According to a recent report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, “More than four out of five (81%) marketers agree that we need to change the structure and design of our marketing organization to meet the needs of our business over the next three to five years.” And I’m here to tell you that if you don’t have a solid content marketing strategy that includes several components of social media channels, you’ll be left in the dust.
But how do we relay these messages to the C-Suite? Are they ready to jump on board and sign off on budget requirements for 2016 in terms of digital media and content marketing? If you’re feeling the pressure to move your organization to the next level of marketing strategy but lack the support from your manager, check out the following tips to get them on board and ready for the future of marketing:
Do your research
When I talk about research, I mean to hit it from all angles. Understand the immediate needs of your business (and marketing efforts) as well as the current landscape of digital marketing. Do you have an advertising budget? What would it look like if you took a percentage of your traditional ad budget and moved it to online or social advertising? In 2015 and beyond, paid advertising on social media has really become a mainstay; be ready to provide information on why this will prove beneficial to your organization.
Understand the channels and where your customers are hanging out. Do not succumb to the notion that content marketing and social media is for the young crowd; everyone is online.
Know what the channels mean to your business. Understand the trends in video, in visual content, in thought-leadership blog posts, in regular social media content–these all play a role in how your management team will perceive the potential success of additional social media and content efforts. Need a few stats to get you started?
- Instagram is now bigger than Twitter
- Organic Facebook page reach is down, paid advertising is up
- Facebook now boasts more video views that YouTube (and has recently introduced new video advertising)
- Snapchat has grown at a rate of 56% each year
- Gen Y spends an average of 6 hours on their smartphones, using an average of 6 apps a day (they also happen to be the largest generation with the most spending power right now. Do not ignore them)
- Nearly 2.1 billion people have social media accounts with 3.65 billion mobile users have access to the internet via smartphones and tablets
There are hundreds of stats that can prove beneficial to getting management on board the content train. Figure out which ones mean the most for your business and start there. The game is definitely changing and you want to be a part of it.
Sell the customer experience
Your marketing initiatives should be focused on your customers. Social media channels provide a means in which to reach your customers on their level and provide real-time support and customer experience. This gives your company a competitive advantage like none other–customers are looking to do business with companies that care.
One of my favorite quotes (feel free to use this on your boss) from Paul Myerscough, the keynote for The Institute of Customer Service North East Forum, was: “You don’t have to get it, you don’t have to like it, but social media is here to stay, so you have to get involved.” I completely agree. It’s not for us to decide why customers do the things they do or communicate the way they do. It’s up to us to support those needs; whether we fully understand them or not. If you don’t, your competitors will.
Think about the numbers
Companies with any kind of marketing strategy are always thinking about the bottom line–how much is it going to cost and what will those expenses mean for business? According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, in 5 years, the majority of companies will see marketing not just as a cost, but as a revenue driver. You want to have all of your ducks in a row before this happens and be in the heart of where your customers are–this includes social media.
How much more money will it cost you to seek out new prospects if you’ve missed the boat on connecting with them online while your competition is out there doing it already? Come prepared to show your boss what has (and has not) worked in the past and your strategies for keeping costs relatively low, with the understanding that you will need to put thought and resources into social media if you have been laying low so far.
Keep it simple and don’t over promise
Management isn’t concerned about how you’re going to go about implementing each tweet, Facebook post and Snapchat message. They’re interested in what it means for business and overall, how it will affect work load and additional marketing initiatives. Likewise, social media is not a fast turnaround strategy. It’s a marathon and the C-Suite must understand that if they sign off on a budget for social media initiatives, they are not going to see immediate results. Set clear expectations and don’t over promise. The beauty of digital marketing is that it can all be tracked; set up ongoing update meetings with management to show them progress as you move forward on your social media journey.
Explain to your manager, in simple terms, the benefits of social media and how it supports overall business goals. For example, brand awareness is an awesome goal to have especially for small companies or for those who are looking to reach additional markets. Provide examples of social media advertising and how it can be easily tracked and geo-centered just like, if not more than, traditional advertising tactics.
Provide visual elements or handouts that outline your company’s goals, your customer demographics (and prospective customer demographics) and the marketing tactics you’ll use to get there. Specifically call out how social media and content marketing can support these goals. Outline benefits such as:
- Establishing brand awareness
- Growing an online community of new prospects
- Increasing your database subscribers
- Increasing search engine visibility
- Utilizing brand ambassadors to share and distribute your content
- Generating user-generated content (content you know your customers want)
- Outreach to media and new PR possibilities
- Increased traffic to your website/blog that can in turn move customers down the sales funnel
- Increased engagement (key for marketers; an engaged customer will come back…they’ll tell their friends)
- Real-time, personalized communication and information–a key deliverable for marketers in the next year
Provide a list of resources
More than half of small and mid-sized companies see “lack of content creation resources” the most challenging obstacle for their content marketing success. Vet your options before approaching your management team with your grand ideas of content marketing and social media. Be thoughtful about how you envision it all playing out. If you are asking for support in this area, have a list of agencies or companies that can readily handle your content strategy or support your marketing needs before selling the package deal to management.
Be ready for rebuttals
Change is hard and if putting money into social media tactics is something that is brand new for your team, be prepared for some head shakes and a few questions or concerns as you present your ideas. Think about what those rebuttals could be before talking with your management team about your new ideas. Budget seems to be a big one I hear about; so be sure to have ideas on how you could move other marketing dollars around or why it’s beneficial to make an investment in social media for the long term.
The new landscape of marketing is a combination approach with customers demanding personal interaction across all channels. It’s not just a matter of convincing your boss that you need to spend a little time here and there on a company Facebook page. Content marketing has grown bigger than that and contains multiple channels and elements to be successful. A budget is needed. A strategy is needed. And getting the C-Suite on board is needed.
Looking for additional social media advice? As a loyal blog reader, take advantage of 50% off! Download “Best Practices in Social Media,” our 28-page eBook complete with templates, to help kick-start your social media marketing. Enter code Blog50 at checkout.