Why your boss doesn’t care about social media

Engag:EdWhich is better, to be doubted or to be ignored? 

Social and digital media is without doubt a powerful tool for marketing, as discovered by small brands like Giapo and huge brands like Burberry.

But in most mid-sized organisations, the strategic value of social and digital media is being overlooked. 

That was reinforced to me in a workshop this week, where I asked marketers what measurements their management was asking from them. “None,” was the short answer. 

No measurement, and no attention on social at all from the top of the organisation.

The days of outright rejection of digital and social are over, in most cases. But now social media is tolerated, rather than embraced, in most organisations. 

In the early days, no attention from the top was good; it enabled intrapreneurial marketers to get in and try some cool things without getting shut down. 

But now, social media in the organisation runs a risk of being muted. Being present but ineffective, because it’s caught in the vicious circle of no investment -> no results, therefore -> no investment. 

My friend and colleague Albert Qian has observed similar things in the USA

What’s the solution? My two cents: 

  • Statistics + stories. Statistics are necessary to make any business case, but they’re nothing without a story, no matter what anyone tells you. Stories are the most efficient containers of data. They include facts + meaning. Find stories that demonstrate the value of your online efforts. Hat tip to Steve Denning for helping me learn this years ago
  • Persistence. Entertainment business legend Murray Thom once told of a sales pitch that he finally won after 8 years of persistence. It’s easy to fall down people’s priority list, especially when you’re doing something unfamiliar. Keep trying. And if you worry about annoying the people you’re after, in Murray’s words, “just be more wonderful”. Be persistent but make them feel good each time you see them. Making someone feel wonderful is another way of being relevant to them. 
  • Connect. Network with others in your own organisation who are passionate about using these new tools. Learn from each other, and come up with a big picture of how you can demonstrate value for the whole organisation. 

What about your organisation? Is social media getting the love it deserves? 


3 thoughts on “Why your boss doesn’t care about social media

  • Mark Lincoln

    Very nicely put, Simon. Relevant to so many businesses in New Zealand, I reckon. Working for managers who don’t understand your role but *do* see the need for it certainly has its pro’s and con’s.

    On the plus side, (hopefully) your input will be asked for more often in terms of digital campaigns and activity and – if management are truly sold on the idea – you’ll be asked how other processes and activity can adopt more digital methods, and you may be left to carry on working on the projects that you see are important with little intervention.

    On the negative side, it can be difficult for managers to understand why certain projects take so long, particularly when ‘back in the day’ they used to just have the receptionist do the role and it only took her a few minutes. It can also be difficult for them to accept the importance (and like you said, the investment required) of your role. After all – you’re not making sales and generating revenue, are you? (Ha!)

    I attended a workshop in the US earlier this year for car dealerships. The audience was asked whether their dealership had an ‘internet department’. Some enthusiastic, forward-thinking, dealership managers raised their hands with a proud smile, only to then be put down by the presenter. Even having an internet department is now old-hat in the US. The new ‘best practice’ is to have a digital dealership, where every staff member is involved in digital, rather than one or two digital specialists.

    • Simon

      Thanks Mark! That last paragraph is really interesting. It reminds me of Ghandi’s quote about the evolution of a new idea:

      “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

      While that’s quite a confrontational quote, it so truly describes the innovation process. Sounds like you’re in the winning phase, Mark!

      • Mark Lincoln

        Love it! The winning phase? I’ll take that!


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