Social media has approached that interesting transition where it is moving from ubiquitous to invisible. According to the Neilson 2012 Social Media Report, “consumer decisions and behaviors are increasingly driven by the opinions, tastes and preferences of an exponentially large global pool of friends, peers and influencers.” Social media is the platform for brand banter. 70% hear others experiences and a startling 65% learn more about brands, products and services. So why is it that social media campaigns are so hard to sell?
Sell Big Ideas in Small Steps
Part of the social media pitch, and arguably before you pitch, know if the company has the social media infrastructure to listen, respond and track the conversation. Are they ready? Without infrastructure, there is little chance to gain internal traction, momentum and insight into the nuances that make a social campaign great – leading to those very human, intrinsic ‘ah-ha’ moments. Balance the striking creative and hot technology with doable change. It’s small commitments - from the CEO to the marketing interns and across functions that will create a supportive environment for reasonable change.
Instead of selling the big idea, social media is selling a journey in which your prospect (or client) knows the general direction but you and the customers will build the roads to get there.
Set Fluid Expectations
If the company can’t support the social media campaign, offer to do it with them but not for them. Measurement is great but interpretation is critical, here. Initial campaigns can open a floodgate of customer participation and leave firms exposed to criticism as well as compliments. Two important issues:
Acknowledge Social Media Literacy
The best part of pitching is the opportunity to present a new view for the brand …what the brand could be and how social media is integral to that vision. While few brands deny they need social media, there is still resistance to its validity, importance and power. Part of the resistance is based on fear and experience of the decision makers – how literate are they? Social media literacy is the pink elephant in the room. How the people you are pitching participate in social media makes a significant difference in how you frame your pitch and they frame the likelihood of its success.
A C-level executive team each boosting over 700 LinkedIn connections and belonging to a few groups does not mean that they participate as contributors to social media. There is very wide gap between the number of people who observe online conversation and those that contribute it. Yet the observer and the contributor are equally important to the brand. To improve the pitch, address the audience online behavior openly. Do so in a way that leaves your prospect feeling adequate with their participation. Simple facts sprinkled into the pitch can greatly reduce resistance because they dispel the idea that everyone is more popular and social media fluent than they are. For example, have dataa like the average Facebook friends: Millennials -318, Gen-X -197 and younger boomers – 155. Or that according to Pew research, 16% of the population is on Twitter. It sets a benchmark that leaves prospects feeling less out of touch.
Embrace Brand Socialization
Social media is not just a marketing tool. Social media supports the brand by uniting every action, interaction and reaction. If pitches and programs only include marketing and c-level, the customer facing employees (sales, customer support, product marketing) are not aligned with the solution. Every employee wants to better reach, serve, understand and convert brand lovers. Your pitch should address the need to internalize the social media campaign before the general public. It shows your prospect that you want what is best for the company and not just your budget.
Big Opportunity for Learn
Clients are on a steep learning curve – heck, who isn’t - and it is our responsibility to collectively educate one another along the way. Selling the dream of a viral You Tube video is just as harmful as building a Facebook presence that is never updated. Having a twitter account that is cut off from customer service is a waste of good money. A 2012 eMarketer report claimed that only 24 percent of small businesses (20 to 99 employees) and 33 percent of medium-size businesses (100 to 999 employees) have integrated social media in structured way. There is a very big opportunity for social media that are strategically rolled out. The pressure to quickly have a social media presence must not trump the intelligent thinking behind how the social media strategy will be managed and supported across the company.
Social media, done right, is not cheap, free or fast. It takes time to listen, to find the moments that people want to share and to build campaigns that lead to an enviable social media strategy that truly aligns the brand. Yes, start small, but don’t think small.