I work in the B2B market. Many of our clients are owned and managed by the entrepreneur or owner. These are not high-tech companies. They make things, they manufacture, they develop, they produce and they sell. By and large very few of their employees spend very much of their time in front of computers.
In the process of designing and facilitating strategic growth initiatives we are launching their product or service into a new market, or with a new product offering. There intiatives are treated as start-ups -- the same zeal, enthusiasm, risks and challenges. The essential role of social media is a constant theme. From online identity development, to brand promotion, to position the leadership as intellectual leaders in their respective fields. Our team develops, designs and implement marketing and sales campaign which incorporate many forms of social media.
But then there is the role of the owner. The face. The name. Often the brand.
And they are busy. Very busy. They are the brains, the brawn, the motivation, and the sweat that are pulling their companies into existence. As we have all read numerous times in many great books they are caught in the classic "working in and working on" the business trap. We all know the dilemma. (Many of us feel it in our own work)
Okay. Let me add two more variables: none of them are part of the "Internet generation" and they are mostly in rural areas with limited and poor high-speed Internet options.
I think that many startups in this B2B space have the same experience as the companies we work with. There are so many things to do -- how do you prioritize this "social media."
Heck, most of the entrepreneurs I know have a challenge reading and answering their emails. We want them to be reading the reports coming out of the CRM, approving expenses -- We think we can earn a commitment of 15 minutes a day of their time devoted to their own "social media."
So what should we spend that 15 minutes of time on? Polishing online site profiles? Answer LinkedIn requests? Answering question related to their field on an "online experts" board. What is going to be the best use of their personal 15 minutes of social media each day?
I know the type of leaders you are describing. Initially at least, encourage them to spend their 15 minutes per day REVIEWING and OVERSEEING the four hours or so per day that SOMEONE ELSE in the company spends on social media. As time goes on and they get the hang of it, they will naturally begin to participate more on their own.
Further to Dave Feyereisen's response, which I think is spot on, the occasional response to a customer, or post on wherever, as identified by the SOMEONE ELSE to have best impact. This should further encourage them to join in the conversations. The PR value of customers occasionally seeing someone senior directly participating is worthwhile.
Your clients don't need to become social media gurus to get real value from social media. You could suggest they start with some simple things: