Over the years I’ve been talking about the importance of social media the most common question I get asked is: how do I influence the boss?
I used to respond to this by sharing how I’d influenced a conservative regulator to enter the space years before social was considered a legitimate channel.
My advice was:
- Commission research from an expert in your field
- Educate the executive
- Place the research in your specific industry context
- Speak the language of your executive (the business case, ROI and not ‘hey cool marketing campaign, it went viral’)
- Try a pilot
- Review, refine
But after I got asked often enough I realized I needed to get more deeply into the heads of my peers to understand what was going on.
So I flipped the question on its head and started asking:
- What social media channels are you using?
- What are you doing to position social media in your organization?
- What about your competitors?
- Who are the benchmarks for practice in your industry?
- How are you leading the change?
- What game changing technologies are you aware of that could blow your company out of the water?
I was stunned by how few people could answer.
I believe that with their analytical and creative strengths, communicators are in the best position to lead this change.
Communicators have a rare blend of left and right brain skills, they love data and know how to join the dots but they also understand creative execution and how to translate information into something meaningful to their audience.
So how do you influence the boss?
You need to understand business case for social media generically as well for your industry.
Executives are lagging when it comes to adopting social media because they are steeped in outdated myths about its value, rather than the reality.
Many believe it’s a fad though platforms like LinkedIn are 10 years old and have 200 million users, to name but one.
But until these myths are challenged and the hard numbers put in front of executives, the myths persist, ultimately doing the business harm.
Support functions must be at the cutting edge in order to lead informed debate at the executive table.
Social is one area in which you have to do, rather than just read or know about in theoretical terms.
Understanding it is about being on the various platforms, learning how people connect and share and figuring out which of those platforms is best for you and your business.
So before we point the finger up, we must point it in and be sure to have our own house in order.
You can see me talking about this here.
Next week I look at the four main social media myths and the realities of the multi-trillion dollar connected economy that will render many companies irrelevant.