For many businesses, social media is a new adoption. Updating marketing plans to include social media – and measuring the success of that social media – is something which requires organisational change and new process and procedures, even if you’re in a small company. But often, as digital marketers, we find ourselves at the forefront of this digital change, being the face of change within our company. We might have a great idea for how we can expand our company’s digital reach – but how do we convince our boss? How do we instigate change within our organisation?
I spoke to Mikael Lauharanta, COO and Co-Founder of Smarp – an internal employee communication app – on the best way to create change in an organisation. Mikael is a digital media authority and a keen advocate of employee advocacy, so has a wealth of experience in helping companies adapt and embrace change.
How do I convince people?
If you’ve got a big idea for something you want to do such as implement, it’s important that you do your research. One simple way is to talk to your coworkers about your idea, sound out their concerns so you get an idea for what you need to refine before you formally present it to anyone.
“Gather informal feedback before presenting the idea officially to see what sort of objections people in different positions might have and prepare an answer for them,” Mikael recommends.
After you’ve done some research over Friday drinks, you need to level up and convince stakeholders before management will see it as a priority. Who are your stakeholders? Anyone else the project impacts or influences. Perhaps you want to add reporting from your social media channels into your monthly website reporting that goes to upper management – but you need to get the Analytics team who compile this report on board. “You have to be able to show what’s in it for them. Once you have buy in from one stakeholder leverage that to get others on board.” Mikael advises. Again, these informal conversations will help you get an idea of the opportunities here.
Levelling Up The Conversation
In order to make change, it is much easier to have it driven from the top down – which means talking to management. Instead of working additional evenings to create Facebook Live videos to engage your community – what if your boss hired a team to do it? The power of having management on your side means big things can happen and are better resourced.
“You can only go so far with a grassroots approach because if you don’t have people in leadership positions advocating for and managing the change it is much harder to reach the critical mass to create sustainable change.” Mikael says.
But how do you get management buy in? “If you already have stakeholder buy in, use that to your advantage,” Mikael says. “With management, you should focus on the bigger picture and use data and hard numbers to demonstrate value for the business both in the short and long term.”
For many social media teams, they work exclusively with Facebook or social media data and they don’t work with their website analytics. This can mean there is a big puzzle piece missing in terms of proving effectiveness when presenting a case to the boss.
What if you could show that people from Facebook are more likely to buy your product than people from Search Ads? What if you could show that people from Instagram are more likely to be repeat buyers? Setting up goals and conversion tracking in your analytics software means you can present a case to show the value of social in terms of numbers. So if you want to convince your boss you need more staff or want to try a new project, you have the numbers to back it up – and this might mean getting access to data you might not currently have.
FOMO > FOF
On top of presenting a case with data, Mikael highlights: “Something to keep in mind is that buy in is not enough, you also need to instil enough fear of missing out to prioritize the change over the million other things the management is dealing with. Paint the picture of what happens if they don’t change and make sure the fear of missing out is greater than the fear of failure (FOMO > FOF).”
What does this mean for those in social media? It means showing that your bosses are missing out – and numbers can help paint this picture. Perhaps you’re showing a chart that your current traffic from Facebook results in 1000 in converted customers on your site, which is $100,000 in revenue per month.
If you increase that by 1% by making this proposed change, you will get $101,000 per month.
You can now lay this data out – if you make this change, the business grows in profits annually by $12,000. If not, it doesn’t get that additional revenue. If the change causes no greater outlay or staffing costs – it’s a pretty convincing argument.
And that is just 1%. What if this chart showed 2% or 3% change?
So why is data so essential when presenting to the boss? “It’s a lot harder to argue with data than opinions.” says Mikael. “Decisions are made based on perceived value and there’s no easier way to show value than using numbers. Again there are cultural differences but data-driven decision making is becoming the norm if it’s not one already.”
If you don’t have internal data to work with, you might want to use industry benchmarks, like how many people in a specific demographic use Facebook in your country, for example. This article has great tips for how to present a case for the use of social media to your boss.
Being the face of change
It can be tough being the person presenting new ideas to a company. “People are often afraid of change, so you will probably be met with resistance. The bigger the change the bigger the resistance,” says Mikael. “There are cultural differences but it is a lot easier to shoot an idea down than take the leap of faith, support the vision, and make it happen.”
And while it takes courage to present an idea to your colleagues, bosses and leadership team, it can sometimes be useful to do this internally, rather than as an external consultant. Why? Because your colleagues know and trust you – and they understand that you know the company. “An internal change agent has the trust of his/her peers, a readymade network within the company, a lot more internal knowledge and some built-in authority” says Mikael, “but could lack the authority needed to trigger change.”
“An external change agent has more authority especially if they are a recognised influencer or a thought leader on the topic but may lack the required internal knowledge and networks to drive the change. In an optimal situation you combine an external change agent with an internal advocate to create organizational change.”
The final takeaway
“Don’t underestimate the importance of internal communication, repetition, and across the board buy in within the organization and stakeholders when creating change.” Mikael advises. “Last but not least, don’t forget that to create change you need to create the need for change first and make sure you can answer the why before answering the how.”
Ready to propose a change to your bosses? You’re now armed with a plan of attack for how to nail it!
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About Rachel Beaney
Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today to jump on a free consultation call to find out how Rachel can help you.