Trying to get your boss to take social media seriously? The struggle is REAL. And by seriously, we’re not just talking a show of support towards a social presence, but actually having a true understanding of the positive influence social media can have on a business.
If you’re feeling like you’re pushing the proverbial up a hill trying to get buy-in, you’re not alone. In Sprout Social’s 2020 Index, only 45% of marketers strongly agree they have management's support for social media marketing, and one-third of marketers say they don’t have the skills they need to change management’s mind. Forty-two percent of marketers say they need more management support to make a greater business impact through social - but only 39% say they have it. While in Sprout Social’s 2019 Index, 39% of marketers said they struggle to demonstrate the value of social to the rest of their organisation, and nearly half (47%) said that developing a strategy to support their organisation’s goals is the number one challenge they face.
We know, and you know, that social media is here to stay. But despite this, one of the biggest barriers to better social media is getting management on board. Often it’s not that they’re against it, it’s just that they don’t have the knowledge, or the hard data to fully understand its advantages. What they see is a pretty post on a feed, but what they may not see is all the intelligence behind it that a biz can potentially glean from good engagement (we’ve outlined the other benefits of social media that your boss would really be interested to learn, here).
As a social media marketer - or a marketer wanting to expand your social marketing efforts - the responsibility falls on you to get management on side, understanding that serious investment in social is not just beneficial, but necessary in today’s digital world.
We’ve pulled together some top tips to help you get more social media support from the big-guns:
Define what social media means for your business
First, get clear on what the business wants to achieve, and what that means for you in your role as a social media marketer. Set some benchmarks for yourself and the impact you want social to have for the brand. It’s time to give-up old-school thinking that social media is just an ‘add on’ to marketing. Social media is a tool to inform people, so lead by example to create and circulate a clear definition of what social media does to support your wider business goals. Examples could be: social media gives our business a brand new audience, it helps us define our brand, it helps us drive demand to work for our team, social media informs our business decisions, it contributes to our online income, etc.
Emphasise the need for having a consistent, authentic social presence and how social media fits into the bigger ‘business’ picture. Outline how you can collaborate with other parts of the business to support them, as an integrated contributor to business growth and success (rather than a siloed resource). Importantly, pitch this in a way that resonates with the wider business - so cut out buzzwords and jargon that could confuse. We’re trying too hard to do the same as we’re writing this for you!
Think like the C-suite
Your leadership team has their own set of objectives - ultimately what they want to know is how investment in social media is going to help them achieve these. Likes, shares and traffic mean nothing to an executive if they don’t link back to wider business goals, so help them understand. Think about the things that matter most to them - you’ll see they are largely linked to the organisation’s bottom line (revenue, baby!). So, while social media isn’t always about a direct dollar return, it is important to be able to show where it’s potentially helping the business make bank.
Some questions to ask yourself: How does your content, and the strategy behind it, have an impact on sales, marketing and brand positioning objectives? How does this content push prospects to the right places to spend money? What parts of the customer journey does your social media nurture? Ultimately, your goals as a social media marketer should be intrinsically linked to business challenges, risks and goals that your C-suite or leadership team are focused on. When you keep their perspective in mind, you’ll know exactly how to communicate deliverables to them in a way that shows social media’s true value.
Measure metrics that matter
Which brings us to our next point - leveraging the metrics that really matter. Today, social media is very much a two-way street. It’s not just about sharing, but also listening. Where your business can truly leverage social data to its advantage in the market is by listening to, and understanding, audience behaviour. This is where you’ve got front-row seats to insights that no one else in the business does! With this knowledge, your whole organisation is in a better position to ideate around product development, sales strategies and wider marketing initiatives.
Your executives likely LOVE data, but vanity metrics will have little impact on their perspective on social media - unless it’s closely linked to tangible outcomes. So go deeper - use that data to demonstrate real ROI. Things like:
- Brand awareness
Attention metrics can demonstrate the impact of social marketing initiatives to grow brand awareness in the market.
- Audience growth rate
It’s not just about how many followers you have - but the rate at which you’re able to gain them (and whether you’re beating out the competition).
- Social Share of Voice
This shows how many people are mentioning your brand compared to your competitors, and therefore is a good sign of how relevant your brand is in the market.
- Engagement metrics
Make engagement metrics relevant by attributing them to the effectiveness of specific content, and what insights your business could glean from that.
- Conversion metrics
Click-through rate, cost-per-click, cost-per-impressions and conversion rates are all necessary metrics to demonstrate the effectiveness of your social engagement.
- Customer metrics
Testimonials, feedback, reviews and unsolicited shares or endorsements are fodder for understanding what your customers really want.
Remember, metrics only matter if they come hand-in-hand with the answer to the important question: so what?
Show, don’t tell
While your leadership team may be on social themselves, they’re likely not always paying attention to what’s happening online. To keep social activity front and centre within the business, could you set up a ‘listening stream’ that your whole organisation has access to?
Collaboration platforms like Slack offer the ability to integrate social mentions into a public channel (this is a great option for remote or multi-location organisations). Many businesses also keep a live stream of social media notifications running on monitor screens throughout the office or shared spaces.
Seeing the role that social plays in connecting with customers, building brand loyalty and creating a strong brand presence helps to make social efforts more tangible to those who may otherwise be removed from the outcomes.
Be proactive with sharing info and insights
Provide regular, proactive reporting with leadership (and wider teams) to show the impact and influence that social media activity is having. This isn’t just about marketing outcomes; it should provide insights and actionable information that relevant parts of a business can leverage to inform their own decision making. Remember, it’s all about demonstrating value in a way that makes sense to them. Product teams, business intelligence, customer service and sales can all benefit from data obtained through social listening, it’s just a matter of presenting them with the info they need.
Keep reporting relevant and concise - don’t overwhelm with metrics that don’t provide any real value or insight (refer point above!). Highlight suggested actions as well as potential risks or any red flags that need attention before they escalate into issues. Where possible, arrange a regular meeting with stakeholders to talk through your report and to check in with them. Ask: have their objectives changed? And if so, how can you be supporting them? You understand the best ways to leverage your social platforms, so make sure you’re informing strategy, rather than the other way around.
The benefits that come with good social media marketing investment are real, but social comes with its risks too. Be transparent about these - but also be clear that you have processes in place to mitigate or remediate potential challenges. Often it’s fear of the unknown, or a perceived fear of risk that is holding organisations back from going ‘all in’ with their social media marketing efforts.
The bottom line to getting buy-in is to be thorough and transparent with your strategy. Show your leadership team that social media isn’t just about following trends or short-term campaign outcomes, but about cementing long-term consumer loyalty and leveraging insights that could actually help set your business apart from the rest.
If your organisation could do with a helping hand to set up a solid social strategy that gets a thumbs up from leadership, The Social Shop is here for it. We love getting into the nitty-gritty of complex social media opportunities, and we'd love to facilitate a new era of corporate excellence in social media with your business. Get in touch and let’s chat about how we can bring your brand to life online.