NEWS FLASH: If you are not being supported by your boss and you hope to pressure him/her into supporting your nascent social media initiative through a “grassroots” effort, it’s not going to work. Not in the long run. For effective, lasting organizational change to occur, it must be supported from the top. How do you gain that support when your boss doesn’t get it?
Who is the “sponsor” of your social media effort?
Here are six ideas to get the boss on-board:
Conduct a “pilot” program. One of the most effective ways to get something started is to propose a temporary project. For example, go to your boss and tell her you want to try a new idea for 12 weeks (which sounds shorter than 3 months!). Explain that you will do this as an added, incremental effort that will not interfere with your normal job duties, you will measure and re-evaluate at the end of the period, and together you’ll decide whether to continue or not. Once the effort gets going and gains momentum, it’s going to be difficult to stop unless you completely blow it. So don’t blow it. : )
Money really does talk. Whatever you do, don’t go into a meeting with a company executive explaining that you want sponsorship to measure your company’s “quality of conversations.” If you are still buying into the “it’s all about the conversation” hype, read this (measurement and ROI) and this (focus on money). Of course the social web is about relationships, but everything measured in an organization SOMEHOW relates back to money, whether it’s profits, donors or funding. Social media is no different. Be prepared to explain how your initiative ties to the company’s objectives. If you can’t, you’re not ready for this discussion.
Preach fear in the morning and redemption in the afternoon. Scare ‘em. Seriously. Fear is a great motivator: Fear of what the competition is doing, fear of being left behind, fear of missing a trend, fear of making a wrong decision. Then, after your boss is shaking in his boots, explain what you can do to beat the competition, keep your company ahead, and make your boss look great … for absolutely no investment!
Plan for problems. When implementing change in an organization, it’s important to have a counter-measure for every obstacle you’re likely to face. Literally write down every possible argument and reason people will argue against your social media proposal and then formulate a reasonable counter measure to address them. And the hurdles aren’t just money and resources. It could be politics and competing priorities. Get your supporters to help you think-through effective answers to anything your boss can throw at you and be well-prepared.