Tue, Dec 1, 2009
We have written about uses of social media in B2B where passionate people took risks and leveraged their corporate capital to launch creative and innovative social media plans. But that’s not you. You have tried to convince management of the value of social media to no avail. There aren’t the resources. You just can’t get buy in. No matter how many blog posts you share showing large and small companies succeeding with social media, the bosses just won’t bite.
“Our customers aren’t on social media sites”
“Our competitors aren’t on social media sites”
“Only my kids use Facebook”
“I don’t want my employees on LinkedIn”
And you can’t even convince your boss to let you try a small pilot project. If you work at an agency or are a consultant, this is the point where you just walk away. There are some clients that you just can’t help and you move on.
But if you are a company employee, then you are operating under a different set of circumstances. You know, in your heart of hearts, that social media can help with lead generation, reduce costs and improve customer relations. It’s one thing to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, but this is a situation when everyone has said no. Forgiveness will not be forthcoming. What do you do?
You need to embark upon a stealth social media campaign using personal accounts on behalf of your company.
Did you just read what you thought you read? Yes. Sometimes the only way to prove something to management is to actually prove it. Since you are doing this against corporate mandate, the stakes are higher. If it doesn’t work, and no one finds out what you are doing, it’s no big deal. But if your plans are discovered before you can prove success, don’t point to this blog post. You are on your own.
Warning: Continue to read this post and follow its advice at your own risk. We are not responsible for red-faced, stapler-throwing bosses if you get caught practicing social media on your own time for the benefit of your company.
So if you are still interested in pursuing this course of action, here are some suggestions:
1. Set up a personal Twitter account
Follow others in your industry. Do not include your company name in your profile. Create some searches for industry terms that you can periodically check for relevant tweets. To keep this even more stealthy, only check Twitter on your smartphone, not on your company computer.
2. Create a blog and write about industry topics
Again, do not include your company name in your profile. As you connect with others, or you share posts with industry contacts (at your own risk), people will assume you are acting on behalf of the company. There is no need to tell them otherwise.
3. Leave comments on other blogs
This does not have to be stealthy, unless you link back to your secret blog. You are free to interact with others in the digital world as an employee of your company. It’s not really social media to leave a comment on a blog, right?
4. Answer questions on LinkedIn
Since your LinkedIn profile is current and up-to-date, you are representing your company when you do this. Pass along positive and helpful information to others on LinkedIn. This one is pretty easy to talk your way out of since it won’t appear like a coordinated plan.
5. Pass leads along to Sales
As you interact online, you will encounter prospects that you will want to get into the Sales funnel. This one is harder to disguise because you will be interacting with the Sales department. You can’t really lie and say you found these leads on the sidewalk out in front of the building, but you have to say something. Again, if it is not too many, you can just brush it off as you were doing some online searches and came across people asking questions. But remember, the point of this whole exercise is to demonstrate the value of social media. Too much subterfuge will make it harder to make your case later.
6. Test drive monitoring tools using free trials
Many monitoring tools have free trials so you can find the one that works best for you based on the results. Here’s a list of tools that you can review. These tools will allow you to show some data when you make your case.
Would you be willing to risk the ire of your upper management to prove the value of social media? Have you already done some of these things in a less stealthy manner?