Is having legacy social media marketing software holding you (and your company) back?
You’re tired of “doing social media.” And as the marketing manager/social media manager at your company, you should be. It’s exhausting logging in to all the different social media platforms, posting weekly (if not daily), tracking the performance of your posts, responding to questions and comments, and staying up to date with social media marketing trends and relevant hashtags in your industry.
Plus, you manage the calendar, create attractive images, write engaging social media content, and compile extensive reports for upper management.
So congratulations—you’ve determined that purchasing social media marketing software could be an incredible asset for making you even more effective at your job than you already are. The software will save you loads of time every day, enabling you to be more strategic in your planning.
Here comes the (probably) most difficult part: Getting C-suite buy-in to purchase social media marketing software.
Depending on number of users, social profiles, and other features, this software will be a sizable expense and could require budget approval. In addition, it could represent a workflow change within your team or the company as a whole, which would require training.
To get management buy-in, you need to be armed with the right information, including:
- A clear definition of the problem
- Why the software you’re recommending is the best solution
- The cost savings and/or potential revenue generation the tool will provide
As our good luck would have it, Social Media Consultant Ian Anderson Gray, along with the advice and expertise provided more than 40 of his astute colleagues—including myself—has compiled an incredible social media resource for solving your problem. “How to Buy the Right Social Media Management Tool” is a buyer’s guide that compares 13 social media management tools side side so you can decide which tool is right for your business.
Before presenting anything to management, you need to get your ducks in a row. That starts knowing exactly which tool is right for you. The buyer’s guide features an in-depth checklist to determine your must-have features—and those that you can live without. To further assist, the buyer’s guide also provides a list of many factors to consider when choosing social media marketing software.
Once you’ve collected all that information, you’re ready to use the sortable comparison chart to find out which tools offer the features you need. Once you’ve determined the best tool for your company, the real work begins—getting approval from the C suite.
Let’s face it: For most of the folks in management, the decision comes down to money. So, the number one thing you must explain is how purchasing the software will save money and/or generate revenue (i.e., the ROI).
After you have that critical data in your back pocket, follow these additional seven ideas from industry experts to help you get C-Suite approval on your shiny new tool.
1: Test the Social Media Marketing Software to Prove Your Point
Most social media management software available today comes with a free trial. Take advantage of this, especially with the tool you want to eventually purchase. Then, track your results so you can illustrate the impact it had on your productivity—even just one week.
“Test the tool and do a small case study,” suggests Dennis Seymour, founder of LeapFroggr Marketing. “This will give the decision makers or the team a clear reason to invest in a new tool.”
If management is able to see the difference in black and white (and notice that you’ve done your due diligence and have taken the tool for a test spin), you’re one step closer to approval.
2: Explain the Time Savings
Although money is most likely the number-one factor for management, time also is money.
If you can illustrate both time savings and an increase in staff productivity, you’re two for two.
In fact, if increased productivity isn’t a factor in evaluating your chosen tool, it should be. “It’s really important to assign financial value to your time and your team’s time when evaluating the cost of a tool,” explains Anne Popolizio, founder of Social Squib. “If the tool improves your team’s efficiency, that saves you money.”
Diligently track your time for a week, noting exactly how long every step takes you and how many times per week you complete that task. Next, when you opt for the free trial of the tool to test it out (see #1 above), go through the exact same tasks and note the time difference. With one week’s worth of data, you can compile a month’s worth and even a year’s worth of savings.
Also explain what you’ll be able to do with that extra time. Focus on social media marketing strategy, drive more lead generation, dive into the data to make more effective decisions, or whatever exciting initiatives you and your team can take on to make more money.
3: Know Your Audience
A comedian doing a set in Pittsburg probably won’t make jokes about the Steelers because he knows his audience (and values his life). In the same vein, know who you’re pitching to and what is important to them—goals, KPIs, expectations, and such.
“Put yourself in their position,” says Ben Fisher, lead consultant at Steady Demand. “Would using and paying for a social media management tool make sense to you? Is the tool ‘a nice to have’ or a ‘need to have’? State your case, be logical, show the saving or reasoning behind the purchase.”
