Defining Social Media Buy-In

Author: Clinton Lanier
Published: May 09, 2011 at 5:22 pm
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A commonly discussed question relating to social media marketing is how to get buy-in from management and organizational leadership. How can we get them to take a social media effort seriously? How can we get them to allocate resources to our social media strategy?

This is not only a serious issue, but an unresolved one. Despite the amount of money thrown at social media campaigns by companies like Pepsi, Coca Cola, Nike and Starbucks, I still hear stories of small, underfunded strategies where the social media manager is the only person allocated to the project, and her work is misunderstood and often maligned.

Similarly, large, traditional and well-funded marketing departments sometimes don’t know how to use social media resources effectively, so they don’t. Either they try to use the SM strategy like a traditional advertising medium, or they brush it off and sort of ignore it.

So the issue is clearly still important. The question is unresolved and numerous strategists are scrambling to find the answer. The root problem with the whole issue, though, is that nobody is asking questions that precede the one about getting buy-in. Most pointedly is this: what counts as buy-in?

Is it funding? If a business provides a limitless bank account for a social media strategy, does that mean they really understand that strategy? Likewise, can a business choose to be frugal when allocating resources to social media strategies and be successful?

Is it personnel? I’ve seen SM efforts for small organizations manned by a single person that were (to use Gary V’s terminology) crushing it. Likewise, I’ve seen multi-million dollar campaigns carried out by global businesses that were positively worthless.

Is it integration? There are times when the social media team needs to be left the hell alone (article on that forthcoming), but they should never be the bastard step-children of a brand’s marketing effort.

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Article Author: Clinton Lanier

Clinton R. Lanier is the Director of Social Media and Web Communication, and an Assistant Professor of Technical Communication, at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. He teaches web and digital design, visual communication, and persuasive writing. …

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