According to the
State of Community Management 2014 report from The Community Roundtable, members are more engaged in communities with executive participation. In fact, communities with executive participation see 42% of members actively participate, while those without executive participation see only 37% active.
Executives are Natural Communicators
Think about typical executives: they’re transparent, they’re strong communicators and they lead by example. Sounds like a killer combination for a community member, right? Yes. That being said, just like the CEO who needs some “101 training” before she joins Twitter, executives will need coaching on rules, conventions and guidelines for online community participation.
Have your community manager(s) sit down with executives to provide coaching around the following.
1) Share Content and Provide Feedback
Executives are used to commanding the ship and speaking to large audiences. Their first inclination may be to write lengthy posts, to share their thoughts with the community. While there’s certainly a time and place for that, the first step is to navigate through the various areas of the community and provide feedback.
The analogy is the President who walks through a neighborhood and shakes everyone’s hand. Executives should actively share content they find interesting. They should also provide feedback in the form of liking posts and up-voting ideas.
2) Blend in With the Crowd
At an in-person gathering, it may be difficult for the company CEO to blend in with the crowd. It’s easier in an online community. Executive participation is more effective when executives are perceived to be “one of us” and engage naturally and organically with other members. By engaging naturally, executives will gain the respect of community members and they’ll encourage non-active members to become active.
3) Perform Active Listening
Some executives have an open door policy. Others hold “town hall meetings” to engage with employees. Executives value employee feedback. An online community brings together the best elements of an open door policy and a town hall meeting. But for it to work well, executives need to visit the community often and do a good job of active listening.
4) Provide an Official Comment When Needed
An executive has the authority to provide an official answer (from the organization) when needed. In an employee community, perhaps there’s angst over rumored layoffs. An executive can issue an official statement about that. In a customer community, member unrest may unfold over a pricing increase. An executive can publish a blog post to explain the company’s reasoning behind the pricing change.
An Infographic on Coaching Executives for Engagement
The Community Roundtable created an infographic. It includes interesting statistics on the benefits of executive participation. You’ll also find tips on how to coach executives around online community participation.
Side note: DNN is a sponsor of this infographic.
How to Coach Executives to Participate in Branded Online Communities from DNN