There are several key older companies that still reign supreme in 100′s of different industries. A lot of these older and larger companies are still mainstays in their respective industries and some of them will probably never go away because of how essential they are.
Quite a few of these companies are also interested and curious about social media, what it is, how can they leverage it, and what path in social media makes the most sense for them and their business. If you are in charge of social media at one of these companies either as an internal employee/contributor or as a consultant, you need to drive home the most important concept for these types of clients: Education.
Take Ownership, Empower Your Constituents
If you are at the helm of social media in your company or for your client, don’t just start creating accounts on social sites, doing all the ‘cool stuff’ people expect you to do, and then wonder why no one is including you in marketing meetings or wonder why no one seems to be as excited as you. You may find that most don’t have the understanding, hence the same passion for it, that you do because they just don’t know anything yet.
Don’t get frustrated that your company isn’t into it. Maybe they need to learn first.
Social media came into play so freakin’ fast and is still like a non-stop bullet train of change that many have ever taken the time to explain it to them and get them educated and up to speed. If you approach it in a way that is all about you being the social media rockstar and make it all about you and your silly job title, then you are doing social media, and more importantly, the company in question, a HUGE disservice. Good marketing is about your ability to put your internal and external customers first and your high level excitement about the prospect of elevating others.
I’ve seen lots of blog posts about educating execs and directors on social media to get them on board. This is all great (and required) discussion. It’s obviously a big part of pitching SM to companies. However, remember that just because you sold all the management on SM, that is only the beginning. You’ve barely walked in the door of their house. Management buying into your pitch and cutting you a check is only a very early step in getting started.
As a social media professional it is your job to educate companies on the following topics (at the bare minimum):
- The pros AND cons of social media. You know the pros already but they need to be made aware of all the cons like how noisy Twitter is, the decent amount of time it takes to invest in real relationships and maintain them effectively, the risk of corporate transparency and how it holds you accountable on a new level, small mistakes can lead to huge social media brush fires on Twitter.
- Cost/ROI comparisons against traditional marketing methodologies.
- The value of “quality of quantity” as opposed to just quantity when it comes to your leads/followers/fans.
- Pick one site like Twitter, Facebook, etc. and let people ask you 8,000 questions about them. When explaining the facets of any of the sites like Twitter, etc. try and draw similarities where you can to actions your audience has taken in the past with traditional marketing so they can associate the their historical knowledge and efforts with the new lingo and tools. You may even want to ask for the details about a campaign they’ve run and then you illustrate for them the ‘social media version’.
Some Tips On Getting Started
- Set up brown bag lunches/meetings with sales, marketing, PR and poll everyone on their knowledge of social media. Make sure to note all ‘weak spots’ or ‘opportunities’ (what I’d rather call them) and start framing your education material around the results.
- Sit down with business units that interact with customers directly and indirectly on behalf of the company and find out what they’ve been doing traditionally, what has failed, what has succeeded, and figure out how to translate some of those successful initiatives into the social media equation. They’ll learn the value of social media incredibly fast if they can identify what they already know with all the new ways of execution.
- Make it your mission to evangelize internally (without sounding like some trendy zealot) how the only difference between SM and traditional marketing is the nimble nature of it because of the internet/tools. Everyone needs to accept and buy in to the fact that giving power to the people and their opinions now demands more respect and transparency and that your company has no choice but to be a part of it.
At the end of the day remember that you are only as successful as the people that genuinely back you and understand what you are doing. Social media is and always will be about everyone other than you.