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How to Convince Executives to Pay for Community Management

Today's post was written by Nathan McGee, who has served as a community manager for the brands Zynga and Lucasfilm Ltd. He's a director of social media at Provo Craft, and a contributor to the Grande Guide to Community Management.

Maintaining a happy community takes time, effort and investment. Most often the biggest challenge as a community manager is not the community itself, but convincing the executive team that there is value in fostering and promoting engagement.

In order to win over an executive, you’ve got to think like an executive.

The logic is simple: a happy community means a prosperous community. But you might need to translate for the executive crowd. In order to help your executive come to an understanding, and in turn loosen the purse strings a bit, you’re going to need to speak the same language.

Is it Measurable?
Execs love charts and graphs. When prepping your pitch think what are you going to put on your chart and how will you capture the data?

It could be as simple as tracking the increase in “Likes” and retweets to complex sentiment analysis and producing surveys. You’ll have to tap into your exec’s psyche and think “what information does my exec team want to see?” You might need to do some research into the best tools to provide that data.

What is the Projected Outcome?
Execs want to know what is expected and like to hear it backed up by data. They want to hear that an investment here leads to a greater return there. Demonstrate you have a clear goal in mind.

You might not have a projected outcome because it's the first time you've tried it. If this is the case, let the execs know that you are setting out on a pilot program, using the first few months to gather data, set a baseline and gain a better understanding of the potential impact for the brand.


What is the ROI?
There’s a catch to the statement above. If you’re asking for a small amount of money, setting a baseline may be enough to gain approval. If you’re asking for a large sum, you need to have a clear, projected outcome.

Executives want to know their money is well spent. It's best to break it down into a per point cost. If you're asking for $10,000 to spend on a program that potentially will increase your Facebook “likes” by 10,000 then you are spending about $1 on each like. For this argument to work, you will first need to know the value of a “like.”

How Does this Impact Revenue?
While you may care about the people, executives need to count the revenue.


You don’t have to limit your discussion to the amount of revenue coming in through community management. Ask yourself the following questions: Does it cut costs in any way? Does it save resources or employees’ hours of work? Will it make the path to purchase easier?

If you can make things better, faster or cheaper, calculate what that means in dollars. Then brandish that number when revenue comes up.

There are likely a number of organizational goals that your community management projects align with. Does the company want to improve its reputation? Is it in the mission statement that the company provides excellent service? Look to these goals as additional ammunition to help really sell the need to invest in the community.

Does it Tie In with Key Company Goals?
Now this won’t guarantee that you’ll be handed a blank check and told, “make it all happen,” but by demonstrating the value and speaking to the executive team in a language they understand, it will help them be on board with investing into the community.

Want more? Download the Grande Guide to Community Management. It's free!

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