On a daily basis, I hear success stories of attorneys, accountants, recruiters, and other professionals who have brought in substantial business through their social media presence. One client reports that their professionals actively using social media are generating 300 percent more clicks to their firm bios compared to firm members who are not active on social media. Another client found that content shared on social media by multiple employees received 20 times more clicks than those not shared through social media.
These results are substantial.
So why are companies having such a hard time persuading professionals to use social media? Where is the disconnect?
“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,” as said by the warden to Paul Newman’s character, Luke, in the 1967 classic, Cool Hand Luke.
Let’s look at the steps on the social-media-usage-ladder and address some potential solutions to help move your professionals up this ladder, one step at a time.
THE COMPLETELY IGNORANT PROFESSIONAL
We assume that some professionals are skeptical of social media and need to be convinced. This is imprecise at best and completely inaccurate at worst. Skepticism is not the biggest problem. In fact, if people are skeptical it means at the very least they’ve recognized that social media exists. The bottom run of the social media ladder isn’t skepticism, it is complete ignorance.
You know this type…The professional who is just completely oblivious to the social media world around them. Admittedly, my own father was one of these. Up until about eight years ago, my dad would have his secretary print out all his emails and then dictate responses for her to type up. Other professionals are just so buried in their work, that they never consider marketing (and they certainly never consider social media as a corollary of marketing!).
So how do we remedy this?
Solution: Start with where they are and move up in baby steps. Do they understand fundamentals of the internet like how Google works, how search drives help people find information? If not, start with building basic internet knowledge before diving into social media. Get them comfortable with the digital world and then build on that. Eventually, they’ll be ready for business development using social media…but not yet. We’ll get there.
I remember working with a highly influential partner, let’s call her Carol, who completely refused to create a social media profile.
“Anybody that needs to know me can look up my law firm bio. I used to be the President of the State Bar…I don’t need social media.”
The denier is the well-established professionals who know social media is out there, but they deny that it will have any influence on their professional career. Many deniers think social media is just for social/personal use. In fact, they may even keep in touch with friends and family on social media. The disconnect, however, is that they do not see how social media can be used to strengthen their professional, work world. Not yet anyway.
Solution: Use their own ego to make your case. With Carol, the professional mentioned above, we ran a Google search of her name and quickly identified that she did have a LinkedIn profile, but it was completely bare with a total of 10–TEN!–connections. She had completely forgotten she even had a LinkedIn account. Right then and there, we logged into her account and discovered there were more than 300 connection requests waiting for her.
“That is an incredible number connection requests,” I told her. “I think you have the record for the most I have ever seen.” After that, she was convinced that maybe there was something to this social media mumbo jumbo.
After that, she was convinced that maybe–just maybe–there was something to this social media mumbo jumbo.
Skeptics are perhaps the most likely professional to leverage. Skeptics are often the ones who ask the questions and make the statements that all the other teammates thinking. Skeptics have learned about social media, they’ve heard about the benefits and they want to believe, but they’re still not quite sold. They’re at the tipping point. Be grateful they’re engaged. You can work with a skeptic.
Solution: Often what skeptics need to cross over into believer status are knowledge and expert insight. Sometimes, success with a skeptic means convincing them to read a few articles you send their way with an open mind. Provide the skeptic with external sources they trust who can make the case for you. Harvard Business Review, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal–one of these is bound to be credible to the skeptic. You can also look for industry specific white papers or reputable blogs to share with them. Show the skeptic which of their peers–or better yet, their fiercest competitor–are actively using social media for professional gain. Skeptics may be closer than you think to becoming your next internal ally.
THE RELUCTANT PROFESSIONAL
“I’ve had a LinkedIn account for years, but it hasn’t brought me any business.”
I’ve heard this quote many times from professionals that fall into this category. These people are willing to have an online presence because they know there is something there, but they don’t do anything to build on it and to leverage it to bring in more business. I call this “the magic bean strategy of social media.”
image from bestcustomerconnection.com
Solution: For reluctant participants, start with their online profiles. Look at their LinkedIn bio, in particular, and make sure it is strategically aligned with their professional goals. Work with them to simplify and clarify their message so that people finding them online will know specifically what they and what type of work to refer to them. Reluctant professionals need a little help for their social media use to pay-off, but your time with them will likely be worthwhile.
SOCIAL MEDIA CONVERT
For these individuals, the light bulb has just come on. They get it. Maybe they have brought in a new client, or landed a speaking engagement randomly through a new connection on LinkedIn or a conversation with Twitter led to a new client. They are enthusiastic about the potential of social media, at least for the moment.
Solutions: Social media converts need to see results from their efforts. Show them data, provide feedback and give them continual encouragement. The first social media win can sometimes come in a fashion that seems fairly easy and straightforward, the second win might take more work. Make sure they have all the ammunition they need to continue to grow in their social media use.
SOCIAL MEDIA POWER USER
Every firm loves their power users and wishes they could duplicate these individuals. Power users write articles and/or blogs constantly, actively share great articles and content to their LinkedIn page and other social networks and have seen new clients, new strategic relationships and other positive results of social media.
Solution: Your firm will benefit by having a handful of these types–work to cultivate a few social media power users.Give your power users all the tools they need to be successful. Your social media power users can be your greatest asset in helping to convert reluctant professionals and the social media converts further up the ladder. Make sure the wins of these power users are broadcast far and wide to your organization.
Almost every firm I speak to wants to gain more traction from social media in 2017, but many of them don’t know where to start. Start by knowing where your professionals stand on the social media ladder and work from there to move them up to the next wrung. It won’t happen overnight, but you will see progress. Be patient. Take baby steps. And let us show you how ClearView Social can help every step of the way. You’ve got this!