Voices of CRM

Jul 29 2011   7:13PM GMT

Get executive buy-in for social marketing with evidence, not promises

Rosemary Cafasso Profile: Rosecafasso

Eric Schwartzman, a social media consultant, has an interesting way of explaining the difference between traditional marketing and social marketing. He likens traditional marketing to a cash transaction. It involves two parties and once the deal is done, well, it’s done. Social marketing, on the other hand, is like using a credit card because there’s a digital record.

Ah, the digital record. That’s what can get executives so freaked out about social media – the permanency of those records, warts and all.

Schwartzman, who co-authored Social Marketing to the Business Customer  with social media expert Paul Gillin, understands that getting executive buy-in on social marketing projects is no easy task.

He recently offered up a list of tips to help get that buy-in during a Social Media Today webinar. Here are just a few of his suggestions:

1-Present real evidence to executives, not just technology promises. That means collecting data about your customers and market from multiple social channels. Don’t think that social channels mean Facebook and Twitter only. Go to other online communities (and don’t forget YouTube.) This can seem like an overwhelming task because of the sheer volume of information. Schwartzman said the issue for many people is they haven’t figured out how to filter all that data. Often, people will search only their company’s name or brand.  Schwartzman suggests initially working with Google Analytics to help determine the best keywords for searches on your customers and market. Once you have the data, you can demonstrate to executives that their customers (and competitors) are engaging online and your company needs to be there.

2-Position a social project as an extension of existing operations, like marketing or customer service, rather than some newfangled approach that instantly gets an executive’s hackles up because he or she doesn’t know what you are talking about. A company is already invested in marketing and customer service, so show “how you can do these things more effectively and efficiently,” Schwartzman said.

3-Understand you could have a problem with “digital illiteracy.” This is a touchy subject. Many executives do not have time to stay current with social media tools and you need to carefully navigate through this problem. Internal training programs or industry workshops could work, depending on the corporate culture.
At an IBM marketing conference earlier this year, Matthew Smith, vice president of CRM at Best Buy Co. Inc., recommended that executives bring social tools into their personal lives so they can keep abreast of the social arena. This could mean taking the most simple of steps, like maintaining a Facebook page or posting photos on ww.flickr.com.

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