Sunday, May 11, 2008

Overcoming Social Media Objections

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”Howard Aiken

As Dr. Aiken discovered, knowing which direction to go doesn’t mean much if you can’t get your team to follow. Thankfully, unlike Dr. Aiken we don’t have to convince people to buy in on an idea as crazy as building a computer at a time when phones were considered state of the art. But knowing that doesn’t make our job any easier.

All marketing campaigns come down to getting time, money, or resources and to be done properly, your Social Media Marketing campaign will likely need a little of all three. For many of us, this means approval from one or more decision makers on a marketing campaign that may be fundamentally different from anything they’ve done before.

The people considering your idea are going to have a running list going of positives and negatives. If they’re like most humans, this list won’t be entirely rational and will likely end up coming down to one major factor either way. Whether choosing new cars, new houses, or even new presidential candidates – people can usually narrow down their decision making criteria to one or two factors, positive or negative.

There’s no way to know which factors will be most critical to the people in your audience but if they’re anything like the folks I’ve been working with, here’s a few that come up almost every time.

  • “The devil we know IS NOT SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING”. This is where many good ideas have gone to die. While it’s true that building a social media project likely won’t be as predictable as a more traditional campaign, there is a healthy amount of data out there already. Besides this blog, success stories and ROI can be found on sites such as Conversations Matter, WebGuild, Groundswell, The Social Organization, and Marshall Kirkpatrick.
  • “We’re already doing social media marketing. We have a website, and it has a “talk to a sales rep” button – what else is there?” There is a common misconception amongst the uninitiated that if a company is online, it’s “connected”. As much hype as Web 2.0 receives, there are still many people who don’t get what it is, what it’s for, and more importantly where it might help. The only way to correct this is with education. In addition to collaborating on Web 2.0 projects enterprise-wide, I drive adoption through educational blog posts, workshops and webinars. I’ve found that most people, especially in marketing, have a remarkable capacity to learn about the bleeding edge but if they’re making a go/no go decision on your new project, it might be too late. The way to beat this one is early and often.
  • “OK, even if we do it with social media, how would we know if it worked?” Unlike “direct response” or “click through” marketing, social media campaigns aren’t as easily measured. Oftentimes we’re counting things like “engagement” and “connections” that don’t have a correlation to existing marketing metrics programs. At first blush, this seems like a minor point that will get fixed in time. But if your team is compensated on traditional marketing MBO’s, they might not be as motivated to kick off a social media endeavor. Marketing runs on metrics, but somehow TV and print ads get approved every year – stick to your guns, metrics are important but there are other factors to consider.

These certainly are not the only objections that you’ll run up against in trying to get your social media campaign off the ground, but they seem to be pretty common. Feel free to share objections you’ve come up against and any ideas on how to work through them.

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