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Selling Social Media to Your Boss - 8/24/2010 -

Social media communications and marketing doesnít have to be difficult or scary Ė now, you just have to convince everyone else.


By Samir Balwani


Mastering social media might be a challenge, but it definitely isnít the most difficult part of creating a social media campaign. Many times, convincing your associationís management to embrace, fund, and champion social media can be the single hardest part of introducing social media to your organization.
So how do you convince your association management to take you seriously, overcome their fears, and trust social media?


The Power of Case Studies

Show your boss and other relevant managers the opportunities social media presents. This will help build their interest. Selling a strategy is no different than selling one of your associationís memberships, products, or services. Identify and express the advantages of social media, and highlight what your association can gain.
The best way to illustrate the opportunities is by explaining what others have done. Although these arenít specifically association case studies, some good ones to refer to include:
(Editorís note: There are numerous examples of association social media success stories in Association Media & Publishingís Signature magazine and Final Proof e-newsletter, which can be searched and accessed on www.associationmediaandpublishing.com.)
 Be sure to show both the positives and negatives of social media, outlining what has happened to brands that engage in social media and those that did not. Remember, case studies should only be used to gain an understanding of the new marketing medium. Donít let management turn a case study into your next social media strategy.


Minimize Fear through Knowledge

Some association managers and marketers understand the opportunities social media offer, but donít leverage them from fear of making mistakes. The fear stems from a lack of understanding and knowledge.
As the associationís media expert, itís your job to show that not only do you know what youíre doing, but also that youíre capable of navigating the brand through the social web. Show your expertise by building your own personal brand with social media. It will be more reassuring to your associationís management if they are introduced to a new communication and marketing technique by someone who has already established and proven themselves in the space.


Highlight Competitors

Competitive intelligence is a powerful tool for communicating the benefits of social media. If your association is asleep at the wheel, while competitors (in the nonprofit or for-profit world) are passing you by, itís time to prove it.
Present an audit of what your competitors are doing, what social media profiles they have reserved, and how active their community is. Competitive reviews clearly define the potential social media holds in your association and the industry it serves, as well as highlighting missed opportunities.


Be the First

If none of your associationís or publicationsí competitors are using social media, youíre in an even better position. Online, innovation is rewarded and being first means getting the most attention.
Those that act as early adopters may end up building their community more quickly. For example, Starbucks received a lot of press when it decided to work with Foursquare to offer all store "mayorsĒ free lattes. Pepsiís announcement to fully invest in non-traditional marketing, made a lot of waves too. The promise of great exposure to your membership and industry is a very convincing argument for getting your associationís brand manager to invest in social media.


Build a Strategy

Outlining a comprehensive social media strategy illustrates your knowledge of the marketing medium and highlights the potential opportunities for the associationís brand. Itís a great way to convince the brand manager that needs that extra nudge.
Remember, most executives are afraid to fully commit to social media, so start small. Create a simple test campaign that you can use as a case study for future endeavors by your association in social media.
On the other hand, the small campaign shouldnít be the only strategy you create. As youíre creating the individual activation, build an overall brand strategy that explains the multiple ways the business can build and influence its online community.


Final Thoughts

Help your associationís leaders get over their fear of social media by outlining a clear road map to success. Online communications and marketing doesnít have to be difficult or scary Ė now, you just have to convince everyone else.


Samir Balwani is a digital marketing strategist at PMK BNC. 


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