How To Convince Your CEO To Invest In Social Media

      

Whenever I meet people at marketing and e-commerce conferences I ask them about their presences on social media. Living in the social media echo chamber, I’m often surprised to hear that they either don’t get it, or they do get it, understand that it is critical for the future of their business, but can’t convince upper management that it is worth the investment.

Those folks—the ones who can envision a future on social media and who know how it will benefit the business but can’t get it going are the ones I feel for.

In big companies, a tendency to start big with big agency bills that provide a challenge to ROI, make it difficult to get started. For many, it seems, social media is still too cutting edge (kinda like having a website was viewed about 8 or 9 short years ago.)

Five years ago, when I spoke to my CEO about taking the leap into social media, none of us could quantify the future benefits but I’m fortunate in working for someone at Lion Brand who understands the value of having people talk about you and grasped the potential. We took the leap with a commitment to work with an agency for their lowest possible retainer for 3 months, and since starting a blog and podcast we added Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to our social portfolio. We got some help along the way from some smart agency folks to helped us on a limited basis and then we took charge internally.  Today, nobody who looks at our digital presences wonders for a minute what the value is.

Here is what you need to get your CEO on board of you want to get a social media effort off the ground.

  • You need to be able to explain the value of social media and how you envision it helping your company. If you don’t understand it, you can’t sell it.
  • You need to understand the principles of social media in order to build something of value.  If you use your social media primarily to sell stuff or push your agenda you will be wasting your time and money.
  • You need to make a commitment about what you will achieve and be prepared to stand behind it in the face of inadequate information
  • You need to get into it with as little out of pocket investment as possible.  It’s simple: The fewer the number of digits in your investment, the easier the decision.

Convincing upper management when they are dubious is much easier if you do it on a shoestring. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are free. A blog shouldn’t cost much to get started either.

If you understand the value for your business, it’s because you’ve been reading about social media on the blogs, in books, and discovering content on Twitter from trusted sources for a while.  You’ve seen how the companies that do it well are doing it and you can envision what your company’s social media presence would look like as a result.

You can already begin to imagine what kind of conversations you would you be having, what kind of content you would be sharing and how you would would share it—in videos, images, blog posts. You don’t have to start everywhere at once.

You have to become the expert first.  I repeat.  You have to become the expert first.  You can’t possibly convince anyone and put your reputation on the line if you don’t get it yourself and if you are expecting to hire an agency to do all your thinking for you.  Even if you work for one of the largest companies in the world—a company that doesn’t make a marketing move without an agency–you can minimize your investment by using an agency wisely and on a limited basis to start.

If you can use yourself and your current staff to get rolling on social media and create a minimum viable product (yes it’s a startup!) with limited out-of-pocket costs, you’ll be able to validate your beliefs with results.

Later, you can add in more outside help and out-of-pocket costs as you learn more about what works, where the pitfalls are and how you can best use the investment.

 

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