A little sympathy for the marketing teams of Australia please – the journey to shed the “colouring-in department” tag seems neverending. After years of fighting the misconceptions that marketing is all parties, piss and pretty pictures, along comes social media and its “new age” ideals of conversations, collaboration and content. Before your CEO is going to sign off on a social media strategy you’re going to need to address these five issues.
1. The Control Myth
It’s a deafening objection from the CEO and brand police: “we don’t want to lose control”. What control? Customers and prospects are already having conversations about your brand whether you like it or not. At least a presence in relevant social networks gives you the opportunity to encourage positive feedback and address any frustrations and complaints. What other opportunities do you have to turn a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate?
2. The Great (Fire)Wall
So you want to show your CEO what is being said about your brand but there’s one major problem standing in your way – your company restricts access to social networking sites. A research report from Telstra and Message Labs shows an 193% increase in blocked sites since January this year [check out this ComputerWorld article]. The conversations around productivity, security and bandwidth don’t concern you. Write a business case to help you get access to the tools you need and flick a few key articles to the stakeholders who can take care of the IT policy.
3. The Numbers Game
Your CEO and CFO will be happy to know that there are hundreds of tools (free and paid) to track social media campaigns. It’s important to point out that the increase in so called “soft metrics” mirrors the changes in the buying process. As buyers begin to rely on reviews and opinions over specifications, marketing is moving into earlier stages of the buying process. While this means marketing activity begins further away from the sale, measuring interactions, engagement, conversations and brand perception will help you strengthen your sales funnel at every step.
4. The People Power
Your budget and resources are already stretched to the limit but if you get the green light to implement a social media strategy don’t expect to set up a few accounts that can be managed in your spare time. Start slowly and build your presence with a long term commitment in mind. Delegate the workload where appropriate and you may find yourself looking outside the marketing team for great content. Engage passionate thought leaders to write blog posts; ask your customer service team to answer questions in industry forums; turn training sessions into informative vodcasts.
5. The Bandwagon
Don’t let a trend happy internal advocate ruin your chances for a long term social media strategy. Jumping on a bandwagon just for the sake of it could do more harm then good so cool your heels and go back to the basics and ask these questions:
who is your audience and how do the interact online?
what are you trying to achieve?
what is the best way of communicating your message?
Resist the urge to latch onto the latest fad just to dip your toe into the water and give your CEO the confidence to back future recommendations.
With careful consideration these 5 issues can turn into 5 ways you can get buy-in from your sceptical CEO. And if they are still struggling to find motivation to embrace social media, fire them up with the idea of Risk and Reward.