You’ve already implemented your enterprise social network and a community is starting to flourish. Awesome! Only one problem: your executives aren’t convinced. Dubious execs can slow the momentum of the enterprise social network, so it’s crucial to make sure that you get full backing from your higher ups. So how can you win your executives around? Follow these steps.
1. Demonstrate the value
Continue to reinforce the value of the enterprise social network even after it has been implemented. Reminding your executives that there’s a reason why they signed off on it in the first place will help them to see successes for themselves. Show them how the enterprise social network is already showing results based on the metrics you outlined in your proposal. That could be increased engagement, better collaboration or reduction in email. Make sure you tie these back to core business values. Results will erode their scepticism, the first step towards getting them to participate.
2. Identify influential early adopters
Not all your execs will be sceptics, so identify influential people who are engaged with the enterprise social network or have at least expressed an interest in it. Provide these people with one-on-one training to get them to advanced level knowledge. These influencers will help to push other execs towards the platform and will act as an example for others to follow. Research shows that the higher a user is in the business hierarchy, the more interaction happens with their posts on social networks. When other execs see the high level of engagement with a peer, they are more likely to want to try it for themselves.
3. Mentor and advise personal goals
Invest time in mentoring your execs. Start up a reverse-mentoring programme in which less senior employees coach execs on how to communicate with social tools (likely, some execs won’t be familiar with social tools of any kind). Start small: teach them to consume the activity stream and like content. Commenting, blogging and microblogging will come later. Remember that execs have very little time to commit to learning a new process, so try to make it as effortless as possible. Set them up with one thing to do regularly, such as spend five minutes each morning checking the activity stream, or like three pieces of content a week. Most importantly, don’t expect too much to soon.
4. Empower their assistants
Administrative or executive assistants can help to listen out on the enterprise social network and identify themes and discussions that their execs can get involved in. They can effectively act as information seekers, and can even suggest responses from execs. As long as the assistants fully understand both the goals of the execs and the goals of the enterprise social network, they will positively impact an exec’s interactions with the network and can encourage them to participate and see the value.
Winning your executives around is key to ensuring that your enterprise social network becomes fully integrated into the way your organisation runs. The more your execs get involved in the network, the more likely the rest of the staff will engage, so ensure you follow the steps to get your execs involved. They can be the most difficult people to convince, so remember to be persistent! And always show positive results.