Over the years I’ve discussed social media strategy with quite a few executives from large organizations. It’s no wonder so many approach social media with caution. They’re well aware of worst case scenarios, and as a byproduct, the majority of executives today still hesitate to play a highly visible personal role in social media, despite the best efforts of evangelists such as myself to drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Nonetheless, every major brand now recognizes the opportunity and necessity of engaging in social media conversations. And none that I know of are still relying exclusively on interns or just-out-of-school new hires to manage their programs. Projecting a brand presence into social media is a serious undertaking that requires communication skills, a certain amount of finesse, and common sense. This is where training and coaching come in, which is a topic for a future blog post, along with crisis preparation, which is the topic of a post I wrote that was published today in the Trapit blog.
Social media flips the status of big brands from their privileged position as the sponsors of print and broadcast media. Back in the era when email spammers were running amok, social networks were built to make it easy to filter out unwanted messages and block undesirable contacts. As a consequence, brands have become probationary guests who rely on goodwill to gain the public’s ear.
The public’s low-to-no-tolerance response to missteps by brands in social media is, however, the precise reason why social selling and employee advocacy, when properly lead and supported, are so effective: because sellers and employees generally get treated like peers, not like brands. And this is also why I believe we will start to see major brands pay a premium to recruit top executives with personal expertise in social media: because brands desperately need leaders who can become the human face of their organizations in social media.
I hope you check out my post, “Mitigating Risk from Social Media Activity after A Major Crisis.“ And if you have thoughts and examples for further discussion, please share them.
(This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.)