip: Stop churning out “corporate crap” that nobody reads.

Cut your workload in half, he says. Do less, and do it better.

(Image via)

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