How To Convince Your Boss That Social Media Marketing Is Valuable

Selling Your Boss On Social Media

I’ve been seeing a lot of folks, especially in the tourism industry, asking for help, statistics, or strategies to help them convince their boss or their new boss or their company that social media marketing has value and should be invested in going forward.

Usually those questions are met with a familiar social chorus decrying the need “in this day and age” to make that argument. Most of the responses, hell pretty much all of them, aren’t helpful and frankly are self serving. Social Media Marketers want everyone to just believe that social media efforts are effective and necessary to compete in today’s digitally centric, socially driven world.

Newsflash: You’re Wrong.

That’s right… I said it… you’re wrong. It is absolutely possible for a company, and yes, even a travel destination (for my travel marketing buddies) to completely ignore or pay only minimal attention to the social phone and still be successful.

I would dare say that if Apple neglected the social media channel they’d still sell a crap ton of products and folks would continue to line up for blocks to snap up the latest iWhatever on the first day of sales. Oh wait, that’s right… Apple does neglect the social channel and um, yep, people do still buy millions of units of the latest iWhatever within the first few days the product is on sale.

I’d also dare to say that there are numerous destinations (I’d place my home town of New Orleans in this sector) in America that could go social silent and visitor counts wouldn’t be effected in a material way.

Am I saying that brands and destinations shouldn’t use social media to market their wares? Hell no. A company or destination that ignores the social phone is missing a huge opportunity to leverage an incredibly inexpensive marketing channel. Social is like chicken soup — it may not help but it surely won’t hurt and it’s cheap.

So what am I saying?

I’m saying that folks are asking the wrong question.

The question you should be asking is….

How Do I Persuade My Boss To Agree With Me?

See that’s the real issue here — persuasion and your ability to wield it.

Ever met someone that can sell ice to an Eskimo?

Neither have I but I have met some folks that have the gift of persuasion. If you met them you’d likely say they have the gift of the silver tongue.

But you’d be wrong. Persuasion isn’t about being slick, quick on your feet or any of the common oversimplifications we like to reference when speaking about folks that have the ability to convince other people to adopt their point of view on a subject. Now, those traits certainly help, but they aren’t essential to success.

Persuasion is an art but more importantly it’s a science. So today, let’s focus on the science a bit. In fact, each of the tips below is supported by scientific evidence of it’s effectiveness.

Six Tips To Create More Persuasive Arguments

  1. Multiple, STRONG arguments: the more support points you can offer the better. No one wants to make a decision based on a single, uncorroborated data point. Two-sided arguments are better than one-sided as they show you’ve thought through the counter arguments and have evidence of why your argument is better than the counter argument. But don’t get crazy… once you’ve made your point, stop… giving someone 20 reasons why they should do something is overkill. Personally, I like three. But that’s not science, that’s just me.
  2. Relevant arguments: use support points that are relevant to the listener and your industry. If you can’t show direct lead to sales data, then don’t use sales ROI arguments to support why your company should invest in social media. Instead, you might consider using cost savings arguments. Talk about how many impressions you’re able to generate via social channels and what those cost on an CPM (Cost Per Thousand) basis vs what you’re buying in traditional or digital advertising.
  3. Authority: people listen to experts. So if you’re boss doesn’t consider you an expert on social media — maybe because your young or you haven’t been in the social space for very long — bring in an outside social media expert to make your argument for you or better in conjunction with you. Or maybe just use the consultant to “educate” the company and get your boss agreeing with your underlying support points. Then come in behind the consultant and make your case. Your other option is to become an expert in your boss’ eyes, but this will take time and continuous effort on your part.
  4. Match The Message To The Medium: If your arguments are complex or difficult to understand, write them down in a memo or report. Send that to your boss with a note that you’d like them to review it and then you’d like to schedule a meeting to go over the recommendation, answer any questions and set next steps. Personally, this my favorite strategy, even with simple stuff. Whenever I used to ask my bosses for funds, support or new technology (especially new technology) I ALWAYS wrote a memo and sent it BEFORE the meeting explaining that the memo covered off an “ask” that I intended to make in the meeting. The purpose of the memo was to allow my boss to become informed prior to the meeting and thus allow us to use the meeting time to discuss the merits of the request. And yes, I usually got what I asked for AND a thank you from the boss for sending the memo ahead of the meeting. Try it folks.
  5. Define How Your Boss Consumes Information: make sure you’re Psychologically Framing your message appropriately. The famed psychiatrist Carl Jung is my favorite on this topic. His archetype model has been used effectively for years in the advertising and marketing world to craft more persuasive advertising. I even use it to develop online personas for our client’s website and digital content marketing. You need to understand which archetype your boss falls under and craft your arguments accordingly.
  6. Avoid Targeting Strong Beliefs: strong attitudes and beliefs are very, very difficult to change. So if you know your boss has a strongly held belief that a certain social network is worthless, don’t try and change their mind. Instead, look for those points-of-view that you need to change (but aren’t strongly vested in by your boss) in order to gain support for ongoing social media marketing activities and win those points. Win your boss over on those and save the bigger challenges for a future date where you have more authority in your boss’ eyes or maybe new relevant arguments present themselves maybe in the form of a new research study.

