“I can’t get my C-level exec team to buy into social media.”

It seems that this has become the mantra for so many businesses, particularly Fortune 100 businesses who ought to know better.

Here’s the problem. Social Media, as a genre, has been claimed by the marketing department at most companies. As they do with most marketing initiatives the C-levels let those marketers take the ball and run with it. If they succeed then super and if they fail then it’s really the marketing department’s gig and not the fault of any corporate policy.

That’s how things have been done forever. A great CEO will surround him/herself with great C-level execs in each department then give them the leeway to run their department as they see fit. Its worked this way forever so why doesn’t it work with social media?

Can you guess?

How about the fact that social media is not a one-way campaign? Rather than a company spouting off about what they do, why they do it better than others etc, a good social media campaign creates a dialogue between the company and its customers/clients. Meaning, everyone at that company has to be on the same page, iterating the same message.

Advertising campaigns can be run independently for each department because they talk “at” the audience but once a campaign is created for the social media space it’s talking “with” the audience and the voice coming from the company has to be consistent across all channels.

The great irony about the lack of buy-in from C-levels is the fact that the marketing department rarely tries to get the executives engaged in social media. Whether they feel it’s the role of their department to create and execute the campaign or they feel that the C-levels are too busy matters less than the fact that, without C-level involvement, a company will never see the true benefits of social media.

So, how do you convince them to take social media seriously? That’s a tough one. Most C-levels will scroll down to the bottom line to determine effectiveness of any campaign but what many don’t realize is that the bottom line definitions have changed with this new-fangled internet technology. All of the old measurements are moot and an entirely new dictionary is being written around ROI and brand success.

Part of the discussion has to come from tapping into members of the exec team’s passion for what they do. After all, most people do not get to the top of the corporate ladder without some sort of belief in the company they’re working for.

Find out why they love the company. Find out what they want people to know about the brand. Ask them what they tell people at cocktail parties or business luncheons. Getting to the root of their own, personal opinions about what they do and why will help move them toward understanding what social media can do for the company.

If you can successfully engage the C-level executives of your company in the power of social media to promote your brand you will get a complete top/down engagement throughout the ranks. If the bosses are doing it, everyone will do it too.

That kind of solidarity brings with it great results and a strong corporate business model.

Alternatively, as marketing department members, you can just keep going it alone and hoping that you get the kind of engagement that will allow you to keep your jobs.

Choose wisely Young Skywalker for failing to keep up is a marketers worst sin. Good luck!

Written by jax