To say it is hard getting executive buy-in for social media marketing is a massive exaggeration. Let’s face it, not only social media practitioners face this dilemma but keep in mind other departmental heads, too.
See, social media has changed. A lot. Before, these platforms used to be free, and a handful of tactics would guarantee you immediate and best results. Sadly, today, you have to do more to dominate. And even the tiny things you’ll do to bring conversion will require some investment.
An investment organizations aren’t willing to make, because their top managers refuse to change their perspective regarding social media and its use. They still see social media management as some piece of cake.
So how do you get senior managers and even business owners not to see social media marketing as cinch?
There is only one answer: the executive buy-in.
What does executive buy-in mean?
Executive buy-in is convincing senior level executive and even company owners to invest in an idea, for the company. It is making them pledge to do something (like allocate resource for social media activities) but after convincing them how they will enjoy the fruits of that activity.
Why is executive buy-in important?
- It builds stronger relations among employees and the owners of the company or top executives.
- Increase the level of commitment by employees, whether it is on a project, or in their work.
- Executive buy-in reduces employee churn.
Before you make top leaders see the light, one thing you need to know is securing executive buy-in requires understanding what these managers care most.
To save you all the headache, here is what you need to know about executive buy-in and senior leaders:
- First, will the project increase revenue?
- Is it going to protect or improve the brand’s image?
- How about cost and efficiency? Is it cost effective?
- The projects competitiveness.
Keeping in mind that senior leaders do not see social media like us marketers, in the form of click-through-rates, social media posts you have, or the sentiments.
Understanding what senior leaders care about can be the real eye opener on how you would present your idea for acceptance.
Getting executive buy-in for your social media campaigns
1. Build relationships with internal stakeholders.
Social media involves several moving parts and is not just a responsibility of the marketing department. Customer care, sales, PR, and human resource will always find themselves affected by social media. That is why you have to reach out to these stakeholders. Get them onboard: it will not only act as an additional headcount in getting a consensus from senior managers, but it will also help in:
- Structuring your team and building policies on how those tasked with social media will connect and engage with the social audience.
- Understanding what social media channels to use.
- Improve relationships among different departments.
- Increase in sales/revenue.
Building relationships also involves evangelizing your plan in the organization. You can target key individuals who may wish to come on board to help the plan push through. These individuals should also be willing to help in your social media efforts even after the executive buy-in process.
2. Use a third party to drive your agenda.
If step one proves futile such that you cannot get other stakeholders onboard, maybe they are dragging their feet. Your best bet is finding someone (an executive) who can push for your idea. However, you would be better off presenting your idea as a team than as an individual.
The executives should be someone who easily relates to employees or an employee representative tasked with managing employee issues/problems. That is the individual to approach with your idea. To enable them to understand your purpose: first, it is not about building a stronger relationship, but making them understand the goals, KPIs, and how social media would work in favor of the organization. You can start by identifying the challenges in the business and how social media is the real solution.
3. Develop a roadmap or plan for social media use.
A plan on how your post will look like or how you will conduct yourself on social media will not work, but one on how the business will enjoy social media might attract attention. If the company is challenged by a poor service response time, you need to show executives how social media will mitigate such problems, or how social media will change the business. It can be through advising the company to create a social media customer care handle like what Apple has to tackle technical issues.
In this roadmap, you can present industry case studies justifying your plan from brands that have enjoyed the use of social media. You can get such information or data through social listening or benchmarking competitors and other business. You can even go further and show your projected plan showing them the ROI. The main point here is not to show executive what you will do, but how your procedure will make them more money.
4. Position the plan as a hypothesis.
If presenting a plan does not look practical for the top executive, then you can show how you will test all the variable to show what you are trying to accomplish. Let’s say it is improving the brand’s image or reputation. In this step, ensure your plan starts with the business goals then show how social media will meet those goals. You can show how you will monitor brands mentions online and defend reputation against bashtags and negative sentiments like #deleteUber or #deleteFacebook through social monitoring.
In this hypothesis, provide the duration in which you will achieve the metrics that you are trying to track. You can also include a min budget in this plan to help meet those goals.
5. Forecast by sharing results from the hypothesis.
Sharing results is not about showing metrics in publisher or graphical output; it involves forecasting on where the business will be after some time of social media usage. In your forecast, go back to the business goals while developing useful future scenarios. Show them the ideal plan and what current resources can do. It is the only way top executives can listen and take up your idea.
Executive buy-in may seem like an uphill task, especially if you are asking for resource or consideration on something your organization has never put into practice or consider duck soup, like social media. The above five methods, if applied correctly, are only the first step to ensuring top managers look up to your idea.
What other methods do you use to secure executive buy-in? Please share in the comments section below.