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4 ways for execs to leverage social media better

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As a business community, we’ve tried to shame execs into being on social media for at least 10 years, and the results are decidedly mixed. Despite the expectations from employees and consumers, only half of the CEOs in the S&P 500 are on social media. Probably less than half that number contributes with any regularity to social communities online. Why is that?

We’re living in a moment when social media is widely acknowledged as a burden as much as a pastime. Even the most successful influencers feel it. Of the myriad reasons it’s turned out that way, the weight of expectation—to perform, post constantly, be a “thought leader,” sound smart, and be inspirational—is one. It can be crippling. No wonder some don’t even bother. You can’t fail if you don’t try.

Except that there are benefits to engaging people online, as some who’ve quit social media, only to return later, have realized. The lesson?? Do it on your terms.

If you want to make social media part of your career marketing plan but have doubts, here are four ways to trick your brain into getting it done.

Don’t treat it like an obligation

Execs are busy with full-time responsibilities of running their teams, making hundreds of decisions, traveling, and driving revenue (to say nothing of their hopes for a personal life). Treated as one in a dozen daily chores, contributing to social media will fall to the bottom of the list every time.

You don’t have an obligation to contribute to social media. Your marketing team or sales team might want you to, but the internet is doing just fine without your content. Hell, you’ve made it this far with minimal investment. And while your business might benefit from more social value vis a vis your personal brand, its survival in no way hinges on it.

This thinking leaves you free to pursue a more fun mentality—one where social media is a reprieve from your other chores.

Andrew Yang said something instructive in his book Forward about this. He struggled from not using Twitter to using it as his primary communication tool during his presidential campaign. He had a whole team of communications professionals telling him what he should post and when. But none of that motivated him to start building a brand and audience on Twitter. He had to motivate himself. He had to, in his words, “resolve to enjoy it.”

We tend to prioritize the activities we enjoy and bring our best selves to them. So it is with social media. If you don’t find a way to enjoy it, you won’t be posting for very long anyway.

Think about consistency loosely, on your terms

They say you get what you put into your social media presence; if you post sporadically, you limit growth, so most social media advice includes a mandate to be consistent.

Great advice, though framing it that way hews close to the chore territory that’s so debilitating. No need to put hard and fast rules around it, and you don’t need a calendar of posts and tweets for the whole year (sorry, marketing team) because part of the job is being responsive to what’s happening in your world, the wider world, and the lives of your audience. That’s where the best, most genuine content comes from, not boilerplates and rehearsed takes.

For the same reasons, you don’t want to be willy-nilly, either. You’ll get busy, stressed, and forgetful, and then weeks and months go by since your last post, and any momentum you had is gone. Some structure is useful, but only if it works for your life. You know your schedule, habits, and propensity for chaos better than anyone, but here are a few tips to keep in mind:

If the news is your muse for social content, try posting in content-consumption mode. It could be first thing in the morning or evenings on the couch with a glass of wine.If Fridays are a little lighter for you, make that your Social Media Friday.If you travel a lot, make downtime at the hotel your photo dump on Instagram.Find out which days and times on your chosen channel(s) give your content the best chance of reaching people and try to do a little more during those times.Produce for an audience of one

We tend to think of digital audiences in anonymous, abstract terms. “We should educate ‘the industry’ on this issue” if you’re in B2B or maybe “fans of the brand” if you’re in B2C. When we produce for no one in particular, it tends to show up in the content. The writing is staid and corporate, the photos are stock, and the engagement is paltry.

If you’re giving a consumer product update, think of a cousin or niece who’s firmly in the target audience and what would get them excited to engage. If you’re a B2B exec and want to get something off your chest, think of a colleague or friend in your network who will totally get your point, vehemently disagree, and challenge you to a duel on social media.

I once worked for a startup CEO who was pulling his hair out over recruitment. I just couldn’t get enough quality marketing candidates in the pipeline or couldn’t tell who was just an excellent self-marketer and who was for real. He published a candid missive, and 24 hours later, the post had gone viral, and all kinds of people in his network had reached out directly to either commiserate or offer advice.

Why? Before he wrote it, we discussed whether or not it was a good idea, and he concluded, “this can’t just be happening to us. There have to be other people in our growth stage struggling with this. And if they aren’t, I’d love to know what they’re doing.” He didn’t care if the post made him look like an exec who didn’t know how to hire people. He had a person or persons in mind—execs who’d been in a similar position—and he wanted to start a conversation with them. That’s why it was effective.

Take pride in contributing to one platform

Some execs never get started because they think the job is a lot bigger than it is. Their eyes cloud over as they previsualize posting to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram and wonder, “am I supposed to be on TikTok now?” and give up altogether.

As an industry, we’ve created a mindset that the more places you show up, the further your message goes. And that mindset has degraded social media feeds over time, where one person or brand posts the same content everywhere and leans back, satisfied that they repurposed content.

You want to be where the people you’re trying to influence are in critical mass, yes, but you also want to be where you’re most at ease with the tools, user experience, conversations, and dynamics (at least to start or ramp up again). It’s also fair to consider your audience’s propensity to pick up and share what you’re putting down. If there’s only one platform that meets all that criteria, then you have your answer on where you need to be.

Brandon Carter is director of strategy at Codeword, an integrated marketing agency.

Source : Quartz

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