“What do you mean we need to increase our social media budget? Isn’t it free? I thought we don’t need a budget.”
And another senior marketing manager bites the dust! This is not fiction-drama. This is rampant ignorance among the C-Suite in corporate America. B2B marketing professionals are challenged every day with how to get executive management to buy in for social media. “It’s free”, “We need huge numbers”, “We need a multi-channel presence”, all of these and other confused C-Suite perceptions about the role and purpose of social media make it increasingly difficult for social to be adopted as a must-have. The fact is, social is now an integral part of lead generation and marketing programs.
Mark Yolton, senior vice president of digital, social and communities at business software and services purveyor SAP was quoted in a recent eMarketer article: “Social media marketing is no longer a nice to have—it’s a must have. Our customers expect it. Our competitors are all doing it. And unless we embrace and excel at social media marketing integrated into the full marketing mix, we’ll be at a competitive disadvantage.”
(Note: Mark has recently transitioned into a new role and is now Vice President of Digital Strategy & Enablement at Cisco.)
So how do you gain that competitive advantage? You’ll need the blessings of “the powers that be”. How will you convince them that social media today is a necessary cost of doing business?
- KNOW YOUR INTERNAL AUDIENCE. What type of personality are you dealing with internally? Here are the most common demand generation personalities.
- UNDERSTAND YOUR CMO’S PROFILE. Which one is your CMO? Pick from this list.
- EMPHASIZE THE NEED FOR A SOCIAL VOICE. Not too many members of the C-Suite are used to being hands-on with day to day operations. Explain to your top management why having a coop student or intern to Tweet and blog and post Facebook updates is not okay anymore. You need trained and experienced hands that understand customer relations, branding and lead generation. As you start to build customer engagement and loyalty through social media, you will need a core team to maintain and strengthen your company’s social voice.
- SHOW WHY MONITORING IS IMPORTANT AND HOW IT HELPS. Typically, the C-Suite loves numbers. If you can enable some number crunching in terms of social ROI, you have a stronger case for continued and strategic social media marketing. Explain that while free tools can be useful, you may want to consider investing in better measurement and reporting tools. After all, you do want to go beyond counting your likes and fans to actually throwing light on engagement and lead progression levels with your key target audiences. In addition, track and monitor multiple social touch points to better respond to social conversations.
- PROVE IT. Nothing you say can be as convincing as the proof of success. Run a few small, highly-focused and easily measurable campaigns to show that B2B social media really does work. The taste of success can be a heady one! Top execs will find it easier to commit to ongoing social media programs once they see a few quick and effective campaigns in action. Be sure to make them aware though, that short bursts or spike marketing cannot drive long-term results; only a sustainable social strategy can.
Look out for the next 5 steps on the road to getting C-Suite buy in for social media. And please feel free to add your own to this list.
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