I am returning to my roots of how I started blogging on today's post by answering questions provided by you, my blog reader and member of my extended social network.
Below is a summary of the question that I recently received:
I was wondering if you had any quick tidbits of advice for how to sell the benefits of using social media to ones own marketing department. As you know there are many who feel uncomfortable with Facebook and Twitter and feel that it is only used for play. I handle HR for a staffing agency and our recruiters and sales people are begging for the permission to use social media. Our marketing department is tentative about opening up use to everyone for fear that "something bad will happen" - my fear is if we don't open it up then nothing will happen. We are behind the curve and I need the buy-in of marketing to move forward.
This question actually brings up two very important questions:
1) Why are some people and companies way behind the curve on social media while others are way ahead of it? We need to look no further than to the public research done by the sociologist Everett Rogers, who is best known for originating the Diffusion of Innovations theory and for introducing the term "early adopter" back to us way back in 1962! This term, and the Rogers Curve displayed before, became even more famous in the business world with its use in Geoffrey Moore's classic marketing book Crossing the Chasm.
Simply put, whoever is heading your marketing department is clearly not an Innovator, Early Adopter, or even in the Early Majority. You are facing the difficulty of "selling" a technology to someone that is either in the Late Majority or quite potentially Laggards. This is not an easy task, and displaying passion and enthusiasm alone is not enough to convince them. Tread with caution.
2.) Should Marketing be in Charge of Social Media in Your Company? Apparently, if your Marketing Department sees no value in utilizing social media but Human Resources / Recruiting and Sales / Business Development does, why not sell to your CEO instead? Ladies and gentlemen, you may not see it now, but social media will envelop every part of your organization sooner or later. Whenever I have a chance to speak at an event, I always include the below slide to illustrate my point:
As you can see, the fact that Marketing stalling on the subject of social media potentially negatively affects two other departments proves my point that it is too important of a subject for any single department to manage. It's time for your CEO to delegate a team, with members from each department present, to forge ahead on a social media policy, strategy, and execution plan.
With all of the above in mind, there is no one single way of how to sell to convince internal marketing or other executives that they should be using social media, but here are 7 ideas for you to think about and try. I prefer an approach that is emotionless and concentrates on analytical data, painting a picture so clear that anyone could see the potential benefits for your company in engaging in social media:
1) Social Media Usage by Your Targeted Demographic
You have to be where your target audience is, right? Well, where are they? This should determine which marketing channels your marketing department is investing their time in. Let's face it, if "Marketing is the process by which companies create customer interest in products or services," based on the demographics of social media usage, I can't imagine any company not including social media as part of their marketing mix in 2010. As your company is involved in staffing, and 80+% of companies plan to use LinkedIn for recruiting this year, it is clear that both your customers and candidates are prevalent on this site. of course, the classic video to present to people who are behind the curve is this Social Media Revolution one:
If you don't know where to look for social media usage for your particular targeted demographic, keep Googling. There is more and more information being published on these statistics on a daily basis that you are sure to find something to back up your claims.
2) Competitor's Use of Social Media
Who are your most fierce direct competitors? Pick 5 and then go to their websites and look for the following information:
- Do they have a Blog?
- Do they have a Facebook Page?
- Do they have a Twitter Profile?
- Do they have a LinkedIn Logo somewhere on their home page leading you to their Company Profile or Group?
- Are their Sales & Business Development professionals connected and active on LinkedIn?
- Do they have a YouTube channel?
If any of them have any of these, you can now start to gather data that shows their presence on these sites along with the numbers of followers/fans as well as ReTweet, etc. numbers from their blog. In fact, taking it one step further, assuming that they have a blog and you do not, compare the number of website visitors between your website and your competitors on Compete. It wouldn't surprise me if they were getting more website hits than you were. If your target customer uses the Internet, like most businesses and professionals do, your Marketing department should be concerned here that you are "missing" out on the boat.
3) Case Studies of Similar Industry Usage of Social Media
Sometimes even your direct competitors don't "get" social media and aren't active. Not to fear as there is someone in your industry who probably already has a success story to share with your Marketing department. If Google searches for "social media case studies" don't give you enough information, search LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for industry companies that are active on a particular site or seem to be "getting" social media. Look at their news releases and blog posts for hints of their financial numbers. Once you can put some data together on how other companies have used social media marketing to their success, it's time to speak with your Marketing department on your findings.
4) Do You Really Understand Your Customer?
How does your Marketing department keep their finger on the pulse of what is happening in your industry? By simply monitoring conversations that are happening daily on the various social platforms, you can now do market research and hear what others say about not only your industry, but also about your company. Isn't that important to your company, that even if you are not active in social media, others are and could be saying things detrimental to your brand reputation? It is a great way to begin engaging in social media by listening while your marketing department gets up to speed.
5) Where is Your Marketing Budget Being Spent?
The beauty about social media is that it really does not require many direct expenditures to see results when compared to other types of marketing expenses. Does your Marketing still spend money on Google Pay Per Click ads, SearchEngine Optimization services, or ads in the phone book or written publications that don't drive many leads? At this point you need to have access to your marketing division's budget, but if they are providing an internal service to sales and other departments, shouldn't you be in a relationship where manager to manager you can share this information? After all, if you can help your Marketing cut out potentially inefficient budget while delivering more leads and making everyone internally happy, shouldn't they have a vested interest in what you are telling them?
6) Conferences & Seminars
Part of "buying into" social media is being educated by those that are knowledgable about it, practice it themselves, and are considered industry experts. There are plenty of conferences and seminars taking place on almost a daily basis these days that your executives can attend to learn more about social media from other companies as well as industry experts. Look no further than the Mashable Events Lists for the next social media conference where you live. You can also try searching through LinkedIn Events for appropriate seminars or even webinars.
7) Bring in an Experienced Consultant
No, this blog post is not about trying to make a sale on you. But, if you have exhausted all of your efforts in trying to convince your marketing department, why not bring in a social media consultant, who's job is to help your company best leverage these new social tools, to assist you in making your sale? Caution: If you're going to bring someone in, make sure they can convince you that they are the right one for the (potential) job. If they can't convince you in a phone call that they are the right person, they probably aren't.
Do any of you have experience in convincing your internal superiors in your marketing department on the need to use social media? Please share your experiences below, as well as any other methods that you would recommend in addition to the above. Thanks!