How do you get executives involved in your social media programs?

The success of your enterprise level digital community relies on a range of factors; naturally you need to have the right tools in place, you need to promote them effectively to intended users and you need to support them. But also vital is strong managerial and executive buy-in and involvement.

According to Gartner, 80 per cent of enterprise social platforms fail due to a lack of executive leadership or excessive focus on technology, demonstrating the need for support at appropriate levels of management. This is a significant statistic, meaning one in every four well-planned and well-meant social media initiatives, designed to improve working life for everyone within an organization, are let down by those senior executives who are meant to be the company’s leaders and visionaries.

But executives are notoriously not always easy to convince of the benefits of change and of new social programs – they are also time-limited professionals who don’t always have hours available to spend on new strategic communications tools – and are always rearranging their schedules. They will need to be convinced that spending 15 minutes per day learning new social media and collaboration tools is of more value to the organization than talking to a customer or networking with an investor. So what do you do?

Everyone has different buttons you can press!

One way to try and generate engagement and interest in your social media tools is to play on different elements of executives’ personalities. Your senior executives may have similarities to one another in terms of charisma, self-confidence, a liking for power and responsibility, and also an enjoyment of communicating their thoughts and opinions to a public audience.

So to gain their buy-in, you could talk about ‘personal branding’, virality and followers – words that are often mentioned when we discuss the big social media tools we all use in our daily, personal lives. By showing your senior executives that these are key elements of a good communication strategy and that with a good profile, a popular blog and perhaps some video posts, they can quite quickly and simply set up a well-liked social profile and encourage employees in their respective business units to get on board too.

The desired end product of this is that you turn your executives into ‘socialholics’ who are keen to use your new social media suite daily – and also that in doing so, they take the lead. That way, the whole workforce will understand that they too can adopt and use your social tools to promote their work and their own profile.

Creating virality through jealousy – an effective weapon!

So how do you go about all this? Well, begin by being subtle; pick out the most enthusiastic person in your executive committee and focus on making them into an ‘early adopter’. Make yourself a checklist with which you can get them on your side from day one.

  1. Help them to create their digital personal branding; but while being dynamic, also be sympathetic and give them a natural, fun and warm profile which has a human touch.
  2. Build in some video shoots where you get this executive to explain what they want from their role – what their strategic vision is and what they like about the company.
  3. Work with them to help them grow their number of followers by promoting their work and digital activities.

After a few months of this you will find that your executive’s peers have started to pay much more attention to their own personal branding and begin doing the same - and even trying to overtake their colleague’s digital activity and profile - so it is possible to use professional jealousy in your favor!

There are other ways to promote your social tools and the many benefits that they can bring to your organization or teams – another example is using successful external social campaigns as case studies to convince executives of their value. Or to convince younger, ‘digital native’ employees that your company is trendy, social and collaborative – that way you can even recruit the most digitally-engaged new staff.

At Orange we operate an enterprise social solution named Business Together Sharespace, based on the Jive platform, and we find that once executives are plugged into it and enjoying its benefits, other employees then join in. I think that by playing the ‘jealousy’ card you too can get more people involved and make your organization more efficient and productive - what do you think?

In the end, companies that encourage employees to be highly-engaged are 21 per cent more profitable and outperform their employee-unengaged competitors by 147 percent in earnings per share. So the evidence is there – get your employees and executives engaged and create a more productive and successful business!

To read more about the future of social collaboration in the workplace, click here:


Laure Van Der Hauwaert

I have worked for 10 years to promote and implement services and unified communications and collaboration solutions.  After presales, marketing and technical manager jobs, I am now Product Manager for Business Together Sharespace, our ECN solution, with the same enthusiasm to bring the technology to our customers with passion and energy.