You’re convinced there’s a case for using a particular social tool as part of your job. But you look around you and it seems like you’re the only one. Your boss thinks it’s too risky. The department head thinks its a fad. Your contemporaries are all stressed out enough as it is without adopting some new tools. How will you ever build organizational support for this?
The answer lies in being able to look outside your own little work group and find allies in unusual places. The good news is, you’re far from the first person to have to do this. There are well-worn paths for building a coalition of support for social tools within an organization.
Here are the six people who are most likely to help you get a social media effort off the ground:
- The pet project master. It’s easier to advocate using social media as part of an existing project than it is to make the case for launching a whole new initiative. Find a project that’s unsinkable and convince someone on that team to let you help promote their efforts through social channels. If you do a good job with that limited assignment, it will become much easier to make the case for broader social media initiatives.
- The customer service advocate. Someone, somewhere in your organization is obsessed with how customers perceive the organization’s brand. If you’re a retail company, this is probably someone who handles quality assurance or customer complaints. In a B2B firm, you’re looking at an account manager of some kind. In a nonprofit, they might work in fundraising. The job title isn’t important — what matters is that they are consumed with making sure everyone who interacts with the brand comes away smiling. Tell that person you want to adopt a tool that will make it easier to answer questions and address complaints before they get out of hand — now you’ve got the staunchest of allies.
- The old guard. If you work at a very traditional organization, having a sponsor who’s been with the company for years and years will greatly improve your odds of being taken seriously. If you feel uncomfortable asking for their support outright, ask them for advice on how best to win over others. In the course of that conversation, you’ll have the chance to explain to them why you feel the company needs to use social tools — and a chance to get this person emotionally invested in your success.
- The HR chief. Social tools have a lot of potential as recruitment devices. They can also be used to great effect to increase employee collaboration, which tends to increase job satisfaction. If you can get a company using social tools for anything, even if its not in your department, you stand a better chance of being able to make the case for expanding the company’s social media presence down the line.
- Your doppleganger. Chances are there’s another person in another division who’s had a similar interest in putting social tools to work. If you can work together with that other person, you can make the case that social media is part of a broad interdepartmental effort, which can be mighty appealing in traditional organizations that suffer from chronic siloing. Now you’re not selling technology to your executives, you’re selling collaborative innovation.
- The lawyers. It’s easy to think of your legal team as a bunch of worrywarts with an endless supply of “no” on hand. But try to remember that they exist to protect the company. If you come to them first and say, “Here’s what I want to do. Help me stay out of trouble,” there’s a good chance they’ll help you draw up some guidelines that will do just that. Then when you meet with your CEO, you get to tell them, “The lawyers say it’s alright” — which might be the most comforting phrase in the corporate handbook.
How are you advocating for social media adoption within your organization?