Thoughts from SMPR: Part 2—Stepping Away from the Rainbow

Landscape view of a rainbow over green hills against stormy skyFollowing up on my post from last week about SMPR, I promised to go into a bit more detail about my second main point during that panel: It’s time we all step away from the social media rainbow just a tad and realize that many CEOs/C-levels don’t fully grasp the impact of social media. Therefore, we need to do a better job of helping them see a corrallary between getting a great placement in The New York Times and how many times that piece was retweeted, commented on or whatever the case may be.

The fact is, folks, many people will never get this, and we need to learn to be OK with that. In fact, we need to be better than OK with that; we need to help them understand why having blogger X tweet about our company is just as important in many cases as a write-up in Shoes Today. We need to put these great social media accomplishments that I know many of you are working hard to achieve each day into the context of what our executives know and understand.

The secret here is that by doing so, we actually help them understand the true impact of social media far more than if we just try to jam it down their throat. Because when has trying to stuff an idea into someone’s head that was not THEIRS ever worked with anyone? Probably not very often.

This isn’t an indictment on CEOs/C-levels or any other executives. Far from it. If anything, it’s a call for PR and social media pros (and certainly myself included) to be a bit more realistic about where social media currently stands within the broad scope of a company’s and an executive’s line of vision. Yes, great things are happening within social media right now, and will surely continue to do so. And yes, there are definitely some CEOs out there whom you could say, “Hey, this guy/gal from Mashable just tweeted about us, and that became a trending topic on Twitter!” and they would totally get how great of an impact that is.

But the fact remains that for the time being, many high-level executives either don’t get the impact of all of this, or simply haven’t seen a point to it yet. And we need to be OK with that . . . for the time being (caution there for anyone who wants to jump all over me for saying this). Rather than constantly talking buzz about the great marketing impact that Foursquare offers, or the ability to “engage” with all of our company’s fans on Twitter, let’s get back to the basics: Explain things to people in terms they understand.

That means, if your CEO likes to hear about placements in terms of total unique visitors to a site, or total circulation, fine, give him or her that info. But also give them a quick bit of info about the number of times that story was retweeted from the site, and how that can have a corollary impact on your company’s business. It’s about blending old-school with new-school so your point truly comes across.

[reus id=”6″][recent posts]

Share on Tumblr

  • I agree Keith…but I must say it doesn't make the situation any less frustrating!

  • I find it helps to explain things in metaphors and similes. Comparing metrics is one way to do that (“It's like the Time Magazine of the internet, guys!”) but there are some things you just can't compare metrics-wise, like a trending topic. My head manager has been very receptive and excited when I explain those things like, “You know how the NYT has a list of the most e-mailed stories for the day? It's like that, but on Twitter.”

  • keithtrivitt

    TJ – I love that concept of explaining it in terms of a big, major MSM site that practically everyone understands now. And comparing it to The Times' most e-mailed stories of the day feature is perfect for something like getting your client into say, a Mashable article that became a trending topic on Twitter. Similar feature for two different forms of media. Great idea!

  • jeffespo

    Keith, as always this is an interesting concept. While it is hard to get executives to see the silver lining in social media as many are skeptical to begin with.

    One thing that we've worked on is pulling together a reputation based Netpromoter Score that shows what influencers mover the needle. For example if TechCrunch said we suck, it is much worse than say a person who it is their first tweet.

    We've also used Tweetstats to pull together outbound tweets from the company and our top competitors to show a share of conversation which has piqued interest as well.

  • keithtrivitt

    Jeff – Thanks for the great advice on making social media results relevant to mainstream audiences and C-levels. I've never used a reputation-based Neptrometer Score before … I'll have to check that out!

  • jeffespo

    Let me know if you want to chat on it.