Activating the C-Suite on LinkedIn: Dispelling Your Leadership’s Myths and Misconceptions
BY Bill Conn
March 12, 2024

Take a look at your LinkedIn feed right now. If it’s anything like mine, the variety and volume of content you see is significantly different than it was just six months or a year ago. It’s more creative, faster moving, keeps you on the platform vs. linking out, and demands deeper levels of personalization to attract attention. The days of writing two boring sentences and linking to your whitepaper are dead. Long live humanity, imperfection and true connection.

Yes, even in the B2B space. Maybe especially in B2B, where differentiation through products and services alone can be hard to come by.

This new paradigm on LinkedIn can be offputting to many in the C-suite. It’s messy, can feel less serious and riskier than we’re used to, time-consuming,  and difficult to measure. Many executives, especially in the higher echelons of an organization, simply opt out. 

In our recent report, “The State of B2B Buyer Preferences in 2024: The Great Content Marketing Disconnect,” 63 percent of marketers agreed that social media is their most important distribution channel. And yet, most aren’t able to pull one of the biggest levers they have—the voices of their executives—likely because the idea of participating feels daunting.

Here’s what we hear most frequently when trying to activate the C-suite in these environments, and some of the counterpoints that have helped to open leadership’s eyes to the value of their ongoing presence.

Objection: “I’m too busy and focused on my ‘real’ role to spend time on LinkedIn.” 

Reality: 45 minutes of C-suite time can yield months of high-quality content.

Nothing about this objection is untrue. Your leaders should be moving a million miles a minute to help the organization meet its goals. And they’re also correct in their understanding that social media and content creation take time … time that they typically don’t have available.

However, there’s a disconnect in thinking that their lack of time means you, as the marketer, can’t capture your leaders’ voices on LinkedIn. If you can pin down a leader on a 30- to 45-minute call, you can capture a ton of great content. 

The solution 

  • Create a discussion guide before the meeting: This should be 10 finely-tuned questions that get right to the crux of what you want to share on LinkedIn. Share it with them early.
  • Record the meeting: With permission from the leader, of course. Recording the meeting—both audio and video—gives you a ton of sound bites, clips and blog fodder that you can stretch out for months and reshare months later.
  • Butter up their executive assistant: You’ll work more with them than you will the leaders themselves. This person may even have the keys to your leader’s LinkedIn account, and the trust to be able to post your content on their behalf.

Objection: “I posted something this week and the leads are weak.”

Reality: Keep in mind the difference between “demand gen” and “lead gen” on LinkedIn.

We hear this objection a lot. I had an executive call me the day after one of his LinkedIn posts went live, and we looked at the engagement and comments he received. One comment was from a friend of his, the other one was a vendor trying to sell him something, and all the rest were not quite right for one reason or another.

I get what he was feeling: We spent time creating the content together, and he wanted an immediate ROI on that time. However, social and LinkedIn don’t work that way, and much of what happens through these channels is falling into the “dark social” realm now.

The solution

It’s always helpful to have a few talking points ready to illustrate for the C-suite the difference between lead generation (converting brand-aware prospects into customers) and demand generation (generating brand awareness and interest in your products and services). LinkedIn, especially in the early stages of your leadership’s activity, will be primarily a demand-gen activity. Remember, only 3 to 5 percent of your audience is actively shopping at any given time; an executive’s social media presence is a play to the other 95 percent.

Few leaders understand or appreciate this nuance.

Objection: “Posting once a week really won’t move the dial—let’s go bigger.”

Reality: Starting small and posting regularly is more important.

Last summer, I tried to grow tomatoes in the garden. We hit a dry spell and I didn’t water enough, and then we got a ton of rain. All of the tomatoes swelled and split their skins, ruining my hard work.

Many executives who agree to LinkedIn suffer this same fate. They come out of the gate strong, post every day or multiple times for a week or two, and then slide back into their radio-silence old habits. Like those split tomatoes, the end product is not great.

The solution

We usually start with executives who are pursuing a beefed-up LinkedIn presence with a goal of one post a week. Even this cadence can be daunting when availability and the need for approval get in the way. You can mitigate some of the inevitable lag by:

    • Prioritizing engagement over original posts in the beginning: Commenting and sharing are much lower bars, especially for leaders who are establishing a bigger LinkedIn presence. Identify a list of B2B influencers in your industry and have your leader get in the mix (or do it for them). You’ll reap benefits with the humans involved, as well as the algorithms driving exposure on the platform.
    • Building out a quarterly calendar: This creates visibility into your plans and makes buy-in easier. Quarterly is ideal: Any shorter and you have to back to the thought-leadership well too soon; any longer and the leader’s insights may become too stale.
    • Creating and queuing more than one post: Ideally, you’ll have the entire next month built out before the first post goes live, giving you and the leader breathing room to create your next batch of content. It’s easy to get behind, and create gaps, if you don’t have some buffer.

The importance of LinkedIn and the relative dearth of consistent C-suite voices is just one of the challenges facing marketers this year. Check out our new report to explore other disconnects between your content marketing strategies and B2B buyer preferences.

Let’s talk about growing your company.

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