With the increasing focus on getting everyone within a company to engage with LinkedIn and social media, most organisations are looking at ways to get their leaders and experts to use Twitter, sort out that tatty old LinkedIn profile (or indeed create one) and dip a toe into the world of blogging and online content. 

A bit of Googling reveals that there is lots and lots of help and advice out there, but it can be very very difficult to get people to engage with (what could be) a totally new world that is more than a little bit scary. The usual route to take is along the lines of:

  • Organise a Linkedin/social training session
  • Help/cajole/threaten people to sort out their LinkedIn profile
  • Help/cajole/threaten people to create a Twitter account and start tweeting
  • Sit back and watch as most people do nothing

There are exceptions, people who will pick it up and run with it, rock the social media world and start to see the benefits for themselves, but in general the problem boils down to a couple of things:

The status quo – everything is fine without doing something new, the experts and fee earners within a company simply don’t see the need to change the way they do things.

Benefits are not immediate – from your first day on Twitter to the point where you start to see tangible benefits, it can be a long and lonely process. Getting business from LinkedIn takes time and effort. Finding things to tweet and being consistent when you are getting no response is, if not soul-destroying, at the very least quite hard to keep up. 

They have nothing to say  - I think this is the crux of the problem  - It’s all very well having a Twitter account, but if you have nothing to say, why would you bother using it? How can you start to build a presence on LinkedIn if you are not contributing anything? 

Back to square one?

So we are back to square one – you now have a team of experts with half updated LinkedIn profiles, a Twitter account each with 3 followers and a general reluctance to ever try this sort of thing ever again.

What if we changed the process a bit? What if we found a way to help them have something to say before showing them how to say it. What if we turned the process on its head and started off by prioritising getting them to engage with content? I know that this can be just as difficult as everything above, but there are lots of different forms of content and not all of them require a lot of input from the expert. Whether it’s videoing them, asking for their opinion or insights on an issue of the day, or getting them to answer a couple of questions that you can write up for them, there is usually a way to coax something out….

…once you have it, that is the time to start looking at social channels, because at this point your expert actually has something with their name on that they can share or add to their LinkedIn profile. Given the choice, the majority of people would much rather share a piece that they have been involved with, than a link to an “interesting article on the BBC”.

Once they take the first step, you can help them along; retweet, repost and share their content, add it to your newsletter and above all make sure that you can give them lots and lots of feedback. If you can tell your CEO that 65 people read her post on LinkedIn and there have been 12 comments, or that someone asked a question that they should answer, it’s very likely that the next time you ask for a comment, they will be happy to oblige.

Once they have followers and interaction going on, that is the time to suggest that with so many people viewing their profile, it might be time for them to add a recent photo, a proper headline and the rest…..