Consider this – of the 3 billion active users of the internet across the globe, 1.7 billion people have active social media accounts. Furthermore, the 2012 State of Inbound Marketing report has mentioned that social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. Beyond doubt, social media is an efficient and effective platform to increase customer engagement and revenue. Yet, there seems to be a conundrum when it comes to social media investment – not everyone is on the same page and top management is no exception to it.

It is no secret that most marketing managers face a challenge in convincing the top management to allocate marketing budget to social media. Reasons range from the lack of globally accepted metrics to measure ROI to the low usage rate of social media platforms by the C Suite itself. Irrespective of the cause, the results point to an inadequate or possibly no budget for social media activities. Getting the top management buy-in for social media investment is crucial to brand managers that wish to leverage the growing digital and social media space; here are a few approaches to help you gain the C Suite approval for your social media strategies.

#1 Understand the C-Suite mindset
To create and execute a successful social media strategy, it is imperative for the marketing manager and the top management to work together. This roughly translates to you and the CEO being on the same page. It is not always possible to get the top management to see things from your perspective; try to present a picture in a way that will appeal to them. Since the C-Suite works with a hawk’s-eye perspective, approach them with relatable terms – place before them the direct results of social media investment. Speak to them using benchmarks that align with their outlook on the vision for the business.

#2 Show them the revenue
The universally accepted term of measurement of success for almost all forms of businesses is revenue. The C Suite is most comfortable with investment proposals and budget requests when they know or have a fair idea of the returns. Therefore, it is best to approach them with a clear, no-nonsense and well-rounded plan that outlines the investment amount, costs, revenue projections and bottom-line impact of social media investment. These metrics need to be weaved around the social media fabric to give the top management the feel of the real deal – that social media platforms are great for the business.

#3 Present a competitive analysis
The “why are they doing better than us” approach works, even for social media buy-in. Undertake a thorough analysis of your competitors, specifically in the social media context. Identify what platforms they use, how they communicate with and engage their audience, and how it translates into hard and soft benefits for them. Convert all possible metrics – keyword phrases, ad spends, engagement rate per platform and so on, into easily comprehensible terms. Tools like Agorapulse and Sharegrab are quite useful to perform a competitive analysis. They present an overview of your competitors’ performance vis-à-vis audience engagement, and help you identify and monitor competitors’ brand pages.

#4 Walk them through online product conversations
Showing your CEO real-time conversations about your brand that your audience is partaking in will give them a better perspective as to the presence of target audience on social media channels and the need for the brand to interact with them via those channels. If possible, create and execute one or two campaigns that are highly focused on your target audience and are easily measurable; use these campaigns to showcase the impact of social media activities. The feel of a live campaign could generate favorable interest in the top management towards social media mix in the marketing campaigns and direct their approval towards the much needed investment.

#5 Create and present an actionable plan
To tie everything together, present a comprehensive social media strategy to the top management, complete with internal and external goals. Your plan should be indicative of the different social media platforms that you would employ and how you would utilize each, the content strategies you would devise, and a high-level insight into timelines regarding investment and returns. Ensure that you clearly explain the social media specific metrics that you would use to measure performance such as cost per site visit, cost per impression, advertising costs and engagement rates and so on.

Securing C-Suite buy-in for social media investment is not child’s play; neither is it a gargantuan task. Approach them with a clear plan backed by tangible metric-based data. You can utilize free tools such as Google Analytics to start with. The selling point will be struck when you can demonstrate the immense value that social media marketing strategies can add to your brand, hence justifying the need for social media investment.

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