It was pointed out to me, by a reader, that while many of my articles strongly advocate getting buy in from the entire company for any social media campaign, I have yet to explain how that might be done.

Well, this article is about to change all that!

Anyone who has done any research on putting together a social media strategy knows that, without top-down engagement, the campaign is quite likely to be fraught with pitfalls.

In established, larger companies, there is often a culture that doesn’t make a lot of room for change. “We’ve done it this way for years and it works well, why change now?” It is this attitude that can break a social media campaign before it even begins. The world is changing at break-neck speed and failure to adapt is going to keep companies with that philosophy out of the loop.

So, how do you get the CEO on down to champion social media? I want to say “it’s easy, just show them the ROI.” but that’s not really the case. ROI, in a traditional sense, is much easier to accept. i.e. We spend $X on this ad and our revenues increase by $Y amount. With social media it’s gaged differently, but have no fear, I have a nifty chart that will help you explain how ROI in this game works.

The most important aspect of getting the exec team to buy in to the social media philosophy is to get them psyched about it. There are a number of ways to do that depending on the sort of company you’re dealing with.

The first thing you’ll need is a detailed plan. Executives love a plan! The plan needs to include how much it will cost as well as what the company has to gain from the strategy.

There are many reasons why C-level (CEO, CCO, CIO etc) executives don’t want to be part of social media; no time, fear of offending someone etc. However, if you can show the executives, in your strategy, that you can address these issues satisfactorily then you have won half the battle.

While creating the plan you also have to ask yourself “Can my CEO engage authentically?” Some can’t. Some C-level execs are just too wound up to think about the end user. That happens. If that’s the case you’ll have to work out a way that he/she can communicate with your client/customer in consistent, small doses. Small enough that the sentiment is true.

It may cost some brownie points but sometimes a gentle reminder to the heads of the company about company philosophy and core values is all it takes to get those execs to remember why they do what they do in the first place.

If social media is about humanizing the brand, the C-levels must be…well…human. If they cannot, or will not, engage with the client or customer then you probably have a problem. An executive team that has forgotten about providing value is one that will likely not see the value of social media.

If reminding them about the brand doesn’t work you can always try to point out the competitive edge social media gives any company. Perhaps pointing out successes a rival has had with particular social media engagement will work.

“Look at X company! Holy cow, that’s a message from the CEO on Facebook! And look at all the comments. Wow!” Most executives are in the position they’re in because they are very competitive. Use that to your advantage!

Ultimately the onus will be on whoever is the social media champion. If it’s the marketing department then they better do a great deal of research on the C-level execs to make sure they are able to approach them in a way that will make buy in a no brainer. Remember that humanizing the brand means using the humans behind the brand. Find the humanity in the exec team and find a way to leverage that to engage the clients and customers.

Written by jax