With words like “tweet,” “blog” and “unfriend” entering our standard lexicon, there’s no question that social networking has a significant place on our contemporary culture. And it’s no surprise that many companies have been using social media online to connect and communicate with their customers online.
But the benefits of social networking aren’t always immediately apparent to some. And that is especially true for businesses who are interested in having a lot of control over their brand name and brand image. Convincing some that every business has something to gain from online media marketing can be difficult. It can be hard to see how Web 2.0 marketing can result in a positive return on investment (ROI).
When it comes to convincing your boss or colleagues to invest in social networks, it helps to have a plan.
Here the 7 steps you can take when it comes to selling social media marketing to your boss or company.
1. Explain how social media is an unbeatable research tool. When a company is effectively tapped into the social media landscape, they get to hear a lot of chatter that they wouldn’t hear otherwise. Those engaged in social media marketing campaigns will be able to monitor channels for any mention of their company, competitors, industry, clients and potential clients. Setting up a social media marketing listening campaign lets a company know who is participating and what is happening.
Thanks to tools and services like Quantcast, Alexa and TweetMeme, it is now easier than ever to track and measure what people are talking about online. This information is invaluable for developing future marketing strategies, both online and offline.
2. Match the benefits of Web 2.0 marketing with your company’s goals. Whether your company or your client is a service provider, a business to business specialist or a business to consumer retailer, there’s a social media marketing strategy for them. But in order to convince others of online media marketing’s benefits, you have to be aware of the company’s goals. Do they want to enhance their customer service operations? To they want to reduce costs? Do they want to manage their reputation? Social networking can do a lot to help achieve all those goals. When you know what your boss or company wants, you can show how this will help them achieve it.
3. Start small. Even if they’re not bullish on social network marketing, your boss or others at your company are probably aware of the range of social applications and services that are out there. They may think that launching a social marketing campaign will be a huge undertaking, one that will require many work hours just to set everything up.
But that’s not necessarily true. A Web 2.0 marketing campaign doesn’t have to include a setting up a Facebook Fan Page, a Twitter account, a blog and a YouTube channel. In fact, it’s often easier to start small. Figure out which service will best match the stated goals of your boss or your company. It may be something as simple as registering a Twitter account and starting to engage people via tweets. Starting small requires little time and less cost. But the results can become apparent quickly. You can even begin to measure such results with a tracking service like Quantcast.
4. Set up a strategy and follow it. A social media campaign can appear strange and different, even to people who have plenty of marketing experience. If you don’t have a clear strategy for implementation and execution, reactions to your plan will be understandably skeptical to your social media marketing strategy. Take time to explain each step of the plan, describe why it’s being done and how it will benefit the company.
5. Look for examples of social media success. Lots of businesses, large and small, well-known and unknown, have been able to already achieve a lot with social media marketing. From Charles Schwab to FujiFilm to Goodwill, there are countless examples of companies who have been able to successfully use social networking to achieve their corporate goals. Find them and broadcast the results.
6. Anticipate Questions. It’s natural for people to be skeptical of new things and new ideas. While you may be well aware of the benefits of social media marketing, keep in mind that resistance may simply be the result of some people being overly cautions. That’s why it’s important to anticipate any and all questions or objections someone may raise. Find good case studies and other examples of social media marketing successes. Have these on hand to use as examples. Here are some common questions that skeptical bosses may have about social media marketing:
• Our customers aren’t online. This line of reasoning is being used less and less, but some companies may still think this is true. The truth is, at the cusp of the 2010s, nearly everyone is online. Online activity isn’t restricted to any gender, income level, education level, or location. There are countless surveys to prove this. One of the largest survey groups, the Pew Research Center, frequently provides data for online use, broken down by several categories.
• What if someone writes something bad? This is a common fear among those resistant to social media marketing. But studies show that when companies engage with customer complaints and criticisms, they end up looking better than before. Mention that people will likely complain whether you’re engaged in social media or not. It’s better for nearly every brand to appear involved with its customers. Even the angry ones.
• It’s too time-consuming. After setting up social media marketing accounts on networks like Facebook and Twitter, the actual maintenance doesn’t take that much time at all. You can spread social media marketing efforts among the staff, or you can task a single person to handle it. Either way, social media marketing doesn’t require countless work hours. Create a timeline showing the typical amount of time one will spend on social media every week to help prove this point.
7. Make your case. Prepare a short, punchy presentation that hits on all the above topics. Give your boss or colleagues plenty of time to ask questions. Think about your boss or colleagues’ personal preferences and consider how you can best sell your Web 2.0 marketing idea. And remember that there may be some things you don’t know. Social online marketing is still relatively new, and that means that there are still many unanswered questions out there. Be honest about what you don’t know, but make sure to point out all possible benefits to Web 2.0 marketing.
Social network marketing is an exciting new medium that companies can use to achieve just about any business goal. By convincing your colleagues or your boss of the effectiveness of this type of online marketing, you’ll be on your way to discovering the enthralling, challenging and rewarding new world of online business networking.