So you’ve decided social media is a useful way to connect with your customers and spread the word about your business? Cool for you. Now how are you going to convince the CXOs that it’s not just a waste of time?

I’d suggest you don’t start with “We HAVE to have a Facebook page” as your opening comments. Especially not if your reason for saying it is because a consultant or friend told you so, because everybody has one or your competitor is there and you’re not.

Often they’re held back by just plain ignorance about social media. They’ve made some assumptions based on the fact that their teenage kids are into social media networks and relate everything to that. Sometimes they’ve heard a few failure stories and relate them to all areas of social media. You need to show them the value and they may simply turn around. So do some deep searches and get your data together before you pitch it.

It’s also important to think about the person you’re talking to. What are their pain points and what will make it easier for them to get their job done? Will what you want to do add to their workload? Then you’d better have a way to show them the up-side.

Try to look at this through the eyes of the person you’re talking to. Find out what their beliefs and interests are from the company perspective and also from a personal one. Who do they admire? What are their aspirations personally and for the company? Can you find good cases that exemplify success at the same goals and also support what you want to do? You never know, you might find some even better than your original plans.

Where did they come from?

Each department of an organization has different needs that can be served through social media. If your CXO worked their way up through one of these, start here and speak to their core expertise.

PR and Marketing

PR and Marketing wage epic battles over who is going to “own” your social media efforts. It’s not impossible to get them to agree if you can divvy up the work and show them all that they will have their say and get to have a hand in influencing the way your company is perceived.

After all, messaging is their job and they’ve worked very hard to carefully craft your image, respond to questions and put a good face on things. They’re not going to be able to control what is said about you out there. That’s a given. But—and this is important—they can’t do that NOW either. People are probably out there right now sending mixed messages about you and your company, and if somebody isn’t listening and correcting misinformation, it becomes true as far as the public is concerned. After all, they read it on a blog, it MUST be true!

Show your PR and marketing team that you’ll be making their jobs easier and more fun to boot. Show them the report you get from those first searches and listening tools so they know what’s out there. Make sure they have a big part in the corporate social media policy development and that they are well versed in any of the tools you want used for the campaign.

Set them up with good PR tools and social media press releases and show them how it will streamline their workflow. Explain how you plan to measure the success of what you’re doing, and make sure those metrics suit their needs too.

Sales

A good salesperson understands that building a referral network is key to getting leads. They also get that referrals don’t always follow a logical route. One of the connections in their referral network maybe in a completely unrelated industry, but a connection of that connection’s connection is a decision maker for a prospective client.

A good salesperson also gets how important it is to nurture the relationships with their connections with frequent conversations and other support.

Social media is an ideal way to nurture a large amount of connections and not only become the “go-to guy” within that network, but to support the people in the network by introducing them to each other and helping them promote their own products and services.

Once the sales staff understands this, they’re going to see the value of social networking. All you’ll need to do is get them the right tools and they’ll be in.

If they still need a little convincing, find out who is in their referral network now. Show them who in their network is already using social media and who their competition is talking to. If the business space is fairly focused, there are going to be some crossovers in the networks and your salesperson will easily see opportunities she is missing. Help her find the tools and the networks she wants to be participating on, show her how to research for appropriate connections and she’s on her way to social media success.

IT Dept

One of the biggest pain points for the technology officer is when people come in with new hardware and software demands that will take up IT’s time to support and maintain. Another huge pain point your CTO and her IT department have to deal with is the corporate culture of ignoring IT in the decision process.

Common complaints I hear:

  • It takes IT too long to vet the options
  • They always want to use something else
  • They won’t support our decisions
  • IT doesn’t have the budget or bandwidth to deal with more
  • They will shoot us down before we get started

As a web developer and a consultant, I encourage you to include your CTO in your decision making process. You might not know if other departments are considering a similar issue and solution. You might not know that IT has been carefully watching the networks and tools available and evaluating their options already. Give them a little credit and bring them in early to avoid having your own pain points later on in the process. Clearly define your goals, make lists of the tools you think you want to use (if you can do that easily), and then work with your IT department to find solutions you can all live with. Help IT see they don’t have to build a new monumental project and you’re not bringing dangerous software into their network.

Bottom line you need to use social media to prove that it works. Use your social media skills and listening tools to find the cases and data to back up what you want to do. When you’re ready to go to the CXO you’ll have a much tighter plan that you would if you just decided to “dive in and give it a go”. Much better odds of a success story of your own too!

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