Building a Business Case for Social Media
It’s 2017. You’d think that marketers wouldn’t still be convincing executives that social media is a vital part of your marketing mix, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. We hear frustrations from marketers at all kinds of organizations – B2B, B2C, Nonprofit Organizations, NFL teams, Universities – you name it! The good news is that it doesn’t have to be such an uphill battle. We’ve put together a few actionable steps you can take to clearly communicate the value of social media to your executive team and even persuade them to invest in more social efforts.
Frustrations we hear:
- “I can’t get more budget for social media even though it’s where our audience is”
- “Our executives don’t realize how much our competition is investing in social”
- “I know social media has helped the company, but I can’t show how”
- “I’m overwhelmed and I can’t convince anyone to approve budget to help me”
- “Senior leadership treats social as an afterthought”
- “Our audience is growing, but I can’t explain why”
Align Your Goals
How do you convince someone to jump on board with your idea? You do research to find out what’s important to them first. Then, you do some critical thinking to align your goals. How can your proposal help them achieve their goals?
The same technique applies to prioritizing social media. Start by aligning social media with existing team, department or company goals. You need to be able to demonstrate that your social media efforts are needed to support broader company objectives. Show them where social media fits.
Your company has a goal of increasing their NPS (Net Promoter Score). You have a goal of increasing budget for social media efforts. Think about and understand all the ways that social media might be able to help increase your company’s NPS. Then, tell them a story about how social can be used to improve customer loyalty through sharing content your audience is interested in, increase customer retention by using Twitter as a channel for customer support and creating better communication with your customer base by having timely conversations with them. Because tying movement on the NPS needle directly to a social post is unlikely, explain to them that you want to see if there’s a correlation between content engagement and NPS or Twitter support use and NPS. It’s not a perfect science, but you’re making a logical argument that can be measured in a proactive way.
Demonstrate that Social Media Drives Revenue
One of the most difficult challenges marketers face today is the expectation that every marketing dollar spent could and should be tied to revenue. In reality, there is implicit value to many marketing efforts that we simply cannot assign an accurate ROI. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. If we want something from someone, we need to be able to speak their language. For many (not all) executives, that language is in terms of dollars.
Tying social media activities to revenue can be difficult, but it’s the best argument for increasing investment in social media. Find a way to show that social posts are driving new leads, customers or revenue to grow the business. One way we do this is by tracking EACH SOCIAL MEDIA POST. Yes, I said it. It’s time-consuming, but it works.
You can do this by using Urchin Tracking Modules. A UTM code is a simple code that you attach to a URL to track the source, medium, and campaign of your traffic. It tells Google Analytics where your prospects and customers came from (source), how they found the content (social media), and which campaign it was associated with (campaign; content). There are additional values you can track too including campaign name, term and content type to differentiate your ads. Start by using Google’s Campaign URL Builder.
At Rival IQ, we use a social media account management tool called Buffer. We schedule our posts weeks in advance (with a little wiggle room for timely content) and Buffer automatically assigns a unique tracking code to each post. When I open Google Analytics, I can see exactly which lead conversions initially found us through social media. That’s lead generation, and leads have a dollar value assigned to them.
Explain the Power of Promotion
This is where the implicit value of social media marketing comes into play. Increasing engagement, attracting top talent, solidifying your reputation and communicating with customers and prospects quickly all have immense value to your organization. This is like second-nature to you, but not necessarily to your leadership team. Be able to help them understand that social media is the central place where potential and existing customers will engage with your brand.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Do you check your email, news and social media on your phone in one hand while hitting the snooze button with the other? So does your audience. Your brand needs to be in front of the millions of people who do the exact same thing in their morning routine so they’re thinking about your brand, product or service throughout the day. Social media is like the modern-day billboard. Get in front of your audience and promote your brand where your potential customers are already going – on social media!
Anticipate Objections To Your Argument
Know going in that you’re going to get push-back. Understand why social is not a top priority at your organization and address it directly with facts and data. Bringing data to an emotional fight is a quick way to win an argument.
Common arguments you might encounter:
- “Social media doesn’t contribute to revenue”
- “It’s a B2C concept”
- “An intern can do it, so it must not be important”
- “It’s inexpensive and you’re only going to get out of it what you put in – nothing.”
Come to the meeting with a rational argument that is solutions-driven and backed with data to make your points. If you don’t have data to make your point, then ask for the resources (budget, time, headcount, etc.) to test things out on social media to collect the data you need. Your manager will appreciate your logical approach, taking initiative and asking for the opportunity to collect the information to make your argument for an investment in social media.