How to sell social media to the C-suite

It might seem archaic to those of us living in a social media world, but not everyone sees the benefit or value. We often hear from communications professionals that they want to incorporate social media into their overall communications strategy, but they can’t get buy in from their senior executive team. It’s not as unusual an occurrence as you might think. And if it’s happening to you – you aren’t alone.

When we work with clients that have this challenge, we focus on what the senior team needs to hear. While every team has its own idiosyncrasies, there are some key points that work for most.

Show the business case for social media use.

Depending on the industry, this can mean anything from explaining what it could mean for sales and customer service to providing the rationale on how participating in the social media world is a component of reputation management. A well-thought-out, concise business case can put the use of social media into perspective.

Use case studies of similar organizations that are active in social media.

I can’t imagine there is any industry that doesn’t have some kind of social media opportunity. If there are a limited number of case studies within your field, look at organizations that do similar work in other industries and clearly show why they are being used as a case study. (While the product or service might not be the same, show the similarities in size, target market, etc.)

Don’t gloss over the potential challenges.

They didn’t get to the C-suite by being stupid. Don’t try to slide by the risks – you will lose credibility. You can show them how the risks can be mitigated and managed. And it is always of value to show the risks associated with not participating.

 

Start small.

For some organizations, moving into social media is actually a shift in culture. Realize and respect that. The move from (perceived) control of the message out into what they may believe is the “wild, wild west” – with no control – is a big leap for some. Introduce pilot projects and when you do, create case studies of the successes, challenges and lessons learned.

There are many opportunities to show your senior executive team why integrating social media into your communications plan is a strategic move. Once you get their buy in, sometimes the challenge is making sure they realize social media isn’t a magic cure to all your marketing or PR challenges.

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