According to McKinsey, the onset of the pandemic led to an almost unbelievable 10 years’ worth of digital growth over the period of just 3 months at the start of 2020.
Having given it a suitable dystopian name of The Quickening, they suggest that businesses need to reconsider their ways of working, reimagine their structures and reshape their talent.
Here at Tribal, we’re looking at things through the social lens and evidence is telling us that now is the time for business leaders to step up to social. The acceleration provided by COVID came on the back of an existing groundswell. The once optional online world is now a business frontier. If you aren’t active, you are not visible, and this has already become a critical differentiator when it comes to corporate growth and staying ahead of the competition.
Connecting and influencing online is not materially different to doing so offline. For many senior executives who already had long and illustrious careers, networks are physical, and you meet connections to shake hands and make eye contact. That’s certainly still valid but there has been an important watershed: we will never return to the way business was done pre-2020 and here are the reasons why:
- Digital networking and social selling have opened the working day. We now have more time, previously spent on travel for example, and can therefore maximise how and when we reach our audiences
- As new generations move into and through the workplace, they bring new communication styles. These will embed and eventually change cultures as these generations become our new leaders
- Social media enables us to tackle several topics at a time, thus building a rich picture of who we are and what we (and our business) stand for. Think about the burning platforms that are ESG, diversity, inclusion and so on. Our audiences and prospective buyers now expect to hear what we, as leaders, think and feel about these issues. While this might never be on the agenda of an in-person meeting, we can place it front and centre of our online content.
Time Is Of The Essence
We may have been forced to find a way to stay visible when the pandemic first broke, but business has always been about speed – whether that relates to getting there first, delivering efficiently, or exiting at the right time – and so it stands to reason that we won’t reverse this ability to make every moment count.
We can post and engage with five people in the time we may have met with one. We can catch a prospect’s eye without having to pass them at a conference or in a corridor. We can put a thought or question in their mind without needing to get a call in their diary.
Time – and speed – also becomes relevant when we think about trends. Take email marketing. A few years ago, this was the new thing. The way to stand apart from the crowd by getting a bespoke message straight to the inbox of a target. Already, we are experiencing ever increasing issues with our emails getting past spam filters or, if they do, being read, digested, and actioned. This is a classic example of a route to market that has been exhausted; saturated. It is now the norm and people want more than that.
Now is the time to establish your presence and build your network using platforms such as LinkedIn. This is experiencing a surge in popularity, but is still not overrun with active participants. There’s time to get a proven social selling strategy up and running and make the most of the benefits of being visible, engaging your employees as advocates, providing the thought leadership in your sector, and become the centre of the ongoing conversation.
At Tribal Impact, we look at social media and brand awareness from many angles. For example, we see that around 90% of our larger clients report improved ROI when it comes to using social selling and advocacy against more traditional marketing techniques.
Companies with active leaders are perceived 23% more positively than those with inactive leaders. Executive social media engagement results in higher brand recognition, higher levels of employee engagement and performance and an increase in trust.
Edelman’s Trust Barometer consistently shows the importance of trust as a business currency, especially given the general downward trends when it comes to trust in other institutions such as government. People do business with people they know, like and trust (to quote Bob Burg) and the more we can showcase that we are authentic and honest, the better the perception of our brand and the more willing people will be to buy our goods and services.
We mentioned earlier the fact that the new generations already have a new way of communicating and it should therefore come as no surprise that good C-Suite social engagement also helps to attract and retain top talent. People want to work for an organisation that walks the talk.
The most common barrier to leaders getting established online is time. That’s why, at Tribal, we help busy people get online quicker. By optimising your profiles, running kick-start programmes, and creating content which builds your reputation and establishes your social footprint, we help you to accelerate your online activity and see the proven benefits of doing so sooner.
According to Hootsuite research, some 70% of executives still believe it’s risky to participate on social media. That means around 30% are up and running and reaping the benefits of being early adopters among their peer group. Join them and we promise you won’t look back.