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Tom Nixon

Championing social media to “The Man”

I’m liveblogging this panel session from SXSW in Austin, Texas. I’m posting this without editing. Apologies for typos or bits that make no sense :)

Social media projects have to be signed off by a senior exec. This is “The Man.” How do we get him (or her) on-side?

Q: How much does getting the go-ahead depend on an ROI model?

Measurability is essential, but not necessarily direct revenues immediately.

Examples and case studies help build the case, then constructing your own models and projections. Can spend 6 weeks to get this signed off to a board of directors.

A key metric is ‘reach.’ (not sure how this is defined though – ideas in the comments please!)

Marketing metrics: equivalency – e.g. digital advertising, CPMs.

IT – expense reduction, cost effectiveness compared to other technologies.

Peter kim: You can make an ROI model say anything you like because it’s based on a whole load of assumptions.

It’s good to understand an organisation’s existing measurement methods and try to map onto that.

Measurement frameworks that are bespoke for the organisation are the way forward (some good measurementcamp thinking there!)

Q: What non-financial measures are useful?

Recruiting new prospect contact details is a good measure (e.g. lead generation or newsletter sign-ups)

The bottom line is always profit. It may be six degress of separation but you have to demonstrate the link.

Q: What are the non-financial considerations for a social media project?

Don’t think what can social media do for us, but what value can it give to your customers.

What resources can we support the initiative with?

Look at your company culture. If you have a difficulty with losing control, you need to work on that first.

Q: What about legal?

See if you can get a ‘special pass’ – permission to try some experiments and test out the concerns.

Create common sense guidelines, e.g. “Don’t do anything stupid”
If you can show that competitors are active in the space, this can motivate execs and even legal to take a few more risks.

Involve the legal people in developing the project.

It’s a myth that entering social media means completely giving up control. Yes, this happens to a certain extent, but you can still control many aspects of your message and brand.

Q: What do you do when social media is going to create or require a culture change in the organisation?

It’s a matter of perspective. For example, you might not get the whole company blogging, but you can try to mobilise a few enthusiasts and then build on that.

Accept that you won’t be able to change the culture overnight, but you can take small steps which can lead to a snowball effect.

Show your successes and failures to the organisation. Don’t be afraid of failure. It shows colleagues that you haven’t been fired for screwing up, and shows the execs that you’re learning, responding and adjusting.

Social media will cause changes in organisational culture, but we’re still at the early stages of this.

Q: How do you deal with the different agendas of execs?

Create a bespoke case for execs and departments with different remits e.g. IT, HR, Marketing. Also slant your biz case to their individual motivations. Is someone looking for a promotion? Look at how your social media plans could help them. Even let them present your plan as if it was their own.

Q: Which departments are more or less supportive of social media?

Evangelists can come from all departments. There aren’t particular patterns to support or blockages from different people. It’s more about attitude i.e. control freaks.

Don’t assume that the younger folk will necessarily be more savvy to social media. There are some CEOs who are fired up and ready to go.

Q: Any specific examples of successes or failures?

Sharing women’s stories around surviving cardio vascular disease. Held a ‘casting’ on Facebook. Eventually received 25,000 submissions. This was a failure as they didn’t have the resource to review the videos. [wonder why they didn’t add ratings and reviews to crowdsource the review process?]

Finding the most curmudgeonly doubters and talk to them about the issues and concerns that matter most to them and then talk about social media in their context to build support.

A client in the financial industry building a community. Spent a long time getting buy-in from everyone, but eventually managed to make it happen.

Q: How do you give the first social media project the biggest chance of success so that you can sell in future projects?

Make sure it is measured so that you can benchmark.

Set expectations to all stakeholders.

Q: Top challenge to getting SM project approved?

Don’t over-engineer – keep first project simple.

Tie the project objectives back to biz objectives.

Q: Best way to achieve success?


Sharing success and failure with the organisation.

Define up front how you will evaluate success.

Q: Using things like Facebook, Twitter at work: Productivity drain or worthwhile? [ooh one of my pet topics]

Execs fear SM will be a big distraction. No different to when the web first came into the office. And no different to when computers were first installed (“oh no, people will play solitaire all day”)

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