Getting on the social media playground needs executive buy-in

Getting on the social media playground needs executive buy-in

Social Media | Judette Coward-Puglisi

March 26, 2009



I stopped experimenting with social media a long time ago. It happened after my firm won a contract with a multinational company. The company’s VP of Communications had read one of my blog post on (International Association of Business Communicators). The piece took me 30 minutes to write, my firm won a 12-month contract. Seems a fair tradeoff; I have been hooked ever since.


I fed my addiction like any junkie by getting a steady fix. With an engagement strategy in place my staff and I identified spaces we could build and invite persons to be part of. For instance, our blog has received more 15,000 unique views and over 500 comments in 13 months.   And last year, I took an even bigger step by devoting 85 per cent of our  budget (yes small firms should have one too)  to interactive marketing producing, a 12-month campaign using only new media elements: twitter, podcast, video and blogs. All the links are interactive and they were all designed to be shared. This was not an experiment. Our turn to social media was anchored in measurable objectives and was connected to the fact that our audience was niched and we could reach them with messages they cared about and could of course, spread.


I am not alone in carving this strategy. Recession strains budget (in fact 50 percent of corporations surveyed in Forrester Research (US) on social media report they are increasing social media spending in the face of the economic free fall) and puts even more  pressure on marketers to deliver measurable results at, you guessed it,  lower price points.  But that’s where marketers can get their high. Social media is inexpensive (most tools are free but you still need strategy, contacts, tools, and experience) and they are designed to get marketing messages out through interactive discussion and rapid word of mouth. The trick is to manage the campaigns properly so they lead to real results and demonstrate value. But that’s the easy part. Any modern marketer worth his/her salt knows that connection is the end goal. Connection between the firm and the customer is great, but more important, is the connection between customer and customers because that is where the passion for the product and desire for information, spreads.    Executives who have been trained to focus on the 4Ps are often far removed from the real connective possibilities of new media.

 Take a look at real conversation I had recently: 

CEO: We are thinking of generating cash through our site, by having other web sites link to us and getting on line communities to talk about us and refer us. 

Me:  What is your goal for that traffic? Who’s the target?

CEO: Hmmm $200,000 might be great place to start. We can to see how much traffic social media can generate.

Me: What support will you give to your "experiment"? Does your budget include search engine optimization? PR? Google advertising? Company blog? Advertising on targeted blogs? A forum? An interactive website? Content sponsorship? Sponsored blog posts? Videos?  Email campaign?

CEO: Those cost money. I thought you said new media was cheap. I read it was free.  We don’t have budget allocation for any of that. 

Me: Which person e  staff then will have this campaign as a full-time responsibility?

CEO: Nobody. Oh! You know what? Give it to Adam, he’s always talking about how much he likes Facebook

Me: Oh great, then can we create a blog? Flickr group? YouTube videos? Twitter? We will need people to find us and of course given them content they can share. 

CEO: Hmm. Everything we say has to pass through legal first and approval can take several days. All content will need to be scrutinised carefully. I am afraid we can’t do that.

It’s only when these conversations change can marketers start to allocate real budgets to social media campaigns.


2 thoughts on “Getting on the social media playground needs executive buy-in

  1. this morning I just wanted to say ‘thankyou’. I just read-

    Getting on the social media playground needs executive buy-in

    And it’s like you are in my head. We need buy in- I need buy in and it can be so frustrating. That conversation you had reminds me if conversations I have every week and I finally convinced them of facebook but everything has to pass thru legal etc as well.uggghhhh.. how frustrating but I am trying to hold firm and your articles always give me some hope and make me realize I am not alone in this battle.

    Thanks again and keep up the good work!

  2. AA then you get the point of being on this blog, shared experiences.

    The conversation I referred to in my post happened in a financial institution as well. And in that world there are still too few bankers who get social media and web 2.0. And there are still too few social media champions and evangelists in the financial industry.

    Maybe the fear is confidentiality. Maybe the thinking is, "we do so well already without social media why give it a try?"

    I see social media as a great opportunity for banks, financial companies, insurance firms to connect with their publics. It’s about customer advocacy, transparency, honesty, engagement and reward.

    We just have to find a language that Legal understands and present to the Board in that coded communication.

    The truth is we need to create and monitor conversations that are happening as part of the brand engagement, if organisations refuse to provide avenues for their publics to congregate and aggregate opinions (whether to champion or criticise), then people are just going to find other places where they could. And on those spaces, organisations will have little control.

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