Resistance is futile... at least when it comes to social media adoption. Yet many organizations still have key executives, partners and players who avoid adopting social media like the Star Trek Enterprise crew tried to avoid assimilation by the Borg (the hive-minded semi-humans in the Star Trek Universe that forced everyone to join them.) Perhaps it's an appropriate metaphor, especially considering how many professionals continue to kick and scream before eventually adopting social media.
If you are reading this, it is likely because someone important to your organization would benefit greatly from social media, but hasn't yet taken the plunge. Their apathy may take one of two forms: (1) they totally refuse to login and create social media accounts or (2) they halfheartedly created a LinkedIn account years ago, but refuse to log in and are extremely passive in their utilization.
In attempting to persuade your most reluctant team members, it is important to start by understanding the innovation curve as explained by Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm. Innovators are the first to adopt new technology, then early adopters followed by the early majority, late majority and then the laggards. When it comes to social media, the innovators, early adopters, early majority and even most of the late majority are already ON social media. That last group is the toughest to convince, partly because they don't want to be convinced. Here are five tips to help you get them there:
- Show them examples of their peers effectively using social media. It's amazing what a powerful influence one successful baby boomer on social media can have to persuade laggards to join social media. The innovators and early adopters (remember those who bought iPhones when nobody believed Apple knew how to make phones?) do very little to persuade laggards. Laggards need to see true peers having success on social media before they even consider using it.
- Make it easy. According to Moore, most laggards are so reluctant to use new technology that they won't use it until it is embedded in technology they are already comfortable with. He uses the example of the last holdouts who would buy desktop computers but finally started using computers that were embedded into the automobiles they drive. Try to create a seamless experience where these laggards can use software tools (such as social media management or employee advocacy software) to make the process of using social media simpler.
- Make it safe. Fear of the unknown is probably the biggest impediment to innovation, though it doesn't have to be. While most fears are irrational, they still can be very powerful. Especially with law firms, accounting firms, and financial institutions, the fear of compliance violations and/or embarrassment can be very real. When you dig into the record though, while major social gaffes are extremely visible, they are also quite rare. In addition, they almost never happen by accident. By educating and informing laggards of the real and imagined dangers, they will feel safer venturing into this brave new world.
- Inspire them to take their genius online. A common objection to social media adoption from big-time professionals (attorneys, accountants, bankers) is that they get all their business in-person relationships- from referrals and from their reputation. These professionals will say things such as "I'm much better face-to-face." The good news for these people is that the two aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, it is far easier building an online reputation for an experienced professional, than a young 20-year-old that knows all the buttons to push to use social. Open the eyes to laggards of how they can amplify their success, amplify their reputation if they are willing to take the social plunge.
- Help them become servant leaders. According to Tom Peters, "organizations exist to serve. Period. Leaders live to serve. Period." The most successful users of social media are servant leaders. The more overused term is thought leader, but laggards will be far more persuaded by the concept of servant leadership. According to this concept, you don't share online to be seen as a leader, you share to serve your community. These leaders attempt to make those around them smarter. A common pushback is, "shouldn't we be worried about giving away our best ideas?" Not if you are more interested in serving than taking credit. If you are always giving and providing useful insights, you can never give away more than you will get in return.
Persuading laggards to take the leap and join the world of social media is challenging, frustrating and can often seem hopeless. The potential, however, of getting key people in your organization using social media is massive. These five strategies should help you get an edge or at the very least, change the conversation.
Adrian Dayton is the Founder of Clearview Social, an internationally recognized speaker on social media for business development, and author of multiple books and white papers including most recently the strategy guide,“9 Reasons Why No One is Seeing Your Company's Content and How to Fix it.”