Defining Social Media Value

As noted above under the second point — Relevant Arguments. Social Media’s value isn’t just strictly on a sales ROI basis. In fact, quite often the best argument for continued investment is cost savings vs increases in sales. Step way back, especially those of you in the B2B Sales and Marketing world. Look for ALL of the ways a social media program can benefit your company and then pick the best, most compelling ones to focus on in your presentation.

And of course, if you need help defining or presenting the argument, send me an email. Maybe I can help you out.

So what do you think? Was this helpful? Anything you’d add to the list?

About Tom Martin

Tom is 20+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and digital gadgets that helps digitally challenged companies create innovative and effective digital marketing strategies. He is the founder of Converse Digital , author of The Invisible Sale and a contributing writer for Advertising Age. Tom guides clients through the digital marketing maze and helps companies teach their sales force how to Painlessly Prospect their way to more sales. Connect with him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Comments

  1. Great article, Tom! Here’s another point to share: social is where conversations begin about a product/service that ultimately converts consumers to purchase your product. In other words, social is ALL about sales. If positioned as a sales tool, the boss understands + pays attention.

    • Rick,

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s a shame that too many folks think social is just for customer service or “engagement” and neglect the power of social tools to actually move buyers down the purchase funnel. I really see this a lot in the B2B space where the only platform they want to learn about is LinkedIn… so many of them are missing huge opps on FB, Twitter, etc.

      Thanks for the kind words. Don’t be a stranger.

  2. In a combination of #s 2 and 5, step one: Setting a clear, relatable goal for your social initiatives; a purpose that all those metrics serve. I don’t mean a “reach X fans by year end” or “establish whatever cost per social lead” goal. Those are metrics that support your primary -need-. For instance, our social purpose is to establish an engaged community of brand advocates. We measure and report fan totals, post-level engagement and identify qualitative feedback that shows whether our direction is positive or negative. I’ve found that stakeholder buy-in for social can’t be bought with buzzwords when that stakeholder just doesn’t believe in the power of social media. Human emotion and connection, however; those themes transcend trends and bring the ethereal nature of social media down to Earth. In a nutshell, focus on a “why” that inspires your consumers, your stakeholders and yourself.

  3. Thank you Tom, so many people need to read this post. As you say, if you want to convince a skeptical boss to try social media, you have to make the case for the tools in terms that SHE understands and values. The last thing you wan to do is tell your boss, who already thinks social media is a fad anyway, that she needs to pay you to set up a blog cause her company needs to ‘join the conversation’. Bosses will ONLY care about comments on a blog if you can show them how more comments equal more $$$.

    Just considering and understanding your boss’ POV will greatly improve your chances of getting buy-in.

    • Couldn’t agree more Mack. I especially like your point about a “skeptical” boss.

      A skeptic is just looking for any reason to reject your argument so it’s even more important to understand their motivations before crafting your arguments.

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