With more consumers, especially Gen Z and millennials, crying out for brands to stand up against racism and equality, companies also have a unique opportunity to encourage their executives to use social media to advocate for the brand itself.
The reason? That’s where the market is. Three separate surveys indicate that there’s lots of social media activity among both B2B buyers and executives. 91% of B2B buyers told Forrester that they are active on social media, while 94% admitted to Accenture that that’s where they research before purchasing a product. And 82% of B2B leaders reported to market research firm IDC that they rely on social media on a regular basis in their decision-making process.
Brand executives who have been active on social media have been getting out news about the company and displaying a personality and face to the organization. The latter helps enhance the brand’s credibility and demonstrates the company’s innovation and forward-thinking. The best benefit is that it helps attract new growth and customers.
PR firm Weber Shandwick substantiated the above with a survey of 630 executives. 78% felt being on social media was positive for the brand, while 64% believed doing so would help find and attract new customers. Another 69% said it would help enhance their market credibility.
Last year’s Edelman Trust Barometer opined that the social media platforms shifted consumer trust from top-down to more of a horizontal one favoring peers and experts. Edelman also reported that 74% of respondents had high expectations that CEOs on social media would exemplify the values of the brands they lead.
Fear of the unknown has historically been a hurdle for some. For a few, social media may seem irrelevant, and the executive may need supporting evidence of its value and importance. Some executives lack an understanding of social media or don’t know how to use it. For others, the anxiety of misrepresenting themselves or the brand can be daunting. Proper coaching and training can take care of these.
Building and maintaining a social media presence takes time. It also requires sufficient content and ideas to keep it going, the time an executive may not have. One solution may be in having someone in marketing develop the content and prepare the executive in cases where he/she may not have enough time to devote to it.
The best approach for executives who are new to social media is to enter slowly with small steps such as liking or reacting to customer posts or resharing posts from other experts in the industry. Helping select networks that are comfortable for the executive to get started on are important. By easing the executive into social media and increasing the comfort and confidence level, chances of success are enhanced.
The final element for success is aligning executive expertise and strengths with topics that support the corporate mission. Marketing can assist with strong promotions about the executive’s experience and background. Armed with that success, begin thinking about an employee advocacy program next.
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