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Want to get 'old' CEOs into social media? Try success stories

What do IT and marketing people do if their CEO and other senior managers are stultifying the use of social media? Show them case studies and examples of how other C-level executives are using it to their advantage, say leading social media professionals from Telstra and Facebook.

Kristen Boschma, head of online communications and social media at Telstra, suggested a few strategies for convincing "aging lords" who are not interested in social media.

"What do you do when management is not into social media? A common effort people use in business is to paint the picture of not participating, including some of the risks of not participating, in social media," Boschma said.

"There is a whole conversation out there you don't have a chance to defend if you're not on social media. Posting testimonials on social media could be outlandish and you will wear it."

On the "money making" side, Boschma recommends pointing to case studies where people have seen success on social media, but says tread carefully and "don't scare the horses".

"Don't go in with some 'five channel approach' and try to convince them," she said.

"Find examples of CEOs and high-profile business people using social media to do good things. It's xyz doing it not just 15-year-olds who love Justin Bieber."

Of course, many CIOs are active on social media and could be used as good references to convince other senior managers.

The head of Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, Paul Borrud, said social media is now beyond the education and "how and why" phases even though boards still may not be heavy users.

Borrud and Boschma shared their views during a panel discussion on maximising the opportunities given by social media strategies at the CeBit 2011 conference in Sydney last week.

See photos and all the action from the event.

"What is the thing the [social] platform can do that others can't? It's about sharing best practices, connecting with customers and conversations around what they are trying to solve," he said.

Borrud said small businesses often get asked what the best thing is for their business and a lot of the time it's about information sharing, so creating communities is "a great thing for a brand to activate".

The consensus was to use social media as a unique marketing channel not provided by other means.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter: @CIO_Australia

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