Traditionally, the C-suite and advisory boards of larger corporations have not been directly involved in their brands’ social media voice and community engagement. Social media conversations are happening about your brand right now. If you are not monitoring what is being said and responding to these comments appropriately, your organization’s reputation may suffer. Furthermore, your competition could engage away your target customers in social.
These days, decision-makers are doing their due diligence and reading online reviews and case studies of your business. You know that you need to be present and leading positive conversations in social, but you may be facing resistance or fear from upper management. To build your case, there are steps you need to follow.
Show Management How Brands Are Delivered in Social Media
It is crucial that upper management understand that brand delivery in social is unlike delivery in direct response. To maintain credibility in social, the brand must constantly offer engaging messaging and content, driven by a keen understanding of the content needs of the audience. The marketer must have expertise in representing the brand through social media marketing opportunities such as social advertising, content marketing, group and forum participation, and real-time customer service engagement and acceptable response times. The most important duty here is to remain authentic and provide thought leadership.
Show Client Engagement by the Numbers
Besides brand lift and increased awareness in social, executives want to see qualified lead generation and online sales driven from social media activity. Of course, this is the Holy Grail for online marketers. Walking into the boardroom with a report that clearly shows an increase in leads and sales from social media activity will certainly sell the case.
Learn From Your Competitors’ Success in Social
Social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube make it fairly easy for you to review your competition’s social activity and engagement strategy. Share competitors’ volume of activity, social media fans, content strategy, and engagement levels with the executive team.
Illustrate Where Your Organization’s Online Brand Sentiment Sits (Positive/Negative/Neutral)
Understanding whether your engagement in social media results in a positive, neutral, or negative response with your target audience is crucial when developing your brand via social media marketing. Track sentiment using specific brand keywords, and assess sentiment by content type, time, and industry.
Use SEO Factors as a Selling Point of Social Media Marketing
Executives want to know that their online brands are gaining top Google exposure. What they do not necessarily know are the social factors that influence organic search rankings. You need to show management where social positively influences brand position in the major search engines. SEO and social are increasingly becoming paired, and key executives investing in SEO need to understand this.
Create an Itemized Breakdown of Social Media Costs and ROI
Social media marketing is more than a full-time job for one person (the social media manager, if you will). It requires buy-in on messaging, content, measurement, and goal setting across the marketing, sales, and C-suite teams. The ROI of social, when measured with advanced social media monitoring tools, is clear. Present to management a line-item breakdown of how to budget for social effectiveness on an annual basis.
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This column was originally published in SES Magazine, Toronto 2013.