Archive for June, 2011

This is Part 1 of a three part series on Pitching the Benefits of Social Media to Executives.  Over the next few weeks we will cover (1) The Initial Conversation (2) Handling Resistance and (3) Measurability and ROI

Pitching Social Media to Executives, Part 1

Social media has become a major part of marketing strategies and programs because of the many benefits of engaging with consumers. If everyone is jumping on the social media bandwagon, there has to be a reason, right?

You may think so, but it’s not always an easy sell to those in charge of marketing budgets.  In this post

I’ll try to equip you with the information you need to show decision makers that social media can be a powerful addition to your marketing mix.

“Social networks are now used frequently by your customers, your prospects, and your competitors. Connect with people, learn their business needs, and respond more simply and flexibly.”Chris Brogan, on 12 Ways to Sell Social Media to Your Boss

Theory Versus Reality

For a large corporation with significant expendable dollars in marketing budget, it may be easy to get the green light for new, non-traditional marketing efforts.  But that’s not always the case, especially for companies with limited resources.

Despite some of the theoretical benefits of social media and the list of successful case studies out there, when deciding whether or not to bring new marketing methods in-house, most marketers encounter resistance.  There are still many executives that are hesitant to enter the social media space.

One of the biggest problems people have is in drawing the connection between the social media marketing they’ve been hearing about, and how it can directly benefit their organization.

Four Initial Conversation Points

There are several items you can prepare before a conversation with upper management that may help in bringing the benefits of social media to the forefront.

It’s nothing new

It’s helpful to think of and position social media not as a brand new concept, but as an extension of your current marketing and business goals. While there are some new ways of thinking about reaching your audience through these channels, they should be viewed as enhancements of your current marketing mix.  Positioning social media in this light will make it easier for your executives to relate to it and understand it.

Suggestion: Position social media as part of a planned program you are planning or have in progress.  Layout and define the other components of the campaign and include how you intend to utilize social media as part of it.  While social should be considered an ongoing part of your marketing it is sometimes easier to gain initial buy-in by positioning it as a part of a specific marketing program or campaign to make it easier to conceptualize.

Up-front benefits

If you start your conversation by highlighting the benefits of social media, as opposed to answering the questions of what social media is, or how your organization is going to do it, you’ll be able to focus the conversation on those benefits before you start your selling the process.

Suggestion: Position the benefits in terms of metrics and stay away from the less tangible benefits. Outline the increases in audience reach you will achieve through social media and how audience members will be encouraged to share key messages with their fans and followers.  Tying the upfront benefits back to something concrete makes the benefits more understandable.

Suggest hypothetical goals

At the initial stages of implementing a social media plan, your team will need to determine your goals.   When you’re selling the concept of social media to executives, it’s helpful to suggest a list of hypothetical but realistic goals your organization could reach if they were to implement a program.  This provides a direct and relevant example of what social media can do for you.

Suggestion: Begin by outlining the social media specific measures you are targeting, for example, increase in fans, followers, views, etc.   Connect these measures to traditional marketing metrics such as clicks, and conversions.  It should then be clear how social media can increase the bottom line in terms of sales.  Defining the overall objectives allows you to draw a line in the sand and benchmark performance.  This will also help executives understand the overall benefits of utilizing social media.

Demonstrate your current “social media status”

Be prepared to discuss the places where your brand and topical conversations about your brand are occurring.  Defining the landscape this way will make it much easier to illustrate that the conversations are already happening and by not participating, you are missing the boat.

Suggestion: One of the best ways to hit home on how very relevant the social media space has become is to compile a list of where your brand is currently mentioned online: tweets, blog posts or comments, Facebook mentions, websites.  This shows very obviously that your brand already exists in social media.  If you’re not actually mentioned anywhere online, the next best way to show this is give the stats of some of your competitors – either mentions of them online or where they’ve actually set up a presence on a particular social media platform.

In part 2 of this series we look at some of the most common concerns of using social media for marketing, and understand how you can better frame the issues for the decision makers in your organization.  Expect to see part 2 during the week of July 4th.

Photo Credit: That’s one of mine :-)  That is a picture of Daisuke Matsuzaka throwing the first pitch of the 2008 Red Sox season in the Tokyo Dome in Japan.