You have the best social marketing plan on the planet. However, many of you have one really major issue…. you have no budget and no people to implement your plan. Given this, the chance that you are going to achieve your goals are slim to none.
One of the greatest challenges for marketers and business leaders when it comes to social media is often obtaining the necessary support and funding to achieve the desired goals and objectives.
We work with organizations of all sizes from startups to Fortune 100 corporations. We have helped numerous marketing leaders obtain the buy-in and support they need.
The purpose of this blog post is to share best practices to help you develop a plan that will enable you to obtain the support needed to integrate social media into the DNA of your business and help you achieve your goals.
It’s Time for a 6 Month Plan!
This article will help you set a 6 month plan for approval. I want to help you achieve early results and win the support of your c-suite and stakeholders as early as possible.
I have split this post into two sections. The first identifies 9 things you should NOT do. The second lays out specifics for how to build your 6 month plan and win approval, buy-in and budget!
In addition, the bottom of this blog post includes several templates and resources for you to leverage in your planning.
We will also be launching several classes this summer packed with strategies and tips to seriously rock your business with social and new media! Register here to stay up to date and be the first to know as well as get early bird entry and pricing -> Subscribe to Social Brand Zoom Factor Series
What NOT to do.
1. Do not try to boil the ocean.
The last thing you want to do if your organization is new to social media is to try to start by boiling the ocean. Instead, let’s start with a pond.
Instead of thinking in terms of a 3 or 5 year plan, you may want to boil it down to 18 months, 12 months and even 6 months.
2. Don’t fake it until you make it.
Faking it until you make it is not going to help you achieve success. This is where you roll up your sleeves, dig into the details and figure out how you are going to achieve measurable results.
If you are in over your head in leading social for your organization, you must acknowledge your gaps and get help. Hire an agency or consultant to help you develop a solid plan, set goals and objectives and learn how to navigate the landscape. You can then work on a transition over time to bring it more in house. Leverage the agency / consultant to help you achieve buy-in and necessary investment for the short, medium and long term.
3. Don’t work in a bubble.
Do not go into hiding away from the rest of your organization as you work on your plan. Involve stakeholders and extended team members. The more people you can get on board early in the process the better.
The worst thing you can do is lock yourself away for a year trying to do everything yourself. If you lack budget and support, your first goal is to obtain the support you need!
4. Don’t assume social is a band-aid to fix your broken business.
Social media is not going to fix your broken business. If you have problems they are only going to be more highlighted by social. Social will reveal your organization from the inside out. If you have problems, deal with them early.
5. Don’t assume your management knows what social media is, even if they nod their head.
I always say that the only dumb question is the one that doesn’t get asked. Create an environment that enables people to share their weaknesses and ask for help. Even if the c-suite nods their head when you talk about Twitter, Facebook and your social marketing plan, be sure that they are truly understanding your approach.
6. Don’t fall to Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs).
Random Acts of Marketing will eat every last morsel of ROI before you can wake up for breakfast. RAMs are for lazy marketers and although they make you feel good by crossing things off a list, they will not lead to business results. RAMs are not in the plan, not funded, not integrated and not easily measured.
7 Don’t chase the shiny objects or only focus on technology.
Social media is both art and science. Do not let the shiny objects drive your social marketing strategy, period.
8. Don’t over promise the c-suite results you can’t deliver.
Unfortunately many marketers who are trying to get approval for their proposed efforts with social media end up over promising in the process of their desperate attempt to win over the c-suite. This is a recipe for disaster. The golden rule is to not commit to or do anything
9. Don’t be impatient
Don’t let executives who are impatient push you to behaviors and tactics that will not drive desired result.
The top two reasons organizations fail and never see results when leveraging and implementing social media are being unprepared and impatient. These are two critical factors you can control. Bottom line, take time to plan and be patient with achieving desired outcomes.
How to Get Approval for Your 6 Month Social Business Plan
1. Define your mission and achieve approval for a 6 month timeframe.
If you are struggling with executive and stakeholder buy-in and approval it is not necessary that you boil the ocean. The chances of you getting approval for an 18 month, 24 month or 3 year plan are slim to none if your business is new to social media and executives don’t understand what they are approving to begin with.
A better strategy is to start with a smaller scope. Start with a very well defined plan combined with a 6 months plan for execution and budget approval. This does not mean that you will become a social business within 6 months. It simply means that you are going to set goals and objectives that can be measured.
The goal is that you establish measurable and achievable goals and win the support and trust of your management early on.
You will then be able to achieve some early and small wins. Doing such will establish trust and enable you to work on the internal mindshift changes that must take place to get your broader team on board.
