However, you have just one problem. It is becoming increasingly difficult to engage, inspire and connect with your network of customers, partners, evangelists as you did in the old days. People seem more busy than usual. They are carrying around a smart phone, talking with one another in 140 character tweets. They check into Foursquare at client dinners while your executive team looks at them and smiles with a worried eyebrow of confusion. Bottom line you feel like they are talking in a language you can't understand and you are left out of the party.
You know there is a world of social opportunity for you, your company and your brand. You have an already enabled, empowered and self-tweeting community if you could just get out there and engage with them.
What is holding you back? For many it might be the corner office. You know the one. The one where your CEO, CFO, CTO or whatever CXO sits and is afraid of Facebook. They have heard rumors of all the terrible things that your clients or partners can say and tweet about you. They worry about how they are going to staff the social monitoring and engagement. They have no idea how they will find the time to integrate into social media into the business in a way that will bring any level of results and mitigate associated risks.
So, given all of the above, for the past couple of years you have chosen to ride the "status quo" boat. You chose to take the safe cruise and not rock the boat or better yet jump over board. However, you simply can't take it anymore. If you can't get your boat a rockin' you may soon be jumpin' over board to a company who is at minimum not afraid of that almost harmless little Twitter bird!
Here are 24 tips to start rockin' that boat and move your CEO to at minimum consider a test with social media as a communication and marketing medium.
24 Tips to get the CEO & Corner Office to Say Yes to Social Media!
1. YOU must understand what social media is and is not. Bottom line if you don't know anything past how to logon to Facebook and Twitter the chances are low you are going to be able to have an educated discussion with your executives that will motivate them to think any different than they do today. Do your research. Social media is more than tools and technology. Social media requires both art and science. Remember, it's what happens after the Facebook like that matters most!
2. Admit what you know and don't know. If you have zero experience and don't feel comfortable that you can obtain a basic level of knowledge of the social landscape in short time, then acknowledge the fact. You can then include obtaining such information and training as part of your plan and proposal for investment.
3. Know your business objectives. The best way you are going to "sell" the corner office on even taking a look at social media is to have an idea how doing such can help the business. Before you develop any plan or proposal for your business to adopt social media, you must understand what the core objectives are for your business. If you are a small business, this should be easy to track down if you don't know them already. If you don't have business objectives written down in a plan, then this is a perfect time to get them there!
4. Talk in language that the CEO and corner office understands and can relate to. The CEO is not going to give a rip about Facebook likes and retweets if you can't succinctly communicate how it will impact the business. Chances are they don't even know what they are. Focus on how you can help the business by leveraging social media. How can you increase brand awareness? How can you improve customer satisfaction? Drive efficiency in sales? Shorten sales cycle? Leverage social media listening for feedback on products that can be incorporated into product development processes and procedures?
5. Know what business objectives can potentially be positively impacted by social media. Although you may not know all the answers to this if you are new to social media, do the best you can. Social media can't impact all business goals and objectives. Try to identify the top 3-5 goals and objectives where social media can help your business.
6. Social media plugs into your business. Your business does not plug into Facebook. Do not expect the CEO to approve a plan that focuses on how you are going to modify your business to fit within the new Facebook timeline or in a series of 140 character tweets. You're guaranteed to be laughed out of the corner office versus land yourself a meeting to present your solid plan. Focus on aligning your business to social early as a number one priority.
7. If it takes a hard "sell" for the corner office to even think about social media, it may not be the right thing to do. Only you can make this decision. You know your company, executives, clients and partners. You must do your research and be able to justify and be accountable to the decisions made.
8. Respect laws and regulations associated with your industry or niche. If there are certain laws and regulations that you must acknowledge associated with your industry or niche then you'll need to approach social media with an even more researched, educated and planned approach.
9. Know your audience. The more you can know about your community, clients, partners, evangelists, the better. Get in their head. Know what they like, what they don't like. How are they engaging online today? Who are they engaging with? What are they talking about? How can you help them achieve their goals? What information can you deliver to them via social media that will help them be inspired to further connect and engage with you and your brand?
