A few months back, Catherine Walsh wrote a post on how to convince the C-Suite, think CFO, CEO, etc., that social media marketing matters. Explaining that it’ll help you better reach your target market, deal with crisis management, and will help immensely to make your brand real are all important to one of the most important aspects of pitching social media: making ROI tangible.
As Catherine explained, “The average corporate executive runs on numbers– they want to see tangible, data-quantified results, which go beyond how many times a person mentions their brand, or even shares their brand page. And this is the problem with the C-suite exec and social media: social media ROI isn’t always obvious, so it’s harder for corporate executives to understand its value.”
What’s interesting, though, is that this challenge of pitching social media to the C-suite will begin to change, along with the changing landscape of the social media world itself.
Recently, Carter Hostelley published on CMSWire that the longer social media exists, the nature, or “native-ness” of the average C-suite exec relationship to social media will become more engrained. He asks Scott Hirsch, head of content strategy and social media initiatives at Neustar, for what we can expect to see in attitudes of the C-suite to social media, generationally: “There is a big generational shift that will be happening in executive suites in the next five years… and it’s not the ‘age’ of these executives that will drive the change, but rather their digital ‘nativeness.’ I think most executives when exposed to the power of social media in their personal lives easily make the connection to how this media can impact their business. Fact is, the more years of exposure executives have to social media, the more likely they are to buy-in. It’s why tech startups don’t have trouble with buy-in… Their leaders are already tech-native.”
So, as execs gain exposure to social media and begin to see it as a necessity, they’ll be more apt to accept your pitch to hire a social media company, devote part of the budget to social media ad buys, and spend the time and effort to plan events and/or promotions that are exclusive to social media? Not necessarily. Having social-media savvy executives goes both ways. They might be more likely to accept the pitch, but they’ll have more stringent requirements about what they think social media looks like that don’t necessarily fit the purposes of social media for business use. Using Facebook for personal reasons is an entirely different level of usage than it is for marketing, but those lines are much more blurry if it’s not your job to see them.
Hostelly does give some good tips for this pitch, regardless. Make them realize that they’re already doing social, since most company leaders probably read blogs, have LinkedIn accounts, or are on board with email marketing. Explain the actual business value, both in terms of ROI but also in terms of value and metrics.
Whether you want to grow the size of your social audience, engage prospects, or drive more website traffic, make the terms as finite and defined as humanly possible. And if all else fails, show that your competitors are on social media, using it wisely, and leaving you in the dust. There’s no CEO out there who wants to hear that their company is behind the times in any way.
The bottom line is that social media is social media, and allocating the dollars for it is the first and most important step. What it should look like, how your company should be using it and to what ends, and maintaining relevancy in an increasingly speedy world are all questions to work through after you actually have your social media plan, or company that can help you work through a strategy. Having a third-party to negotiate social media strategy on behalf of the marketing department can only help the C-suite see the value: and even more so, the necessity.
Image credit: CC by mkhmarketing