Even if you have the best of plans for taking your company social, you won’t get very far without buy-in from the powers that be. (Well, unless you’re a one-man show, at which point you have all the buy-in you’ll ever need!) But how do you get buy in? Do you take a risk and start your social media activity and hope that your results are so self-evident that they convince others of the need for a social media program? Or should you rather start by getting buy-in before you do anything else? In my job at Real Insurance I jumped right in and got VERY lucky in that the whole thing didn’t backfire. If I were to do it all over again, I’d take my time and get buy-in first. Here’s my advice as to how you should go about getting started.
Identify people whose buy-in you need
First and foremost, you must identify the people essential to your social media activities. Depending on the size of your organization and your company culture, this could be a varied number of individuals. At the very least you should identify people who may already be doing some form of social media or PR, be it via their official duties (for example, marketing running a campaign on Facebook) or unofficially (for example, members of service team may be corresponding with customers via Twitter). Those are the individuals who already have a taste of what’s possible and may become your biggest allies in your social media efforts.
Some possible people to whose buy-in you may need could be:
- Head of Marketing
- Brand manager
- PR people (external or internal)
- Head of IT
- Service manager
- Intranet manager
- Communications manager
Getting buy-in by involving others
The best way to get buy-in from people is to get them involved in the beginning and keep them involved as much as possible throughout the process.
In the case of building a social media program, this means getting people involved as early as the brainstorming phase. The best thing would literally be to get all parties in the room and go through some brainstorming exercises. Talk about what it is that you can possibly achieve. Think of some networks where your customers are already participating in discussions. The more ideas you generate the better since everyone will feel like they contributed something. And if people think that even a small part of the resulting plan was their idea, they’re all the more likely to support you through it. Read my social media brainstorming blog post for some suggestions of brainstorming questions.
After brainstorming, the next time you can involve some key individuals is when you’re prioritising the possibilities you’ve come up with. It’s good to reflect on the brainstorming you’ve done to see if there were any ideas that really stood out or if any particular person seemed very passionate about helping. For example, perhaps during the previous phase the group identified social media as a way to manage customer complaints better. If that’s the case, then you should probably involve the Service manager when you’re prioritising and putting together a plan of action as that’s the person who would deal with “traditional” complain management.
Interactions on social media
Once your social media activities are in place, you can look for ways to involve people in actual interactions with customers. At Real Insurance, many of our staff use Twitter to share some experiences they’ve had with our customers over the phone. For you, a way to get others involved may mean asking various people to do a guest post on the company blog or escalating certain complaints (that you get via social media) through the organization. The level of involvement will depend on what activities you undertake.
So there you have it. It might sound obvious, but if you want to get buy-in, involve people as much as possible. If they feel like they’re contributing, they’ll support you in your efforts.