Mon, July 06 2009

How to convince your skeptical boss that social media has merit

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Social Media •


skepticism by cbcastor via flickr


I am asked almost weekly how to convince nonbelievers in an organization give social networking efforts a try.  So I thought I’d answer that question here and as an upcoming guest post on Beth Kanter’s blog, since she’s likely given you many good ideas of how to use social media – and you’ve likely run into internal roadblocks on the road to Web 2.0. 

1. Change the subject:  If you’re having a debate over the value of social media, you’re having the wrong discussion.  The discussion should be about your organization’s goals – with web 2.0 being the means, not the end (see #2).

2. Make it about what your boss already wants:  Don’t position your web 2.0 idea as a social media initiative; frame it as your initiative to support your boss’s goals, in your boss’s language. 

3. Make it about the audience: A good way to depersonalize the web 2.0 debate is to make it about your target audience’s preferences rather than a philosophical tug of war between you and said boss. 

4. Sign your boss up to listen: Set up Google Alerts and TweetBeep for your boss, so she or he can see that there are already many discussions about your organization going on online.  Once this apparent, two things are likely to happen.  First, it will become clear that your organization no longer controls your message online – so worrying about social media causing a lack of control is not worth fearing.  That day is already here.  Second, it will be hard not to want to join those conversations online – which is what web 2.0 engagement is all about.

5. Set some ground rules:  Set a social media policy for your organization, so it’s clear how to respond to what you’re hearing - and what types of initiatives have internal support.

6. Start clear and small: If you’re going to start an initiative, make it a small one with clear goals so you know how to measure success.

7. Report, report, report: Share every little bit of progress and give your boss credit for it! 

Last – a word of caution.  Don’t think you have all the answers.  This isn’t a crusade, it’s a learning experience for everyone.  You boss’s recalcitrance may be well founded.  Make sure there IS a good case for your initiative and if it does fail, share and learn from what went wrong.  There is no shame in gaining knowledge from mistakes – for you, or your boss.

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