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How to Convince and Sell Social Media to Your Boss

January 11th, 2010 | 19 Comments | Posted in Social Media


I’ve had the pleasure of being on both sides of the fence.  On one side, my former boss was not a proponent of social media because of the difficulty in measuring ROI.  Bottom line, did the social media efforts translate into dollars.  On the other side of that fence, my current employer, Marketwire, is a big believer in social media and the benefits that social media produces.  This post focuses on the former.

Convincing your boss and selling social media should be approached with a plan.  Most importantly, you must genuinely believe in social media and its benefits.

How to sell social media to your boss

  1. Think like your boss and align your reasons with company objectives – Whether it’s customer service oriented, revenue/cost reduction, or reputation management, you have to think of what senior management wants to get out of placing extra resources in social media.  Explain and present the anticipated costs involved, manpower needed, and time investment required.  A way of turning around the “how much are you generating” attack is to respond with “this is how much we can save the company”.  Revenue generation and cost reduction should be viewed as equivalents.
  2. Create a social media strategy and offer to implement in phases - This is the biggest mistake I made when presenting.  I didn’t have a clear cut strategy for implementation and execution.  I also went all out instead of keeping it simple especially for a company that was new to social media.  Make sure you spend some time to break down your strategy that includes company objectives, social media objectives, implementation, execution, and analytics.   Managing social media implementation in phases is less overwhelming and you will be able to see the impact more clearly.
  3. Keep IT involvement at a minimum – Your IT/tech department is most likely overworked with numerous other requests within your company.  One of the biggest selling points is to keep IT involvement at a minimum.  For a small businesses that hire IT consultants, this is an even better reason why you need to sell social media as a marketing campaign first with little tech involvement required.  Be sure you have a couple IT people on your social media bandwagon and to show your boss that these people are willing to help with the necessary enhancements required.  If no one in IT is willing to help with any issues and your boss asks the “what if” question, you’ll be at a loss for words.  Be proactive.
  4. Find “the one” who also believes in social media to CYA – This is a tricky one.  If you’re in a small business, you are most likely the biggest and possibly only believer in social media.  However for larger corporations there will be at least a couple that aligns your beliefs with theirs.  Find that person and network to use them as support.  You may also use a social media agency for further resources.  It’s all about leverage and Covering Your Ass.
  5. Show and tell – Show your boss what is being said about your company.  Tell them about case studies and statistics - Examples are a must; stats help too.  Think about your college days when you were in (insert your major) class.  How much did it help to see a real life example of what the heck your professor was talking about? There are a ton of case studies out there that prove social media works from a sales perspective and to a brand management and culture perspective.
  6. Set expectations for your boss in terms of timing and what kind of reporting/analytics to expect.  Define success metrics.  This is the second biggest mistake I made; I oversold.  Social media is not immediate and the dollars generated from your social media efforts will take even longer.  You need to find your voice in the social media world and develop a foundation.  It takes time and commitment.  Half-assing it will take you back a few steps.
  7. Explain the reasons why businesses should use social media – Get to the point of why social media works: brand management, SEO benefit, lead generation/cost reduction.  You want to mix in tangible results with intangible results.  Explaining the tangible results, e.g., bottom line revenue, cost reduction, should be proceeded with expectations to your boss about timing.  Social media takes time and commitment.

If you get the opportunity to present your case, you may not get another chance.  Take advantage of the situation, be convincing, and think about the company objectives.  Set expectations for yourself.  I’d love to hear from everyone regarding this and especially those who have experienced a situation where the company eventually gave up social media.

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