How to Sell Social Media to Management

April 4, 2013

how to sell social media to management

You’ve taken the first steps. As a marketer, you “get” social media and understand how it can move the needle for your business. However, you still have one big challenge in front of you: management. They don’t understand social media marketing and, moreover, they don’t participate themselves so they have no context to help them better grasp any of this. Let’s take a look at how to sell social media to management.

As social advocates, we really have two jobs. First, it’s up to us to stay abreast of industry best practices and emerging platforms on a channel that’s evolving at a rapid pace. If this sounds like an uphill battle, it’s nothing when compared with the Herculean second task — distilling this insight and communicating it to your internal leadership.

“Selling social media” sounds like a cringe-worthy term but it’s a reality that many find themselves facing. This is no more challenging than when the digital divide between marketer and management is vast. What’s a marketer to do when you have to sell social media to management who may be “digitally challenged”?

Atticus Knew a Thing or Two

As Atticus Finch says in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus’ advice can help you manage-up as well.

Take a step back from all of the social smarts you’ve acquired and consider what business leaders care about. While they might hide their desires behind altruistic, entrepreneurial goals, at the end of the day, management cares about three things:

  1. Making money (sales)
  2. Saving money (cost)
  3. Keeping money (profit)

A well thought out social media strategy can impact all of these. While most gravitate to how you can use social to sell more product, many have found value by lowering costs. As Ford’s Vice President of Sales Jim Farley has noted, with social media “we can lower the amount of traditional advertising. That’s where the massive cost savings have been.”

Bottom-line: Walk a mile in their shoes by showing them the bottom-line monetary impact on business.

Scrap the Case Studies We’ve All Heard

In the echo chamber of social media advocates, we all know the same case studies. We’ve all read the same books. Many of the same case studies are in all of the same books. You could regurgitate these back to your boss and see if they care about United or Domino’s or you drill deeper and find more relevant examples.

Look for businesses in your industry or, better still, show them what the competition is doing (“If the competition is scoring with this, you could too”). This may be enough to get them excited. If not, it could be enough of an attention getter that you can ladder-up their thinking from here.

If you can’t find an example from your industry, settle for something in your ballpark. If you are a complex-sale B2B business, look for a B2B example. If you are a regulated industry like pharma, a regulated case from financial services can help.

Bottom-line: Use these topical examples to gain conceptual buy-in from management and a foothold to pull the rest of your strategy up the mountain with you.

How about you? What strategies do you recommend for selling social media to leadership? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

Photo via Flickr user timparkinson
This entry was posted in Social Media Strategy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.