Corporate Eye

Thinking Socially: Convincing the CEO

gregory shumcheniaI invited Gregory Shumchenia of Modern Pigeon to write a guest post for us – do take a moment to visit his site.

Greg started out five years ago as a photographer and just began offering marketing and social media services. He loves the outdoors and will never eat canned tuna.

Over to you…

7 Tips for Convincing Senior Management to Go Social

Are you working for a company that has yet to embrace social media?

This can be especially painful if you see specific areas in which social media would plug in perfectly to your company’s strategies and goals. The resistance to change may be coming directly from the top, with your CEO, or it may be the head of marketing that can’t see the need for all that Facebooking and Twittering.

Whatever the case, here are 7 tips to help convince the powers that be to start thinking more socially, and a few suggestions on how to implement social media into your company’s existing departments.

Step 1: Show your boss the size and scalability of social media:

With over 500 million users on Facebook and over 300 million on Twitter, companies have an opportunity to reach more people and at a lower cost than ever before. Even LinkedIn, the more “professional” social network, is approaching 100 million members. These numbers can’t be denied. Not only does social media extend a company’s reach, but it also allows for a more targeted message. Geographic location, gender, age, and even movie preferences are all readily available through social networking for your company to utilize and help focus its efforts.

Step 2: Find their friends and business partners:

Without getting too intrusive, look around on a few social networks to find your boss’s friends and colleagues — people he respects. Maybe a bit of peer pressure will help enlighten your boss to the true popularity of social media.

Step 3: Find people talking about your brand or industry:

This is one of the more powerful tools. Show your boss that people are already online and actively discussing your specific brand, or at least your industry. It’s in the best interest of your company to be in a position to participate and hopefully influence that conversation — or at the very least be aware of and monitor it. Getting that kind of customer feedback, at virtually no cost and in real time, is invaluable information your company can use to alter it’s product/service or marketing tactics and ultimately improve the customer experience.

Step 4: Case studies & success stories:

Do a little online research for companies in your market, or close to it, that have had success implementing social media into their business. Keep your eye out for companies like Dell, Starbucks, Zappos, Ford… the list could go on and on. These are some big time companies having unbelievable success with social media — both in terms of increasing overall sales and providing crazy-good customer service.

Step 5: Take a look at your competition:

If your competition is somewhere, your customers probably are too. Do some more research into how your competition is using social media. Are they promoting coupons and discounts through Facebook and Twitter? Are they posting location-based ads using FourSquare and Where? Maybe they’re using Twitter to enhance their customer service system, and save money while doing it. This should be a no-brainer for your boss. Make it clear that without a social media presence, you’re losing these customers to competitors — and they’re using less money than you to get them. Furthermore, convince him or her that this ecosystem of customers is constantly growing and that your company is missing out.

Step 6: Social media is here to stay:

Much like telephone and email, social media is here to stay. It’s not just a fad that stops with Facebook, it’s a new communication tool. Refer back to point number one and how big social media has become — but stay away from any “too big to fail” rhetoric, we all know how that will go over. Just emphasize the fact that community and active engagement are what have been missing from advertising since its inception, but have always been something humans crave, so now that they’ve combined, it’s not likely to change — well, only in a positive direction.

Step 7: Show specifically what social media can do for your company:

This step is a bit of a broad one, and will probably take the most work for you to prepare for. The most important thing is to first look at your company’s existing objectives. Are you looking to increase sales? Reduce public relations costs? Increase customer satisfaction? Determine one or two of these objectives as being a good fit for social media and develop a few basic examples of strategies that work towards accomplishing those objectives. For example, if you’re looking to increase overall sales, one strategy would be to develop existing customers into repeat customers. You might notice this has nothing to do with social media yet. Well, that’s the point. These are things your company is (hopefully) already doing. Now you’ll show your boss how social media can plug into these existing strategies by offering customers a 10% off coupon on Twitter after making their first purchase. Get it? Companies have a tendency to set up social media goals like “get 10,000 Facebook fans in our first year” without focusing on how it actually helps their business’s goals. They might hit that 10,000 mark, but what does that mean? What did it do for them?

Wrap up:

Well, there you have it. Hopefully your business is already using social media, but if they’ve missed the boat, or are currently sinking, I’m hoping these tips will help. How does your company or the one you work for view social media? If they’re not using it, what are their biggest arguments against it? If your company does use it, do you feel like it’s making a difference? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Thanks Greg!

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Hey Three Stone Media (first name?), I completely agree. Small businesses are usually eager to embrace social media as a communications tool, but I also find that they need the most assistance. As you said, it’s big businesses that have the marketing departments, so small businesses generally need some direction and coaching to make sure they’re using it correctly and efficiently.

It seems to me that the companies lagging in social adoption are the large but not too large companies. The large companies have ad agencies pushing social constantly. Small businesses are used to trying to get their word out at a lower cost (social can be a solution for this). The “nearly large” companies seem to be more worried about possibly bad reaction. Just my own opinion based on experiences with all sizes of business.

Nice list! I would add: “We have been talking about being more transparent (or personable, or responsive)–here is the perfect venue”.

Good one, Larry! Social media is about being social. And for a business, it’s a great place to build relationships with its customers. Humanizing the corporate brand is a great way to do that.

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