2. Develop a social business strategy and plan.
If you want to achieve executive and stakeholder buy-in you must take the time to slow down to speed up so that you can develop a comprehensive plan. You must determine when is the right time to engage your stakeholders in the discussion. You must set goals, align to business objectives, develop a vision and roadmap for success, empower employees and more. Leverage these 8 steps to develop a social business strategy.
4. Select 1-3 strategic and top business goals to align social media.
The goal is to select business goals where social media can have the greatest impact.
Select goals where there can be as direct of an impact as possible.
5. Know desired business shifts.
What do you want to change because of the use and integration of social media into the DNA of business?
- Do you want to reach and penetrate into new markets and niches?
- Do you want to expand into existing markets?
- Increase brand awareness?
- Establish or enhance thought leadership?
- Increase customer loyalty and intimacy?
- Earn trust and support of loyal brand evangelists?
- Decrease sales cycle?
- Increase sales?
6. Select and measure the right Key Performance Indicators.
Key performance indicators will help you measure the business shifts. Business goals and objectives help you define where you are going and why. Select key performance indicators that help you measure your progress and optimize for improved results over time.
7. Speak the same language as your management.
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make when communicating with executive leadership when it comes to social media is measurement. Too many times they talk in terms such as Facebook likes, follows, tweets and retweets. Executive management is looking how your efforts are going to directly impact the bottom line. They want to know that your efforts will increase customer intimacy and improve customer satisfaction. A likely goal is also improving product in areas of innovation by leveraging insights from social conversations.
Learn how you can quickly align the data, outcomes and results of social to impact and align to the business goals as clear as possible.
The more you can frame your discussions with executives and stakeholders in terms they understand and care about, the greater your chance for success.
8. Know where your organization is regarding social business adoption.
- What training is needed?
- What mindset shifts are needed?
- How ready are employees? Executives?
- Do you have the resources you need?
- Do you have the technology you need?
- Assess your organizational readiness for change?
- Know your organizational strengths and weaknesses.
- Are you ready to demonstrate impact of your strategic and tactical work?
- Do you have proper measurement systems in place?
- Do you have solid business goals of which social media can be aligned to provide positive impact?
9. Know your c-suite and stakeholders.
You must understand clearly your executives and stakeholders. It’s important to know how well they understand social media and how it can positively impact your business. If you don’t know where they stand, ask them. Leverage primary research such as focus groups, surveys and simple one on one conversations. You must know the top opportunities, challenges, and obstacles. Know what keeps them up at night and what they believe to be the greatest risks and rewards.
10. Know your customers and broader audience.
Do you really know your customer? Are they ready for social media? How are they using social media today? What are their expectations from you? What is keeping them up at night? How can you provide them value by leveraging social media? You must truly get in the head of your audience and know exactly how you can serve them in the most relevant and compelling way.
11. Engage and empower.
Invite leaders on your journey early in the process. Do not wait until the last minute to bring in leaders of other internal or external organization you should collaborate with.
Work with other leaders within your organization to prioritize initiatives, identify needs for training, opportunities for collaboration and alignment of common goals and objectives.
Establish a cross-organizational center of excellence to develop and streamline processes, create consistent measurement practices, guidelines and governance.
The more you invest in employees within your organization, the faster they will be on board and active, loyal brand evangelists. You can never go wrong by investing in people both inside and outside of our organization.
12. Work smarter, not harder.
It is important you stay true to your vision and not lose sight of the reason WHY you are doing what you do. Stay focused on your goals, objectives, and needs of audience.
Working 24 hours a day 7 days a week and burning yourself out in the process is not going to get you there faster. Be careful not to over focus on technology or vanity metrics such an influence scores and followers. Focus on tactics and strategies that get you closer to your goals, period.
13. Keep it human.
Remember, success in social media requires both art and science. You must balance technology, metrics and the social network details with the needs of your audience. Don’t lose sight of the power of connecting with real human beings.
Humanizing your brand is a requirement, not an option. Be certain that you educate your executives and stakeholders on this early in the process.
When educating them, find ways that inspire them to engage personally. Help them feel comfortable using one or two of the social networks to get started. The more they can experience social media in a personal, human way, the better they will understand the importance of serving the needs of your audience, customers and broader community.
This is where the social rubber meets the ROI road. The only way to success at this point is to execute swiftly, succinctly and on plan. It is time to achieve the goals that you set.
It is critical that when you set goals in early stages that they are clearly defined, measurable and attainable within the timeframe you committed. Remember, your goal is to win early support in a short time frame. If you don’t achieve what you commit to achieve you will likely never get another 6 months.
Stay on plan and get-r-done! Need help? Need a partner for your journey? Contact us, we’d love to help you!
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