Getting Social Media Buy-In From Above

Oftentimes we hear from someone who is eager to ramp up the use of social media in their work — starting a Facebook group or page, starting an organizational blog, or otherwise allocating some of their hours to “getting in the game”. One of the greatest challenges is when the powers that be (your boss, or peers, or board members) just don’t understand social media, and either think you’re wasting your time, or are not supportive of the initiatives you’re trying to get off the ground.

If this speaks to you, you’re not alone, and there is a wealth of support out there for you. A few suggestions:

  1. Be goal oriented. If you can frame your social media project to be in support of larger or more specific goals of your organization, then you’re defining yourself on the same team.
  2. Sometimes there are egos involved. Two thoughts here: First, give credit to your boss for great goals and big picture, so he/she feels validated, and not challenged. Second, the unknown is sometimes scary — think about how you can help teach that person about your work in an exciting and not belittling way. He/she may feel “out of date” or “being passed by”, and if you can temper these negative emotions, the whole conversation may be smoother.
  3. Find low costs ways to begin, so all you’re asking for is a bit of time, not an outlay of cash.
  4. Make sure you can articulate how you’ll measure your success, and then measure it. You must be able to declare victory in order to build trust and future support.
  5. Find relevant examples from related organizations or people who have the same job responsibilities as you do. While some leadership might assume that “all technology things belong with the IT guy”, we believe that all staff (and volunteers) need to be using the most up to date tools in their work. The phone, photocopier, fax and email are all “technologies” that we use in our daily work.
  6. Listen to their fears and objections. If someone is terrified about a negative comment on a blog, consider meeting them half way by more aggressively moderating comments (needing to approve before they go live, etc.) to reduce fears and help everyone take baby steps forward.
  7. Ask about privacy policies and any other guidelines that you should know about and use as you implement your project. Avoiding accidental mis-steps will buy you good will down the road.
  8. Consider framing your project as a “pilot” — short term, very focused, low cost – so that leadership feels they have an opportunity to reflect and assess whether the project will move forward.

Check out this blog post from The Buzz Bin on the topic, and if you’re hungry for more, read chapter 11 in Groundswell for strategies on how to move forward with social media in your organization. Better yet, buy a copy for your boss!

How have you approached “selling social media” in your organization? How have you been an advocate? How are you teaching others? What sort of feedback do you provide to others to demonstrate your impact? What support do YOU need?

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