The biggest key to executive engagement that I have found is personalization. Not every executive will interact with the social platform in the same way. Some will dive right in, some will need a lot of hand holding, some will want to blog, some will want to just comment, some will be consistent on their own, some will need to set scheduled reminders. It's really about who they are as a collaborator. One great tip is to work with their admins. Those are the people who work closest with the executives and probably know their working style best. Plus, if they become SMEs, then the executive has a built in help resource usually right outside their door.
Also, when I talk to Executives I usually tell them to start small. First, it's status updates. That way the people following them (of which there will likely be many) will have something to read and will help create value and credibility for the executive. Second, it's interactions. You can help them set up their streams and notifications and My Stuff so that they can comment, like, reply, etc. to the content posted by their peers and their team. Third comes content. They can start posting roadmaps, initiatives, memos, etc. -- and if they're feeling adventurous, they can comment on articles and post their musings as well.
A final best practice: scheduling a blog to post at a later date has been very helpful. That way, the executive can have a blog post at the end of a meeting or the beginning of a quarter, etc. but it can be written whenever it is convenient for their schedule.
Hope this helps!
One thing I've noticed is that the higher ups, as one would expect, delegate a lot of stuff to other people. Of course they do. But then that means their communications get posted by their Comms support team and it's not under the executives name or profile. Not all - some of them are really good about doing this and understand this. But if I go to the profile of the executive vice president of whatever to see his (or her ) authored content, there may not be any because - guess what - the EVP's comms person posted it so it shows up as authored by her (or him )
If I could coach them, I would let them know that every communication builds them up - their authority, reputation. It's easier for people to find if it's under their own profiles. It's tethered to them - part of their digital portfolio. They should not delegate it.
Or, even better, our friends at Jive ought to come up with a proxy-user functionality so that Comms Person A can be authorized to post under Executive B's profile.
I manage a travel booking system, and expense management system, and an e-procurement system. All of them have the functionality where one person can "act" on behalf of another - admins can book a trip or file an expense report or order a computer for their bosses. Jive needs something similar to address the need for executives to delegate along with the need for that content to stay tethered to the executive's profile.
Another thought (sorry for serial-posting) - I think executives are like politicians. The need to get out there and kiss the babies, sometimes even the ugly babies.
I would show them some very simple things they could do that would be equivalent to shaking hands and kissing babies. Clicking the LIKE button is powerful when it's an executive doing it. Not only does it model the engagement behavior, but it engenders a lot of good will.
So I wouldn't only teach them about uni-directional communications -- I would encourage them to spend 15 minutes a week reading and clicking LIKE or commenting on other stuff, and we're talking getting out there with the masses - no good-ol-boys-club only recognizing other executives. Get social with the constituents. I think the politician analogy would really resonate.
I love analogies in general, and this one is definitely relevant. Though I think a couple caveats are required what with politicians of this day and age -- social breeds open communication and conversation, so the executive needs to err on the side of transparency and honesty rather than omissions and empty promises.
Has anyone dealt with issues around risk in what executives are writing about?
Fear of class-action lawsuits and eDiscoverability if "accidentally said the wrong thing?"