Social Media Marketing – How to Get the Boss to Buy In

Despite all the excitement surrounding social media, blogging, microblogging, Tweets, and all the other fun stuff going on the web today, I find that many marketers are having a hard time getting executive level buy in for their efforts. When asked “How many sales are we getting from Twitter?”, you probably aren’t going to have a very satisfactory answer for your CEO.

"Meet the new boss...."

Many C-level executives have a cursory understanding of the Social Media phenomenon, and need to gain a first hand appreciation for how it works. So instead of TELLING your CEO, let’s SHOW your CEO what everyone is excited about, and why they should be, too.

Below is a simple introduction to the concept of social networking, designed for a C-level audience. By using LinkedIn as an introductory path to this world, you can demonstrate how it works, why it works, and most importantly why you should invest time and resources into social media as part of your marketing mix. Don’t assume your boss already uses LinkedIn or knows how to fully use it. If he or she does, then set up a Facebook account for them instead – the idea is to help them see that folks really use these tools and spend a lot of time on them. I have walked several executives though this and it is truly eye-opening for them.

By TEACHING your boss how this works, you will raise their awareness to a new level, and probably build your relationship with them as well. Print this off, sit down and guide your leader through this, and let the magic begin! (You could cut and paste it into an e-mail memo, but that would deprive you of the face to face meeting – some things really are better in person!)


Social Networking is becoming the preferred way for people to communicate on-line. For GenX, GenY and Millennials it is replacing email as the “killer app” on the web and mobile devices – in fact for these groups e-mail is viewed as something your dad does.

The impact of social networking is profound and has implications for our business:

  • Recruiting of new hires – social networks are fast replacing traditional job boards for postings, and for corroboration of employer claims of work environment, pay and so on.
  • Customer Acquisition – increasingly, our customers are relying on social networks and online postings and reviews from other consumers to influence their purchase decisions.
  • Retention of key personnel – your employees are networked and are sharing their “Rolodex” online. As a result, it is far easier today than ever for recruiters to get access to names of key employees and their employment history.
  • Competitive positioning – technologies such as behavioral targeting allow our competition to display relevant advertising to our customers or potential customers who have visited our web site or sought out other customers. Thus free-riding on our acquisition efforts.
  • Professional Networking – easy way to find professionals and subject matter experts.

The good news is that we can obtain these competitive advantages as well.

Linked In

Linked In is a social network that is geared toward business professionals. It allows you to maintain your personal bio online, and to connect with colleagues, vendors, employees, and other s you know. Once you connect with them, you are also connected to their list of contacts, and their contacts. In essence you are harnessing the power of exponential growth as 10 of your contacts connect with 10×10 contacts (100) and then 10×100 contacts (1,000). Once you are “linked in” to this group, you can post open positions, ask questions, offer opinions, and request introductions to the group. The system also shows your network those who you know in common (shared connections).

As a professional network, Linked In does a good job insulating you from spam-y requests and sales pitches. It also offers a nice way to seek advice thru the network question and answer feature.


Registration is free – log on to and set up a new account. To create your first wave of contacts you should use the “People Search” function to see who you may know inside or outside of your organization that is already on the system. Simply invite them to connect to you – a standard invitation is provided and you can customize if you like, but it is not necessary.

Advanced users can use the LinkedIn tools to invite selected names or their entire contact list from Outlook, or any of the major email portals (Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, and Gmail).


  • Once you are connected to some folks you know, look at their profiles and their shared connections or entire contact list. You will gain insight into how the system works, but also into the folks you have connected to. Who are they linked to?Do they have lots of internal contacts, or are they very well connected within the industry?See lots of recruiters in their contact list?
  • Complete your bio – your work experiences and education will help others to find you.
  • Ask a question of the network. Try this: “How valuable is the Linked In network to helping you stay on top of industry trends?” Or try something provocative: “How many companies limit access to social networking sites during business hours and what is the reaction from employees?” Give it a day or two and see how many responses you receive.
  • Look at the job postings – would this be an effective way for us to recruit key new positions?Are our key people vulnerable to these posts?
  • Give it a week and see how many people ask to connect with you.

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2 Responses to “Social Media Marketing – How to Get the Boss to Buy In”

  1. Kern Lewis on October 14th, 2008:

    I think a demonstration of particular websites is not sufficient to win CxOs over to the social media cause. You need to generate some “below -the-radar” campaigns that get you evidence of some tangible benefit (leads, targeted consumer access, generation of buzz) to present to the executive. The executive can use it to justify his or her decision to invest money/time to expanding social media activity. Never forget that they need to defend their actions to others (the Board of Directors, say) in tough economic times.

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