How to get your boss to care about analytics

Nobody knows what it’s like to be a Social Media Manager better than another Social Media Manager, right? Our very own SMM Sarah A. Parker is here to share her own perspective to help other SMMs with the tricky moments in their roles. Got a question, comment or concern? Find her on Twitter @SparkerWorks or often lurking behind @UnionMetrics.

While in my current position at Union Metrics I obviously have bosses who are just as deeply- if not more- invested in social media analytics as I am, it hasn’t always been that way. I remember how frustrating it was to spend time compiling (manually and by stringing together all the best free analytics options I could find) social insights only to have them get squinted at in a way that revealed the reader – my boss – had no idea what my reports meant and didn’t really care to learn.

To bosses like this,  social media is just something they were vaguely convinced they “should” be doing, but that also should be free. That meant no resources for developing better strategy, experimenting with new channels, and definitely no budget for social analytics.

So how do you convince a boss who doesn’t buy into the importance of social to really care about your social efforts—  enough to invest in comprehensive analytics? I can’t promise magic, but from one Social Media Manager to another, here’s how I would explain things for maximum impact.

Social doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

If there isn’t already open communication between your social team and other teams across sales, customer success and marketing, it’s time to make a plan! Social goals should tie into marketing goals. What are you concentrating on promoting in a given quarter? Does your content marketing plan reflect this? How can you boost marketing efforts through social media? Your social team can also help generate leads for your sales team, in addition to being the first place a lot of customers look for customer service and support.

If your boss is skeptical, here’s where data can be your friend. Describe the times social has given sales a lead, calmed an irate customer, or boosted traffic on a product page. Use numbers when you can, and support your evidence with qualitative anecdotes. Showing clear social results to a marketing-minded boss can be the first step in convincing them that your program has value. This may be harder if you don’t have much budget for analytics yet, but may also help make a case why you need budget for a real analytics product beyond what you can access for free.

You can do more if you can go deeper.

The first step is showing how you can support other teams, so your next job is to convince them how much more you can gain from a deeper, more comprehensive idea of how your social efforts are working or not working; failures often teach us more about where are audience is, how to talk to them, and what we should be doing with our resources.

If you can provide your boss with a clear action plan supported by data showing how your current social efforts could be improved in specific ways, you’re more likely to win them over. Identify specific areas for improvement and be clear how you would attack those (and measure your results).

If you have the data to know who boosts your social efforts on every platform, then you know who you can reach out to as a brand advocate. You can build customer profiles that supplement to marketing personas and be sure no one’s needs are being ignored. Your boss needs to understand that social gives you a direct line to your current and potential customers; that is valuable information that can’t be gotten anywhere else, and definitely not in real time.

Social isn’t magic.

Sometimes a boss will swing from skeptical to convinced that social media marketing is a magical and limitless source of unspecified profit. Those of it who  work in it day-to-day know that’s sadly not true. So try to balance unbridled enthusiasm for the power of social media with the reality that developing an effective social program takes time and patience. You need the freedom to experiment and learn from successes and failures alike. And that’s a lot easier to do when you have the support of your boss and a budget that allows you the best insights possible.

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