Every brand marketing team develops a target audience and it is necessary that a social representative be included in those conversations. If you have the complex task of working with a brand which is unfamiliar with, turned off by or even scared of social media as a marketing tool, you must be the one person in the room, advocating for the unadulterated power of social media. If you find yourself in a situation similar to this, you have quite a bit of work ahead of you.
I had the esteemed privilege of being in this sort of situation for nine months; as a subject-matter expert in the field of social integration, I was working tirelessly to incorporate complete social strategies with considerable budgets into very traditional marketing plans. These marketing plans were originally limited to what I consider the big three: broadcast, print and out-of-home (advertising media that does not fall into the most common forms). Unfortunately for me, social media had no place in any of these categories.
Long story short: after months of running into the same wall of social media bewilderment, I developed a plan to get social media a seat at the table…every time:
- Verify Your Worth: This is something that should come easy; you’ve known about self-worth since you were old enough to understand acceptance. I’m not asking you to present yourself as the be-all and end-all for the perfect marketing campaign; you need to have enough confidence in yourself and your abilities to put others at ease. You know what you’re doing; give every presentation like it’s your last.
- Get Invited: After a handful of inspiring, intriguing or downright exceptional presentations, opportunities will start presenting themselves. You will be seen as an “expert” (I hate that word but it fits here). Individuals twenty years your senior might ask your opinion on a new tagline; a VP of Marketing may request your presence at every meeting moving forward. Do not force yourself into meetings or conversations without an invite; once you prove yourself, it will happen naturally.
- Listen First: Once you finally have a seat at the table, do not start tossing every single idea you have at the team. You’re the new kid; sit down, shut up and just listen to the group for the first week or two. They have days, if not months, more planning under their belts and whichever project you’ve just been asked to support is the newborn baby of the brand. You’ll learn more by listening and can better present your ideas when the time comes.
- Support the Bigger Picture: You should now realize what sorts of barriers you’re up against, specifically if you’re supporting a brand that is only just opening up to social media. When presenting your plans, make sure to fully integrate with the other agencies or teams. The paid media, CRM and experiential marketing teams all have long-standing histories with the brand and are trusted assets. I’ve learned from my experiences that when dealing with a socially inexperienced team, you may present all social plans as “supporting” ideas. This will ensure efficient approval and seamless integration of your plan, specifically when you have advocates supporting it from within the established team. Social will become an integral part of a great and complete marketing team; your seat at the table will be permanent.
If you’ve ever experienced a similar situation, I’d love to hear how you were able to fight your way to the table in a comment.