Social Media Marketing: Forget about Your Executives

To get the people on board that you want most, you have to start by ignoring them.

Your executive team is probably the worst place to start a corporate blogging or social media marketing initiative. You’ll have to expend an absurd amount of effort just to get enough face-time to pitch it, and this will cost you months of ROI. Also, these are the folks most likely to be risk- and change-averse, so you’ll spend even longer on the task. Need a bit of investment to go with your social media marketing dreams? Good luck trying to get it from this crowd when you have no track record and only thin data from the industry.

Especially in larger companies, it may be easier to start your blog below the radar.

Before I go any further, I want to make sure you’re not misinterpreting me. I’m not advocating for rogue social media marketing or even the whole “ask forgiveness” approach. I’ve always been fanatical about enforcing message discipline and actually do see a lot of value in central management and corporate approval processes (no, I’m not joking). When you’re brand is at stake, it makes a hell of a lot of sense to ensure that people know what you’re doing.

But, there are many ways to go about this.

Ultimately, you’ll probably need your executives to approve your social media marketing initiative, but this is easiest to accomplish when you bring a full package. So, have clear and thorough plan, and get buy-in from every part of your company that has an action item on it. Demonstrate that you’re coming into the C-suite for approval as the tip of the consensus spear.

Also, make sure that the plan you present does NOT have many action item for your company’s top executives. One of the primary unspoken objections I’ve seen is that the last thing your C-suite needs is more to do or review. And, this is true: it makes sense to give your top dogs little elbow room when you can.

When you are looking for contributors and sources of information, start lower in your organization. Not only will this change the perception of your executive team, it will also put you closer to what you need anyway. The on-the-ground insights that will resonate most with your audience will come (duh) from the people your company has on the ground.

The glory of selling your CEO on an idea can be difficult to resist: there’s no equivalent to a win that big for a marketing team. And, it is impressive to have your top leaders on board … but there’s a time and place. Start at the bottom of your company and build up support for your corporate blogging or social media marketing initiative. Make it as easy and painless as possible for your C-suite. This may deprive you of your “big moment,” but at least it will get you the end result you’re chasing.

Focus on the people who matter most, and you’ll affect the right outcome for your team, your company and your target market.