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Problem Solved: How Do You Convince the Boss That It's Time to Go Social?

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There's nothing we love more than solutions—top-notch insights from top-of-the-line experts that help solve common marketing problems. Here's this week's solution, featuring SAS, which offers us a solution to the following problem: How does Marketing convince the CEO that it's time to embrace social media?

Expert: David B. Thomas, Social Media Manager, SAS

Dave has been active in social media since 1994, when he joined his first Internet forum. He is a key member of the Program Advisory Committee for MarketingProfs' B2B Forum scheduled for May 4-5, 2010 in Boston.

Problem: "Oh, Yeah? Tell That to My Boss!"

You know your company is being left behind because you don't have a social-media presence online. But you find your biggest obstacle is in-house: How do you convince your boss it's time to go social?


Dave offers the following crucial steps for initiating your organization's nonbelievers into the power of social media.

Show and tell. A great way to start making your case in-house is with a good old-fashioned Show and Tell. "For those of us who enjoy doing this stuff daily, it's easy to forget it can be confusing and daunting when you're getting started," Dave notes. "The first step in convincing your boss that social media is valuable for your company is to make it real for him or her."

Walk the walk. That means walking your boss and your team through the experience. Dave suggests you use yourself as an example. "Sit down with your boss and any other doubters in your organization and give them a focused, practical introduction on how you use social media," he advises. "Break the monolithic concept of 'social media' down into manageable chunks, and show them it's possible to participate without becoming overwhelmed."

Don't talk the talk too much. "Keep in mind that some of these social-media terms can sound pretty silly to older, more traditional people in your company," he cautions. "Don't baffle them with buzzwords—or worse, leave them laughing dismissively."

Make it real. Get down to specifics, based on your own social-media participation. "Show them the blogs you follow and what useful business information you glean from them. Show them how you use your RSS reader to cut through the noise and present what you most need in an easily digestible way," he says.

Don't forget the tweets. "Show them how you use Twitter (or better yet, tools like Tweetdeck) to mine valuable and timely information." And go to bat for it: "Dispel the misconception that people are doing nothing but talking about lunch on Twitter, and show your team the useful links, market information, and competitive intelligence you get there that's targeted to your business," he advises.

Crow a Little. "Have you had an interaction that led to a quantifiable business success?" Thomas asks. If so, he suggests you do a really cool thing to show it off: Capture it in a screen shot so they can see it right away. "This person asked a question, I answered it, it led to a sale (or positive mention of our company or valuable connection)." High five!

Remind them of what they're missing. Finally, if they're still doubting the value of social networks, "show them how many people are sharing information on LinkedIn and Facebook that directly relates to your company," Dave advises.

Then add the kicker. "Every day, your customers and potential customers are posting information about their wants and needs, their plans and concerns, and what's keeping them up at night," Thomas says. "This is the kind of information you used to pay to get from market researchers and focus groups, and now it's freely and publicly offered, if you just take the time to look for it," he concludes.

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Claire Coyne is a writer and editor for MarketingProfs. Reach her via

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  • by Dan Soschin Tue Oct 6, 2009 via web

    A couple other tips that have helped me pitch social media projects...

    1. Highlight how your competition is using various social channels
    2. Include the value of SEO that blogging can bring to a web site (attracting leads at a very low cost
    3. Start small, think big... take on one project to pilot, such as a blog... execute it very well and professionally to demonstrate "you know what you are talking about".
    4. Just do it. Go ahead and go for it... but on your own time, after hours... When you pitch it, say, "I had some spare time this weekend and put together a quick pilot of xyz..."

  • by Allan Schoenberg Tue Oct 6, 2009 via web

    In addition, I would suggest you go in with support from a key ally -- investor relations, information security, products, etc. If you have the support of other key players it makes selling it to the top easier.

  • by Don Lafferty Tue Oct 13, 2009 via web

    Putting SM output into the context of a traditional sales funnel/pipeline model is often eye opening. Generating revenue is a simple numbers game when a company has solid sales process and really understands their target customer. I show the contribution of leads in the funnel and the higher closing ratio of leads generated by a well designed SM strategy or tactic.

  • by Debra Ellis Tue Oct 13, 2009 via web

    Don't forget the analytics. Executive decisions are driven by fiscal requirements. Have a plan that includes current benchmarks, expected improvements, and a timeline for measurement. Include traffic, customer lifetime value, response rates, and sales in your metrics. This provides a method for monitoring the effect of your social media efforts and reduces resistance. Make sure the the timeline is long enough to see the benefits.

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