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Speaking Social: Put Social Marketing in a Context Your Boss Will Understand

Early in my career, I cut my teeth in the newspaper industry. I was a sports writer until I couldn’t afford to be a sports writer anymore, so I moved to the advertising department. I’ve worked in radio, newspaper, and as a marketing consultant, which is to say — I’ve run a lot of direct mail campaigns for brick-and-mortar businesses.

I’ve never worked in TV, but my wife has, and Washington is a community property state…so I’m checking that box, too.

Newspaper. Television. Radio. Direct Mail.

These are what our industry colloquially calls “traditional” marketing channels. As digital marketers, we tend to ignore them. They’re old school. But do you know who else is old school? A lot of CMO’s, CEO’s, and VPs who make budget decisions.

The Social Marketer’s Guide to Social Media ROI

They cut their teeth by marketing and advertising in “traditional” ways, and the language they speak can be different than the language you speak. It’s up to you to find a common language, so that your execs recognize the value that social media (read: you) add to the business.

How to Talk Social to Traditional Marketers

I don’t say “traditional” with the negative connotation that’s generally associated with it. The level of experience that comes with years in the field is something you can’t buy, and it’s incredibly valuable.

The problem is, we live in a culture that’s moving fast and has an unspoken operating agreement that we all just need to “keep up or get left behind.” In many ways, this is true…but that’s also why your “traditional” boss hired you. It’s your job to keep up; it’s their job to recognize when they need to bring on talent to do that.

Answering Your Boss’s Questions about Your Social Campaigns

Marketers and advertisers who came up through traditional channels don’t care about engagement. They don’t see value in a “Like.” What they know are two things: Reach and Revenue.

Reach: How are you getting your message in front of as many people as possible?

Revenue: How are you impacting the bottom line?

If you can put your social media program in this context, and level-up the conversation with the real data you have access to, you’ll get their attention.

Let’s Talk Reach

With almost any traditional media, reach is the sales metric.

Advertise with us. Over 500,000 people buy our newspaper each day.
Advertise with us. Our radio station has the biggest listener base in the region.
Advertise with us. Over 100 million people watch the Super Bowl.

This is how marketers thought. It was the end goal. Before digital, they couldn’t measure much more than that anyway, so it had to be. It was how the newspaper sold ads against our competitors. Sprinkle in some demographic data and you’re set.

Social marketing has the ability to reach a massive audience, and you sit on enough data to demonstrate how and why.

Twitter ReachThe most important part of this is that you can show exactly how many people your message was served up to, and how many people you had the potential of reaching. This wasn’t true for newspaper, radio, or TV.

With each of those channels, you had to do a lot of guesswork. That real data will make an impact on a frustrated CMO who spent a career trying to get their hands on (or avoiding) solid numbers.

Let’s Talk Revenue

Before the internet, if you wanted to know how well your advertising worked, you had to rely on people telling you it worked.

27 people said they saw our ad and came into the store. 
137 people brought the coupon from our newspaper ad in. 
We had a call volume of 14 more people the day of our radio ad.

With social, you can tie actual promotions to actual business value, showing your CMO, CEO, or VP the actual number of clicks and conversions generated by your actions. Show any business leader your impact on the bottom line, and you’ll have their ear.

Social media conversionsDemonstrate to your boss that Facebook drove 190 people to buy something on your website yesterday, and they will want to start speaking social.

Social Can Be Marketing’s Connective Tissue

Marketing on social is different than advertising on the radio, but that doesn’t mean you can’t speak the same language as someone who does. Focus on putting your conversation in the terms that will resonate with your audience. It should come easily, once you put your mind to it. After all, that’s what marketers do. Download the white paper below to learn how to better clarify the role of social media in your own org.

Get everything you need to analyze the metrics that matter

Clarifying the Role of Social Media


Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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