How to Sell the Value of Social Media To Your Boss

I don’t consider myself a blog envangelist.  My role is not to walk into every client’s office and tell them to start a blog.  For some, this may be the best thing to do.  For others, getting involved in social media may take a different and more community based approach.  Either way, the one common element is that for every one of our clients that is passionate about social media and the possibilities, there are bosses, peers, investors or customers that doubt the value of social media.  In order to do anything, very often you must first convince these skeptics.  To do that, I have seen just about every technique from creating a mockup of a homepage of a blog to presenting slides of research about social media and the market.

Each of these activities is incomplete, however, and unlikely to sway the doubters around you on its own.  To help you convince the people you need to convince to do more with social media, here are the five core arguments you’ll need to make, as well as a method for how to back up each with examples:

  1. People are talking about us or our industry. Using Technorati or Google’s Blogsearch, do relevant searches for your brand name or your industry by using tags (for Technorati) and keywords (for Blogsearch).  Note the number of blogs or conversations listed and have those numbers ready to share.
  2. Their conversations are highly visible and influential. Do a search for key brand terms or industry keywords on Google and note the number of results in the top 20 to 30 pages of results that are blog posts.  Also note the relative traffic levels for some of the most popular blogs that you have found through your effort for step #1.
  3. We have no unique voice and are not part of the conversation.  Perhaps pointing out the obvious, this is a necessary step because it paints the picture that you are missing something essential and that the way you communicate needs to change.
  4. Our competitors are moving faster than we are. An important ingredient to sealing the deal is often finding 2-3 others that your business might consider competitors doing more with social media than you are.  Does a competitor have a Wikipedia page and you don’t?  Is there a MySpace group for your rival that is gaining in users?  Each will help to illustrate why and how your competitors are moving ahead without you.
  5. We can start small and work our way up.  Assuming you have painted your picture of the necessity for using social media in a smarter way – the last argument should be about action.  For this stage, you will need to think about the ways that you can get started with social media quickly and easily.  It might be by first starting to listen to conversation out there and participate in the conversation by commenting on blogs.  Other ideas include internal blogging, attending blog events, or starting to use social media tools and sites like Digg or del.icio.us.

The key is to get creative, but to stick to these five core arguments so you can sell the value of social media to the key decision makers in your organization and get the support you need to get started.  This is not necessarily a road map for what you should do, but does give you a good guide on selling the value of social media to an unsure audience.

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