10. Know the abilities of your team and company. If your company, marketing team, web design team is stuck in the 1980′s still using all html based websites, doesn't know what a widget is or have the first clue how to integrate an opt-in form on a website then you must acknowledge this gap up front. You must make it clear to the corner office that enhanced skills are required to obtain any traction leveraging social media.
11. Have a plan to fill the skill and resource gaps required for success. If you have identified skill and resource gaps associated with planning, integrating and executing social media then do the research and develop a plan to obtain such. This will include training, strategic and tactical partnerships, augmentation of staff, natural or forced attrition needed. This is where you will have to rock the boat without a doubt. However, avoiding the boat rocking in this area is a recipe for disaster.
12. Develop a brief plan. The plan should include a summary of what social media is, why it matters to your customers and your business and why you can't avoid it. Included should also be a short assessment of the social landscape for your niche, assumed risks and mitigation plans, resources needed to get started and how you are going to get there.
13. Social media is a journey, not a destination. Develop a plan to start social media, not end. Don't oversell the end game. Sell them on the fact that it is a journey as you are going to need their support for the long term, not just now.
14. Embrace being a social pioneer in a sea of change. You are going to learn, grow and experience bumps along the way. However, remind them that everyone, every business is doing the same. Chances are you will break new ground within your industry. Focus on the fact you can be a pioneer and that you can possibly leverage social media as a way to take a thought leadership and community leadership role within your industry or niche. We help many clients do the same within their respective industries and markets.
15. Don't over commit yourself to results that are unknown. If you are in the early stages of social media adoption then the last thing you want to do is sign up for a made in the sky return on investment (ROI) formula that you'll never achieve. Before committing yourself to such you must know the level of commitment of your executive management and all key stakeholders.
16. Know how you are going to measure success and failure. Metrics are key. Focus on metrics that will identify early trends so you can positively pivot, continuously improve and be as agile as possible in engaging and communicating with your audience.
17. Be realistic. Don't oversell your self, your team or your business. If your business is stuck behind the times, your website looks like it came out of the pre-dot bomb era and you know your CEO doesn't know what Twitter is, then acknowledge such and build a plan to overcome. Be realistic when setting timelines, milestones and goals for achievement. The worst thing you can do is overcommit because you are too focused on selling.
18. It's more important you "be social" versus "do social". There is a big difference between doing social media and becoming a social business. Doing social is easy as it only requires a Facebook or Twitter account. You can do social and simply spam coupon tweets the same way you use to do with direct mail or email spam. However, being a social business requires thinking about the social networks as a medium to leverage to improve communication with your audiences and stakeholders with a goal of meeting business objectives. Social business is yet to officially be defined. You can check out a recent post I wrote on this topic which includes taking a shot at a definition of social business. Would love to hear your thoughts.
19. Be honest. Even though you may know that your business will not be in business in two years if they don't hop on the social boat, do not lose your integrity to sell such. Don't over promise. Don't over exaggerate the facts, stats or expected outcome. It will all catch up to you and fast. Focus on truth, honesty and facts that will help your executive stakeholders make the most educated decision possible.
20. Know what Plan B looks like. Think of the "what if" scenarios. What if they approve? What if they don't? How will you react, plan, manage your job, responsibilites after each possible scenario.
21. Have proper research to back it all up. Bottom line, don't present anything that can not be backed up with data. If the data is not available then don't make it up. Embrace the areas where your company will be forging new seas.
22. Remind your executives that people are going to talk about your company and possibly them personally regardless if they are on Twitter or Facebook. The conversation is happening with or without them. The biggest question is do they want to join and lead their own social party or do they want to ignore it while sitting in their corner office stuck in the ice age?
23. Avoid Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) like the plague. RAMS will feel good in the short term but will destruct any chance of return medium and long term. If your executives try to modify your integrated and comprehensive plan into a long list of random tasks, push back and rock the boat. RAMs are a recipe for your failure as well as the company.
24. Don't be afraid to rock the boat. I can guarantee you that if you are taking the lead on jumping on the social boat for your organization, then you are going to ROCK the boat my friend. Get ready to grab an oar, anchor down when needed and ride the waves of success. Chances are you have no other choice. What do you have to lose? Worst case you will learn so much during the process you can then go find another job and fill the boat with those who want to pioneer the seas of social with you.