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How to Train Executives on Social Media

Social media has no place in business because it’s for teenagers taking photos of themselves with their breakfast, right?

That statement could not be more wrong. Social media, while relatively young, has become pivotal to business success. Companies must adopt social if they want to keep up and best serve their customers. However, a business can’t evolve socially without the help of their executives.

For the first time in executives’ careers, they are not the experts. Executives have advanced as far as they have due to their insurmountable knowledge and expertise. Now, a new misunderstood medium is taking storm and they just don’t see how it helps with their business. Executives sometimes look at social from the perspective of what they see at home: their daughters’ obnoxious tweets about last night’s episode of Vampire Diaries or their second cousins’ political rants during the State of the Union. These misconceptions make social business adoption difficult for executives because they cannot see how to use the medium outside their personal lives. Now, their employees often have more knowledge and understanding of the medium.

If you want to get executives on board, you have to approach social in a way that will relate to their goals. Executives are often looking for measurable specifics: revenue goals, customer retention, new acquisitions, customer satisfaction, and talent acquisition. Social media can play a huge role in all these aspects of business, so be sure to show executives how social media can be tied to these objectives.

You also need to recognize that executives are very time sensitive, so you must make the most of their time while training them on social. Be sure to get the most critical information to them as quickly as possible to intrigue them for further training.

Once you’ve identified what that critical information is, how can you get this information to really resonate? Make sure your content is relevant to the organization by using real-life scenarios (both good and bad) from your company. This will help executives understand what the company is doing so that they may embrace social media adoption.

While training executives, you must also recognize that executives are competitive beings. They did not get to where they are by being complacent. Take advantage of this competitive spirit in your social training and let it serve as motivation. Dell would display leader boards with each individual employee’s social personal brand statistics so that executives could compare them with their own. This healthy competition ignited executives to enhance their own personal social brands.

As you know, training executives is a very different process from training other employees. Executive training requires more 1-on-1 attention so that executives may ask more thorough questions that they may not feel comfortable asking in a large group setting. This strategy allows for individual rock stars to shine by using their skill set to help executives. For example, Cisco does a reverse mentorship program where lower-level employees train their executives on best social media practices.

We believe training executives on social is critical as your organization evolves to becoming a more social business. Executives are essential in ensuring that the right architecture is in place for your organization to evolve. Their understanding of the medium is crucial so that they may go on to lead, manage, and inspire your organization.