Leaders often ask me why they should dive into the social media pool. “What’s the point?” is a question that comes up a lot. I get it. Most leaders are on tight timetables and already feel as if the number of “hats” they are wearing is at least one too many. The idea of adding social media posts and engagement to their daily to do list seems at best challenging, and in some cases, impossible.
That’s why I reached out to Mireille Ryan, the CEO of the Social Media Marketing Institute, founder of the Social Media Marketing Summit and Social Media Marketing Awards to get the real scoop on what leaders should and should not be doing in terms of developing their digital footprint to both brand and build their companies successfully.
The bottom line, she shared, was that people want to do business with people. They want to know what a leader’s values are, what they stand for, and even whether or not they mesh with that person’s personality.Leaders have a small window of opportunity to take a strong social stand in the building of their brand. Don’t miss the boat. #SocialMediaLeadership #BeYourBrand @MireilleRyan Click To Tweet
Think Richard Branson – the living, breathing embodiment of the Virgin Airlines brand. He was really one of the first big leaders to step out from behind the desk and corporate boardrooms and into the social media feeds of customers, and potential customers, worldwide. He shared himself, his ideas, ideology, lifestyle, and an almost infectious entrepreneurial spirit with the world and in doing so helped to ignite a new thirst for consumers who wanted to know more about the people behind the brands they buy.
In the age of transparency and information – Richard’s example is acting as a wake-up call for leaders everywhere.
My first burning question for Mireille was, “How do leaders use social media effectively when their time is so limited?
That’s where the WHY first comes into play. She explained that today’s leaders need to first clearly identify and map what their goals and objectives as an organization are, and then translate how social media supports those objectives. What’s the why? Will it drive brand recognition, build a business base, and create customer engagement? Then, they can see that it makes sense. Once they know the why, they can then put a plan in place to allow them to execute a social strategy that is strong on results, without taking up a great deal of time. She assured me (repeatedly) that, with the right plan, leaders can accomplish their goals in just 15-20 minutes per day. Perhaps posting strategically two to three times per week – and then using their downtime (waiting for a meeting, in an Uber, on the train, etc.) to comment and connect with other thought leaders and followers. It’s all about creating some of those two-way conversations and benefiting from them.
You don’t have to be everywhere – or on every platform. Choose what works for your goals and go from there.In the age of transparency, consumers want to know, like, and trust not only the brands they choose, but the leaders behind them. #SocialMediaLeadership #CustomerRelationships #BrandTransparency @MireilleRyan Click To Tweet
Next question – how do leaders measure results? After all, just like in traditional marketing, if you can’t measure results, it’s tough to justify putting in the time. That all starts as strategy as well. In other words, posting for sake of posting isn’t going to cut it. Leaders need to think about what outcomes they want to produce from their social marketing and gear those online shares and conversations towards those goals with specific calls to action, invites, touch points, and follow through.
I loved the six-part strategy she shared:
- Make sure your profile is optimized well. (Really well!)
- Start connecting with the people you know, on the platform that makes the most sense for you and your objectives and branch out from there. (From a leadership standpoint, LinkedIn seems to be the most strategic option.)
- Start engaging with content. Share your thought leadership, ideas, offers, and insights.
- Work out a three-month posting strategy. (What you’ll post, how many times per week, and how they will serve your purpose.)
- Build an email list. (I loved the reference to VINE, which had influencers who were earning six-figures because of the platform, and then one day it shut down, as did those influencer’s marketing channel.) Social media is “rented property” – whereas if you can transition social followers into an email database, you can continue to market and connect, regardless of the whims, buy-outs, and ever-shifting algorithms of social networks.
- Watch your analytics. Most platforms have analytics you can track which will allow you to see where you fall in terms of success factors. Watch them – they’ll help you measure your results.
Next, I wanted to know how leaders could reach their ideal clients. Step one is to identify those ideal clients. That starts with asking some great questions such as…
- What does your best customer look like?
- What are the questions they ask the most?
- What are the needs your product or service answer for them?
Then you can build your content around answering those questions and appealing to those needs. Add in some amazing hashtags that will make it easier for your base to find that content, and you have a win.
Lastly, what I learned is that over the next couple of years there will be a window of opportunity for leaders to step out from behind the corporate curtain and step into a role of being a visible, social part of building their brand and encouraging their team members to do the same. In doing so, they will open wide new doors to building relationships, establishing trust, and creating the kind of customer connections that foster lifelong loyalty. Those leaders that embrace this opportunity will flourish, and those that do not will miss out.
A big thanks to Mireille for her terrific insights and strategies. Relationships, trust, connection, and loyalty all seem like extraordinary “whys” to me. How about you? Let’s have that conversation!