Selling the C-Suite on Social Media

One of the popular questions I get asked is “How do I build support for a social media campaign at the C-level?” To get decision makers like your CEO and CFO behind a social media campaign, you must have a well defined objective. Ask yourself, “Whabosst do I want to get out of my campaign?” Do you want to enhance customer service, corporate reputation, brand personality? Or, do you want to generate new leads for your business?

Your social media strategy will vary depending upon your objective. But once you have a concrete objective and strategy, you will need to be able to articulate to the higher-ups how your company will be able to demonstrate the campaign’s effectiveness.

The question about how to measure the return on investment (ROI) for social media participation comes up in every workshop I deliver. The fact is, you can measure ROI in a number of ways:

Participation: The extent to which users engage with your content. For example, blog comments, Facebook wall posts, or YouTube ratings.

Traffic: The number of unique visitors versus repeat visitors to your Web site.

Influence: The number of users who subscribe to your content. For blogs: RSS feed or email subscribers; Twitter followers; or fans of your Facebook page.

Authority: The quality of inbound links to your content

Unfortunately, regardless of your social media campaign’s objectives, your C-level bosses will still probably scratch their heads at these measurements because they will not be able to connect the spend with quantifiable results. The fact is, we can’t attach a dollar value to a conversation, visit, link, comment, or a friend request like we can do with advertising and ad equivalency ratings.

So, you have to convince the C-suite to look at it another way. One way I like to think of ROI is the Risk of Ignoring. Conversations about your company’s products or services are going to take place online whether you are aware of them or not. Many consumers increasingly expect that their online ruminations will be monitored and responded to in real-time. By joining social networking sites, you can listen to your clients, engage them in conversation, address their questions and concerns, and empower them to be ambassadors of your brand. Otherwise, you risk ignoring your clients and prospects and risk losing them to competitors.

But, as a social media marketing advocate AND as a small business owner who understands the importance of watching the bottom line, the way I like to measure the ROI for social media participation is by the number of quality new business leads generated. At 451 Marketing, we generate business leads for our clients by monitoring the Web for mentions that relate to their offerings, engaging current and prospective clients in conversation, and providing them with helpful information (i.e. white-papers, podcasts, webinars, wikis) that we develop to address their needs. When an individual expresses a need for one of our client’s products or services or downloads content, we turn their contact information over to our client as a qualified business lead. If our client’s sales team converts that lead into a win, that’s a measurable dollar figure that they can take to the bank.

AJ Gerritson

AJ Gerritson is the Founding Partner at 451 Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @AJGerritson

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