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Social media is buzz-worthy, ever-evolving, and sometimes controversial; however, one thing is certain, it’s no longer an option but a necessary strategic tool that helps many successful brands and businesses excel.  However, according to a study on CEO.com, over 60% of CEOs and other C-Suite executives are still not actively utilizing social media as a communication channel.

We will be discussing “Why Leaders Need To Get Social.”  Joining the conversation is Jennifer Lewis-Ford, Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Digital Communications at BNP Paribas.  She specializes in digital communication and marketing strategy with a focus on digital adoption and coaching for executives.  She is also an avid podcaster and author who believes that social media should be at the heart of every firm’s digital transformation.

Why should social be at the heart of digital transformation?  

Digital transformation is affecting every industry, financial services included.  From Chat-bots to AI, everyone is looking at technology to find new ways to work faster and perform smarter.  While digital transformation means something different for every business, the one thing that all businesses have in common is people.  I truly believe real digital transformation starts with building a culture that puts people first, then technology.  At heart, we are all social creatures; it is reported that 67% of Americans originally get their news from social media.  Equipped with the right social strategy, social media can aid and expedite digital transformation and turn employees into powerful advocates that inspire change.

Why do leaders need to get social?

Social Media creates new opportunities for companies now more than ever before – from business development and employee engagement, to talent recruitment: it needs to start from the top of the organization.  In a connected world where your biggest differentiator is talent, thought leadership becomes an essential strategy for organizations to stand out.  People, especially everyone’s favorite buzz word “millennials,” want to feel inspired by leadership and work for firms that are transparent with their values and culture.  I believe this is why content created by leaders in an organization is 8X times more likely to be shared than content created from a Company profile.

 

What are some of the concerns that executives have about social?

The concept of Social Media has vastly changed in the last few years, but perceptions haven’t.  So often when we are approaching thought leaders about activating a social strategy, we have to first change their perception.  For example, a lot of people naturally think “Facebook” when you say social media, and we know it has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons.  However, now getting social could be something as simple as starting an internal blog to connect and inform employees.  These blogs could take many forms: videos, podcasts, or long-form content, as long as there is a two-way dialogue for the executives and their audience.

Outside of that I am also a huge advocate of LinkedIn, as you can see from my photo.  I’m finding that LinkedIn is often underutilized in B2B firms – as most executives still view it as a recruitment or job search tool.  It’s actually a great platform for leaders to share authentic stories, expertise, and connect with clients and employees on a more human level.

 

What is some of the advice you would provide to an executive just getting started?

I think it all starts with a great strategy!  We know the importance of being active on social, but it’s equally important that you identify the right channel for your target audience.  Data is one of the best things about social media marketing!  We now have massive access to social data that can help provide deeper insights into the right vehicle and the kind of content that would be most impactful for your clients.

Outside of having a great social strategy, my next piece of advice: be real.  Speak to what you know, what you’ve learned, or what inspires you.  That is the kind of content that drives authentic connections.

 

Why do you consider yourself a change agent?

I spend a large amount of time trying to inspire change and shift traditional mindsets in favor of new technology and social media in general.  I like to challenge myself and others to not just think outside the box, but to break the box.  Innovation is inspired by learning and moments of change.