A few years back, I was nearly through a 60-minute presentation on social media with a room full of directors from across the organization when one lone voice finally asked the question on everyone’s mind: What will all of this [social media focus and work] do for us? In essence, why should I care about this?
Great question. And one I should have addressed in a more compelling way early on in the presentation. A bit embarrassed by my lack of clarity on this pivotal point, I said: We get direct access to key stakeholders and influencers, we increase the pipeline of prospective customers, and we help build an impression of the organization through a digital experience, in this case.
And then I showed them. Not through facts and figures as I had previously droned on about, but through actual examples with the organization via social. A tweet from an influential stakeholder that tagged us. A post from a customer who was thanking us for doing what we said we’d do. And content from a competitor that showed how they were framing up an issue others in the industry were grappling with.
While this example came from a large and highly matrixed organization that included a C-suite of accomplished professionals (many of whom are unfamiliar with the platforms and inner workings of social media and digital marketing) there are key lessons we can all apply in persuading leadership to increase the digital marketing budget or secure more resources to boost organic traffic. Here are five steps that may help in gaining C-suite approval for social media:
- Know the organization’s strategic plan, demonstrate your knowledge of it, and show them how you plan to leverage social to help make it a reality. If the plan outlines the vision of going into another vertical, shows how social media (organic and paid) can help build brand recognition, increase revenue, or impact market share.
- Anticipate their biggest concerns and address them. If there’s a budgetary concern, show them how a reallocation of even $1,000 in the marketing budget could make an impact through social marketing for a specific product launch or key event.
- Illustrate a point through a story, not oodles of data. Ever been in a meeting where your eyes glaze over when information is being thrown at you? I think we’ve all been there. What might be more meaningful than showing C-suite executives data around social activity, is sharing a story that nicely highlights your point. An example with a real person or interaction can have a great impact.
- Show them what the organization is missing out on. If you’re trying to gain approval for more resources around social, show the C-suite what the organization is missing out on due to the lack of resources. That could look something like this:We’ve been able to organically increase followers and engagement by 2 percent this year on our key platforms through content marketing and a consistent presence, however other organizations our size and in our industry, are growing their social presence on average of 8 percent annually through more of a paid approach. If our current margins of growth continue, this may translate to lost market share by 2020.
- Help them see the value of integrated marketing. Social media should be part of a larger marketing communications strategy and that strategy should be built around the organization’s strategic plan. Help executives see the value of leveraging all channels in strengthening an organization’s brand and how channels are different from each other.In a world where there’s so much “noise”, it’s more important than ever before to be relevant to a target audience and use the appropriate channels to amplify your content.
Gaining approval for anything can be a delicate negotiation with the other party that is built on trust and confidence. Building trust doesn’t happen overnight but it surely can be destroyed quickly by mishandling the situation. Know your audience, know your market, and perfect your craft. All combined, this will help provide you with the confidence needed to show the C-suite that your recommendations are valuable and worthy of their attention.
I’m interested in hearing from you to learn what has worked within the organizations you represent around gaining C-suite approval for increases in social media budgets and resources.
P.S.: Speaking of perfecting your craft, if you are in the Minneapolis area, I encourage you to attend the January Social Media Breakfast event on “Social Media Trends to Watch in 2019.” It’s a local group that helps professionals better understand how to leverage the power of social media in their work and careers … and there’s bacon so I’m there!
Brook Matthiesen is a marketing and communications manager with more than 18 years proven experience producing innovative solutions that help drive organizations forward. Brook has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a specialty in Advertising and Public Relations from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and holds a Social Media Strategist Certification from the National Institute for Social Media. She has worked extensively in Minnesota’s vibrant healthcare and medical technology sectors and is currently providing marketing communications leadership for one of the University of Minnesota’s largest federally funded institutes charged with impacting human health through research. When she’s not working, Brook can be found in the barn with her horse and dog. Connect with her through LinkedIn or Instagram