SOCIAL MEDIA FOR THE C-SUITE
The Social Media tsunami has spawned a veritable army of evangelists, strategists, consultants, and would-be entrepreneurs in the fight for the Internet marketing dollar. They are marching to a subtle yet driving hymn of information overload, promising ROI, search engine domination and profitability at every turn. In the distance, tweeting, once faint, can be heard. The most ambitious of these soldiers, with laptops ablaze, have set their sights on the C-suite.
While many remain skeptical to the utility of Social Media, resistance to it is steadily diminishing. Companies can’t help but wonder if there really is something to these websites with the wacky names. They are discovering that traditional marketing is becoming extinct. Branding is the new marketing. Hence, many are turning to Social Media to help trumpet the brand. Although the non-participants are many, those that bite are finding that there is ample room on the bandwagon. We, as a society, are placing greater reliance on Internet research. When the going gets tough, the tough go online. Buying decisions are being made from impulsive, split-second surveys of text, icons, or pictures on hand-held devices. People are actually connecting with each other, making friends and “following” them, having a dialog, uploading videos, and being visible. Word of mouth is catalyzing sales cycles that were at the brink of dormancy. True drama, in the classical Greek sense, is being played out on the virtual stage. The interactive media never seem to saturate; there is always room for another point of view. “How are we doing on the bottom line?” has been replaced by “How are we doing in the blogs?”
So the mobilization, quiet for the most part, has picked up fanfare and momentum, and the march continues to the imposing, sanded, mahogany doors of the C-suite. But getting the audience is another matter altogether. There are a lot of folks competing for those attention spans.
Ironically, resistance to Social Media is most palpable at the senior executive level. Leadership does not wish to be burdened by the vagaries of real-time streaming, the cascade of must-click-here URL’s, and the piled-on monotony of status updates. That’s why they’re leadership. They outsource. So how does a Social Media strategist worth his/her salt sell these initiatives at the executive level? Not an easy answer. Packaging the intangible for consideration is an art and a science that fuses protocol with gentle persuasion. The top guns will need to hear certain verbiage before green-lighting the process. Do they really want to be in this space? Probably not, but by now they have it on good authority that they need to be. Do they really want to pay to be this space? Probably not, but it depends on how convincing the ROI rationale can be. There’s no harm in listening; there could be prosperity in it.
We are seeing increased receptivity to the outside-the-box philosophy. This Social Media stuff is starting to make some sense. Maybe it’s not a fad after all. Suddenly, perspective and vision are in high demand. In essence, to sell the C.E.O. is to sell the delegation. To sell the delegation is to isolate the need. Ideally, the ammunition will hold out.