Getting social media buy-in

social media doodles_1000X762This article was originally published on Allee Creative’s blog. It is published here with permission.

Sometimes the hardest part about using social media for business is getting buy-in from the decision makers. This can be especially hard if the executive leaders of your company are not active on social media. If you’re a business owner, this can include you as well. You might not be comfortable or have the faintest idea how to use social media personally, let alone for your business.

Likewise, you could have a team that is completely on board with what you’re doing on social media from a business perspective, but if those same people aren’t willing participants when it comes to sharing, liking and retweeting or reposting content, you can’t very well expect your external audiences to do the work for you.

So how do you get social media buy-in from others in your company in order to utilize these online tools as part of your overall marketing strategy?

Relate social media to the business plan

Before presenting your case for social media to leadership, do your best to have a full understanding of the company’s business goals and objectives. Be an active, willing participant and ask questions such as:

  • What are our revenue goals for the year? For the next five years?
  • Are there specific recruitment goals or strategies we’re working toward?
  • How do our customers find out about us? Do we have retention goals based on previous years?
  • Who is our target market?
  • What are our top two priorities for the rest of the year?
  • If there was one thing you would want to make easier (ie: processes, sales, hiring, brand awareness, etc.) as it relates to the company, what would it be?

Now, depending on your position within the company and how transparent leadership is, you may or may not find all the answers you are looking for. But, for the answers that you do receive, put statistics against it that demonstrate how social media can help support the needs of the business.

One example would be to look at your company’s current website traffic. If you can gather information that speaks to how many people visit the company site each month, where that traffic comes from and what users do while they’re on your site, you can make a case for social media—whether it turns out to be a a high source of referral traffic that should be emphasized and strategized, or a tool that is currently being left out and that could have the potential to drive traffic above and beyond what the company is seeing now.

Prove value

This is where research comes into play. If you want to get leadership on board with using social media for business, you need to have the stats to back it up. Look at your competition and see what they’re doing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Vimeo, etc. They could be knocking it out of the park or not really active at all; either of these scenarios can help build your case for the possibilities of using social media or what not to do once your team is on board.

Pull demographic statistics and gather information about your industry in order to show what the potential dollars lost could be if your company remains inactive when it comes to social media and content marketing. Look up content marketing benchmark reports. Grab stats that support your business goals above. For instance, did you know that employers who used social media to hire found a 49% improvement in candidate quality over candidates sourced only through traditional recruiting? Or that the total value of missed sales opportunities on Twitter for the health insurance industry alone in October 2013 was US$14.6 million?

Speaking in terms of dollars and missed opportunities is sure to catch the attention of your C-suite.

Demonstrate success

Gather up some case studies and campaigns that support your goals and ideas for using social media marketing. If there are already channels your company uses (and you’re simply trying to get more resources behind what you’re already doing) be sure to track your own successes. A simple one sheet (think infographic) can go a long way to quickly demonstrate success. Suggestions for items to highlight on this document might include:

  • Online ad spend (clicks, impressions, conversions compared to dollars spent).
  • Website traffic (increase, unique users, top content).
  • Brand exposure and reach (how is what you’re doing online reaching more potential clients, employees, etc. than if you were to stick to traditional strategies?).
  • Engagement and conversation (how has this increased over time?).

Think about resources

Come equipped to talk about responsibilities and what monetary resources might be needed to support your social media efforts. There are eBooks to get you started on ideas and many content marketing agencies can give you a sense of cost/benefit ratios. If you want to bring the responsibilities to internal staff, be prepared to talk about whose job social media will be (content production, design, posting, monitoring, stats, etc.) and what that might mean for current job tasks and responsibilities.

Communicate often with employees

Marcus Sheridan had a great idea on Social Media Examiner about how to keep employees at all levels involved and up to speed on social media efforts. He suggests creating a company social media newsletter, something the chief content officer (or your content marketing company) can create on a regular basis to keep employees informed of social media results.

I love this idea of a social media update newsletter. It doesn’t have to be super long; bullet points and highlights from the month can go a long way. Think about including items such as:

  • A shout-out to the employee who was the most engaged when it came to the company’s social media channels (ie: sharing Facebook posts, retweeting company tweets, liking Instagram pictures).
  • A list of the top three blog posts for the month (and credit to any employees who may have contributed to the writing of those posts).
  • Q&A from employees. Give them a chance to give input on what type of content you can put out the following month.
  • Website traffic results (traffic increase, online sales, unique visits).
  • Overall stats on how many people are engaged with your content on the social media channels that your company uses.
  • Quotes or testimonials from social media.

Preparing yourself with the items above will help you build a case for utilizing social media as part of your company’s marketing startegy. Don’t be afraid to be equipped with answers for rebuttals that may come your way. In the case of those who may not fully understand the magnitude of each social media channel, it’s important to start slow and encourage education.

If you’re looking for ways to get your team on board with social media, we’re here to help. My team and I have recently developed a social media workshop series. The series includes 5 workshops customized to your organization’s need. Everything from overview to content planning to ROI. Please contact me for more details.

Learn the ins and outs of creating a content marketing plan. Attend Melissa Harrison’s content marketing workshop at the 2015 World Conference.

Melissa_Harrison400Melissa Harrison was named a “Mover & Shaker” in 2012 by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and one of the “Top 36 Content Marketers Who Rock” by TopRank and Content Marketing Institute. She has more than 13 years of experience in content management and strategy, branding and design. Melissa is a four-time recipient of the Hermes Creative Award and a national speaker on the topics of branding, content strategy and social media. She is also certified by Google Analytics Academy in Digital Analytics Fundamentals.