How to Convince a Company that Social Media is the Way to Go

stopMy previous post listed four common reasons why some businesses are hesitant to get their feet wet in social media. In order to convince a company – whether it’s one you work for or a client that you are working with – that launching a social media campaign is truly worth their time, you need to help the company’s decision makers get past these obstacles.

Obstacle #1: Lack of Understanding

In order to help a business owner understand the value of social media, they have to gain an understanding of the value of the Web. Gone are the days of business web sites being optional for any company that wants to maximize their marketing potential, and it’s undeniable that social media is moving along on the same path.

So the first step is gaining an overall understanding of the Web and the role social media plays in developing a healthy and well-rounded marketing strategy. An effective way to do this is by outlining the benefits you can expect from an active social media presence, including:

  • Increased reach and new visibility
  • Engagement and interaction with customers
  • Improved brand recognition
  • Ongoing market research
  • Enhanced customer service

After a full explanation of the benefits, a great way to ease some of the overwhelm and lack of understanding around social media is by taking some of the mystery out the various social media outlets. Provide an explanation of the sites, how they’re used, how the competition is using them and specifically what they can offer the business.

Obstacle #2: Concerns About Brand Management

The concern that getting out there in social media means opening your company up to negative publicity is a bit inaccurate. The truth is that if an unhappy customer decides to air their grievances in a social media outlet, it doesn’t matter how active the company is; they will still be impacted by the publicity. If the business has an established presence online, however, it becomes much easier to mitigate the situation and employ some quick damage control.

Many times, this concern around brand management can easily be alleviated by introducing the business owner to some of the tools (many free) that they can use to monitor their online reputation, including some of the valuable data they can provide.

Obstacle #3: Lack of Time and Personnel

This can be a tough obstacle unless you are in a position to help the business owner devise a plan for beginning and maintaining a social media strategy, potentially even offering to take on the responsibility yourself.

Depending on the individual situation, you may be able to ease these concerns by proposing a plan that provides a chance to kick-off a social media strategy on a trial basis. If you can provide the business owner with some quick, relevant and impressive results from the trial run and a plan for an ongoing campaign, you may be able to conquer this obstacle fairly quickly.

If it’s feasible for the company, you may also want to suggest hiring a social media consultant or marketing professional to help the business owner create an effective social media marketing plan for their business.

Obstacle  #4: Belief That It’s a Passing Fad

Social media marketing is not going away anytime soon. And businesses that choose to ignore the effectiveness of it will inevitably be left behind as their competitors thrive in the new online environment.

One way to gain understanding of the sustainability of social media is by reviewing statistics. A great starting point for social media statistics is, “Statistics Show Social Media Is Bigger Than You Think,” by Erik Qualman of Socialnomics.

Once you’ve helped the business owner overcome these obstacles, it’s time to get started. Stay tuned for my next post which will provide a list tips for small businesses who are just getting started in social media.

Image credit: linder6580

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  • adamson

    I think Obstacle #5 is the business owner’s belief that they can get a student or their nephew or niece to do their social media “stuff” – just as in the early days of website development. This makes it hard to sell a serious service.

    You’ve outlined the benefits, but for those benefits to be realised the person designing and executing the social media plan needs to understand what they mean for that business, in business terms, and be consistent in representing at an engaging but serious business level within the social media. It’s rare that a junior or even an everyday outside contractor can do this.

    Walter Adamson @g2m
    http://xeesm.com/walter

  • phatman

    So many articles I read on this topic imply that it’s beneficial for virtually every business to be involved in social media. This is a broad assumption.

    I would like to see an article explaining how web developers can learn about their client’s business and their goals before providing business advice. In many cases, the benefits you listed don’t address the needs of the business or social media isn’t the right mechanism.

    To help these businesses it would be far better to help them assess what social media can and can’t do for them, whether they need those benefits, and whether social media is the right tool for the job.

    The businesses I work for don’t have a lot of time (or money) to waste following dead-ends. To recommend social networking without understanding/evaluating the needs of the business is wasting the business owners limited resources.

    When the needs and benefits match, that’s when you’ve hit pay dirt.

  • http://www.seowebconsultant.com spinball

    Hi Alyssa.
    I actually ran into issues with the company I used to work for when I brought up the idea of helping our web design clients with social media. The owner of the company thought is was something we should not focus on with clients as he saw no way that we could make money on it. I feel this was very short sighted on his part. If you need to focus on immediate benefits of social marketing, you just don’t understand it. Social media is in a very young growing stage that will change the way companies will be able to market themselves in the future. As always, well written and insightful.
    Mike

  • TheToolWiz

    Every post, every link, every reference to a company online builds up a wall of sorts. When someone posts negative crap about a company that has an ongoing policy of maintaining a SM presence, that negative stuff will have a lot harder time being noticed against a solid wall of SMM practices, vs. negative stuff being raised against a company that has no SM presence.
    -
    The positive end of SMM is like “good PR”, while the negative end is dealt with as “Reputation Management”, which is always going to be a very urgent defensive move that costs a whole lot more than routine presence on SM sites over time.
    -
    A company with no SM expertise or presence has no way to manage “bad press” created by irate customers who are net-savvy.
    -
    We are moving into an era where SMM will become a requisite part of every company’s PR department. And they probably won’t “get it” until somebody with a very wide reach starts polluting the web with negative press about them. At that point, they’ll start to see the REAL costs and opportunities behind regular, consistent, and intentional SMM practices.

  • Joe Pendlebury aka @thedillyo

    Alyssa, thank you very much for putting together this article at my request. I have a meeting scheduled with our Director of Marketing in January, at which time, I hope to convince him about how social media marketing can benefit our business. I have been pushing and persevering for somebody to take notice within our company for over 6 months now and have finally been granted the opportunity to talk directly with him. I will take on board all of your advice and will let you know the outcome of this meeting towards the end of January. Once again, I greatly appreciate the time and effort you have spent, making this information available after requesting this on Twitter (@alyssagregory). On a final note, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Take care, Joe.

  • tewksbum

    Hi Alyssa,

    Your post was recommended to me by Joe aka @thedillyo. I like your 4 step approach for breaking down the benefit / value creation rational for social media. One added step I’d recommend including in the conversation is a systematic approach for how to implement a social media marketing strategy. You need to demonstrate you have a game plan to take things from conceptual to tangible.
    - tewksbum
    TheMarketingMojo.com