One of the best business-related capabilities a corporate social media manager can have is demonstrating the value of social media marketing to internal and external stakeholders.
As long as social media is considered ‘opt-in’, social media managers have an uphill battle to attract sufficient resources that enable campaigns to scale at mass.
Here are three tips to help social media marketers build the case for business support for social media.
Understand the dynamics of the corporate structure
Social media managers must understand the corporate structure in which they are operating in to demonstrate the value of social media marketing.
In a decentralised structure, there could be little coordination and considerable crossover across the various business units and teams. It’s intuitive to want to pull together a corporate wide strategy.
It’s a risky plan as the different business unit agendas can bring the pursuit of a corporate-wide strategy to a standstill, thereby delivering little in return for the time and effort spent.
Social media managers operating in a decentralised structure need to identify projects they can own from start to finish to demonstrate the value of social media.
By ‘owning your patch’ and generating positive results, you’ll (a) have an independent platform to speak from and (b) will likely earn interest from other parts of the business.
If correctly fostered, interest can lead to momentum. Momentum is a great way to counter the siloed mentality that can inadvertently dampen efforts to demonstrate social media’s broader value to the corporation.
In a centralised structure, it’s easier to get agreement on an enterprise-wide strategy. The challenge is attracting the resources to implement the plan. With fewer teams invested in social media, the centralised structure can act as a bottleneck to enterprise-level innovation and growth.
Social media managers should simultaneously develop an enterprise-wide strategy and the establish one-off trials that enable the various stakeholders an opportunity to participate in the success of social media.
To correctly implement this strategy, the social media manager must pro-actively reach out and work closely with the relevant internal and external stakeholders. While pitching the trial, it’s important to have the enterprise strategy on hand, because it gives context to ‘why’ one-off trials should be run. It also gives stakeholders comfort as to ‘how’ social media can support business objectives.
Assuming stakeholders support the strategy and directly experience the value of social media through the trial, the social media manager has increased the likelihood of unlocking additional resources and funding.
Know that ‘all politics is local’
The golden rule in politics is that all politics is local. In a political context, success is directly tied to the politician’s ability to understand and influence the issues of his or her constituents/voters.
Since social media marketing is primarily an ‘opt-in’ channel for most Australian corporations, it’s critical for social media managers to understand and influence the issues of their key stakeholders.
Without doubt, the social media manager needs to invest time in building relationships with stakeholders.
Even if the social media manager can’t get a lot of time (or any time) with the key senior stakeholder, it’s important for him or her to meet and work closely with the senior stakeholder’s team members.
The senior stakeholder will likely ask the team members for feedback on the value offered by social media. Their positive endorsement will help give greater legitimacy to the social media manager’s efforts to demonstrate social media’s value.
Leverage external subject matter experts
By arranging for an external subject matter expert to speak with your target stakeholders, the social media manager can indirectly reinforce existing strategies or introduce a new perspective that enables stakeholders to form a new insight in support of social media.
Bringing in a subject matter expert is significantly different from bringing in an influencer. Influencers have status and are recognised. Experts have the knowledge and can trigger a reaction.
When the penny drops for the stakeholders, they may have registered an important insight or for the first time configured some random concepts into a logical sequence.
With the subject matter expert being ‘external’, it can help the validity of the concepts championed by the social media manager.
The ‘external subject matter expert’ strategy can be easily integrated with the ‘all politics is local’ strategy. Social media managers who invest the time in building relationships through education and running trials can increase the probability of stakeholders getting more value from external subject matter experts.
Here’s my presentation on the demonstrating social media’s value:
Feel free to email me if you wish to discuss how to demonstrate social media’s value in more detail.