The best part of social media is that it can be embraced and enabled for little to no financial cost — but that same trait also makes it difficult to measure.
(This is where I’ll drop the term Return on Investment which I love and hate.)
You see, I get emails every week from people asking me how they can become better social media leaders in their own companies. When I ask them what’s stopping them from jumping in, they tell me that they have to get permission.
Blech…permission. I have always loved the phrase:
But I know that’s easier said than done.
So, here are a few tips that you can use when going to your boss and volunteering your services in social media.
1. Watch this video from Socialnomics.
If you do nothing else, watch the video, then share it with your boss. (embedded below)
2. Find others in your space who are using social media well.
(I’m talking screenshots, links, videos, etc.) Prepare a short but compelling report. (Basically, a SWOT analysis.)
- If you’re in healthcare, point the powers-that-be to Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Portal.
- If you’re in sales or customer service, point your boss to DellCares on Twitter and Zappos’ special Twitter page.
- If you’re in food services, see how social media revolutionized the food truck trend.
- If you are in a traditional industry not listed above, see how Audi used a single hashtag to leverage its Superbowl ad.
Why? The point is, if you’re not offering service through the latest tools, your opponents and competition will. And if you can show some flashy, headline-grabbing examples, you’ll be in good shape.
3. Do the math.
I know that many of you will be trying to convince your boss that it’s worth it to spend your time (which to you is free but to the company is spendy) and maybe a small amount of money.
If you can, come up with your counter-argument before you’re ever on the spot.
Mashable says it best in this post:
As a standard formula, ROI is pretty basic, ROI = (X – Y) / Y, where X is your final value and Y is your starting value. In other words, if you invest $5 and get back $20, your ROI is (20 – 5) / 5 = 3 times your initial investment. In the financial sense, ROI is measured purely in the context of dollars and cents, however, the principles can really apply to any type of investment — monetary or not.
So if you can apply math to your own situation, you will have a good case. Let’s say you’re a widget salesman, and one widget sells for $50. You make $25 an hour. So if you can show that a one hour investment of your time ($25) that returns four sales through social media ($100), the company is ahead $75.
And since the company’s current revenue from social media is $0, that’s a pretty good jump. If you can get your boss to agree to one month of social media marketing, you could bring in enough money to really change his or her mind about its value.
4. Assign a value to branding.
This one is tricky, but worth it. If you’re not a widget salesman, but instead, you’re in charge of customer service, perhaps you can assign the same type of math to lost customers. Because the people that you’re dealing with may not be buying anything now, but based on your interaction with them, they may come back in the future.
So you need to take the same $50/sale value, and prove that every customer who does not buy your product is a LOSS. And should be counted just as much as a customer who does buy your product.
How can you do that?
- Track what people are saying about your brand right now, and put together a sentiment report — the good vs. the bad. If you feel comfortable with it, reach out to some of those people who Tweeted or posted on their blog about your brand, and ask them if their problem was ever resolved. (See this post: “What the World is Saying About You.”)
- Take a survey — see what people say about your brand (anonymously). On a scale of 1-10, do they like you? Would they buy your product? Recommend you to their friends?
If you can prove that without using social media, good customers are being lost, you should grab your boss’ attention.
5. Offer a trial period.
You need time to make all social media campaigns work — to set them up, to market, to actually reach out to customers…
But an open-ended project might make your boss nervous. So consider offering your time (at your current salary, etc.) in a limited, measurable project.Examples:
- Offer to start a new tab on the existing Facebook page, including a contact form, embedded videos, etc. Once that is created, set a reachable goal — perhaps to increase your page “likes” by 20% in 2 months. Or get 500 new newsletter subscribers. Whatever your company’s goal is, work toward achieving a small victory first.
- Agree that after a set period of time — say, 2 months — you’ll provide a detailed ROI report, including the most relevant analytics (sales, page views, new customers, amount of inbound calls, etc.).
- Tell your boss that rather than find new customers/clients, you want to use social media to do some damage control on what has already been lost. Start a database of all negative sentiment about your brand, and reach out to those people, one by one. I guarantee that if you explain that you’re working for a company that is slow to embrace social media, but that you’re trying to change things, you’ll get a LOT of support. People will root for you and want to help you.
I know this all still might seem like too much — but the first step is making the offer to help get social media started for your company. Before you ever ask for a meeting or call the top brass, make sure that you know what you’re talking about. And when in doubt — go back to #1 on this list.