In addition, identify exactly what the C suite wants to know about your ask as well as the format that they want to see it in. Mike Allton, author at The Social Media Hat, says that this information will make your ask much easier.
He also gives some tough love that might be hard to hear.
“It’s likely your boss isn’t interested in what will make your life easier,” Allton says. “Even though a great social media management tool will do just that, we’re being paid to do a job and whether it’s easy or not doesn’t really factor into business success. Instead, focus on how the business will benefit, whether that’s time or efficiency or capability or cost or something else.”
You’ve taken the time to do all the research on the tool; take the time to do a little research on the person you’re asking for the money to buy it.
4: Demonstrate Impact, Not Details
When you pitch to management, start with the area that will be impacted most positively.
Jacob Warwick, founder of Discover Podium, says that concisely explaining the single biggest impact will lead to a faster decision—especially if the tool is solving a business-wide problem.
“If the need is specific, you must lead the conversation with how the tool solves that problem—even if it solves 10 other subproblems as well,” Warwick says. “You don’t want to bombard management with ‘It solves this, and this, and this.’ ”
Most experts agree that your pitch should not include all the bells and whistles that the software offers. Those details will be distracting and are, frankly, important only to you and your team.
Amanda Robinson, founder of The Digital Gal, says, “From my experience, Management doesn’t care about the fine points on exactly what the tool does. They simply need to be able to justify the expense or the change in process to their higher-ups, and you’ve done all of the hard work for them!”
Keep your details to a minimum while focusing on the maximum benefit to the company.
5: Understand the Social Media Marketing Software’s Technology Roadmap
Your social media marketing software will be a big investment, so make sure that the creator is nimble and ready to respond to the constant changes in social media. So, it’s important for the C-Suite to understand that you’ve chosen a product from a forward-thinking company —because management won’t want to change tools a year from now.
I am a firm believer in this concept. Using an inferior social media tool, or one which has stopped innovating while others have advanced, could cost your social media efficiency, and ultimately your marketing ROI dearly.
Don’t be afraid to ask the creators in-depth questions about how their development team reacts to changes, how often they roll out new versions, and how much beta testing they do on new versions. You’ll want to know the answers to these questions because you’ll probably be asked them, especially if the CTO is in the room.
6: Illustrate the Consequences of Doing Nothing
Your pitch to management is airtight with cost justification for purchasing it. But what is the cost of not implementing social media marketing software? Showing the negative financial impact is a very compelling argument as well.
The best way to do that is mapping out both scenarios over the next year or two, suggests David Leonhardt, owner of The Happy Guy Marketing. He says to look at costs, staff time, and missed opportunities if you don’t purchase, and compile a side--side comparison chart with the same factors of buying the software.
“Usually, all you have to be able to show is that you will break even on costs,” Leonhardt says. “Then the time savings, the missed opportunities, and other benefits will all be gravy. The big bosses won’t even care the order of magnitude—profit is profit, and that’s what those other factors represent.”
Again, the decision comes down to money and what the long-term savings could possibly be, not just the justification of the initial cost.
7: Have a Clear Implementation Strategy for Your Social Media Marketing Software
Any new piece of software will have an impact on the business. To make sure it’s a positive impact, have a clearly mapped-out strategy for implementing the tool. That includes installation, set-up, training, and ramp-up time.
Jo Saunders, LinkedIn trainer at Wildfire Social Marketing, suggests looking beyond the price to consider integration with other tools, support provided, and data accessibility. “The cost isn’t just the price but the learning curve required and the new habit to use the tool,” she says.
Know how long it will take from cutting a check for the tool to seeing a financial impact (or have a rough estimate, at least). Having this information handy shows that you’re looking ahead.
When pitching a social media management tool to the C-suite, prepare with all the costs, savings, benefits, and answers to potential questions. If you believe in your decision, so will they.
This is a post written me on behalf of one of my many marketing partners. All opinions are 100% mine.