For a long time, the strategy for corporate social media was to identify a young person on the marketing team and put them in charge of managing the social channels. That was good enough for a while, but now that Facebook has one billion users, that junior marketing person is now in charge of giving their boss some (gentle) advice on how to up the company’s social strategy game. If you are that fledgling wizard, here’s how to talk to your boss about social media. (And if you’re the boss? You surrounded yourself with smart people for a reason, right?)
It’s Not Just for the Kids Anymore
So, your boss might have their own Facebook or Twitter account. Or not: social media isn’t compulsory during personal hours. However, if part of your job description is to market or provide thought leadership or make HR decisions, it is a good investment of time and resources to institute a professional social media presence. It could be as simple as a well-built LinkedIn page. It could be a Twitter feed that provides curated content specific to your industry. If the industry is creative or design-driven, a Tumblr or Instagram account might be the solution. Consider whether you — or a friendly content agency — could supply your boss with curated content to keep the feed(s) active and interesting.
Some bosses embrace their inner Luddite and have to be coaxed to social media. Some just added you on Snapchat.
One caveat: whatever you choose, go all in. Have realistic expectations about how much time and effort the account will require. Twitter rewards frequent interaction; a LinkedIn page can have a monthly refresh. Choose wisely.
You Don’t Have to Be Everywhere
Some bosses embrace their inner Luddite and have to be coaxed to social media. Some just added you on Snapchat. Some people are on all platforms and do it well, but that degree of engagement can be taxing and, frankly, a waste of resources. As the old Margaret Atwood quote goes, “You can die of exposure.” (Meaning: fame is all well and good, but promotion on its own doesn’t pay the bills.)
Who is the audience that warrants this outreach? If your boss is enthusiastic about social media, is that enthusiasm driving business or friendship? Help them parse where they want to keep their personal lives and where they’re acting as ambassadors of your company. Maybe they steer an active Twitter feed full of company news and curated content, but Facebook is just for friends and family. If your boss is a thought leader or otherwise prominent in your industry, it’s worth discussing where the brand ends and the human being begins. If your boss wants a clear division between their personal accounts and the company message, judicious use of privacy settings might be in order.
And if a social platform is a bad fit for your boss (either because of personality, content type or requirements for success), don’t use it. You may want to consider registering your boss’s name to protect the brand, but nobody NEEDS a Snapchat account. Don’t let any breathless marketing consultant tell you otherwise.
The Difference Between Work and Personal
What differentiates your boss’s Twitter from the corporate Twitter? Possibly very little. Ideally, a personal social media account should buff your corporate brand but not replace it. The best part of a personal social media account? It’s your personal social media account. Once you make the commitment, you can create something that is more human, relevant and interactive than many corporate touchpoints dare to be — just remember that there is supposed to be a real person at the other end of the social media handle.
If you’re wondering how to talk to your boss about social media, show up with a plan. If social media is garnering demonstrated results for your company, have those analytics spreadsheets handy. Managing up when it comes to social media isn’t actually a chore — it’s a star-making opportunity to show off your unique skills.
Because one day…you might be the CEO yourself!