The concept of people serving their industry as “thought leaders” is fairly new, but in the digital world, it’s a vital one for B2B leaders to understand and leverage. On this episode of Social Business Engine, Bernie’s guest is Xenia Muntean, CEO of Planable. Xenia is an entrepreneur and an emerging thought leader on the topic of digital marketing. She’s been featured in Forbes as one of the Top 100 Forbes Women Entrepreneurs, and has spoken at Cannes Lions.

On this episode, Xenia shares her journey from digital marketing agency owner to technology platform entrepreneur. You’ll also hear Xenia explain the business challenge that she’s passionate about solving and how her team is enabling companies to empower their top employees to be effective representatives of the brand – and most importantly, be seen as trusted thought leaders who amplify the message and mission of their companies.

The Development Of Thought Leaders Is Vital For B2B Brands

B2C brands have long used influencers to promote and communicate their messages. Celebrity endorsements and spokespeople are great examples we all understand. But B2B brands have had a much harder time using personalities to influence others regarding their brand.

Xenia points out that the advent of digital media makes that a problem of the past, brands just need to figure out how to use the available tools to do what their B2C counterparts have long done effectively. Her conviction is that brands can leverage their top employees as thought leaders in their industry by effectively equipping them to speak for the brand in a way that is consistent with the brand message and voice.

She recommends brands look for senior employees who already have significant experience in the industry and who already share things about what the company is doing. Couple those employees with social media experts and you have a winning combination. Listen to hear how Xenia recommends brands start their own form of influencer marketing – including practical ways to create relevant, powerful content for them to share, on this episode.

How To Encourage Busy Team Members To Become Brand Thought Leaders

High-level employees became high-level because they are serious about the work they do and they get results. That means their schedules are appropriately filled with high-level activities. Given that fact, asking them to become an integral part of a thought leadership initiative could feel like “just another thing” for them to cram into their hectic schedules. What’s the solution?

Xenia says that the first step to creating an all-star team of influencers for your brand is to notice who is already showing a proclivity toward this kind of social sharing. Those are the employees who already see the value, so enlist them as part of your pioneering thought leadership team. As you get started with those people and see success from what they are doing, use their stories to encourage others to get on board.

Bernie says it’s like bowling pins – when you hit the pin that is front and center, it starts the chain-reaction that takes the rest of the pins down. In this situation, as you enlist the natural influencers within your team who are already doing great work, you’ll soon see others who respect them eager to join the cause.

Xenia explains how to gather your team, how to assess the digital tools you’ll need to effectively work as a team, and much more, so be sure you listen.

Every Brand Needs Guardrails For Its Social Media Voice And Image

For many brands, the idea of employees communicating via social media on behalf of the company is a scary proposition. What if they say something off-message? What if their style or personality reflects poorly on the company? Aren’t you putting the company’s image and reputation at risk with this kind of strategy?

Xenia Mutean insists that the pros outweigh the cons by a large margin. One of the main reasons is that studies have shown that employees are by far the greatest source of influence a brand has. Wisely guiding employees to take advantage of that fact on behalf of the brand only makes sense provided they have the right tools to make it easy.

In this episode, Xenia explains how brands can enlist and empower employees to be trusted thought leaders who represent the brand accurately on social media channels. An important aspect of how that is accomplished is through the guardrails the company’s leadership establishes around the sharing of content. Be sure to listen, Xenia walks a wise line between being too restrictive and not restrictive enough, so don’t miss out on the insights that she shares.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:05] The interesting background and motivation Xenia has around this topic
  • [3:42] Why thought leadership is vital for brands in the B2B space
  • [6:20] Influencers and thought leaders in your company need appropriate content to share
  • [10:00] What’s the best way to enlist employees to become brand thought leaders?
  • [11:42] What tools and technology makes sense for this kind of collaboration?
  • [14:21] The training involved in building out this influencer content team
  • [15:48] Are there guardrails brand leaders should establish for employees?
  • [20:32] How should the results of these influencer programs be measured?
  • [26:39] Why this approach is a win-win-win for the business, their team, and their customers

Resources & People Mentioned