5 ways to persuade the boss your brand should be on social media

These arguments will sway even the most stubborn naysayers.

Do you have a hard time persuading your boss that your company needs to be on the social Web?

I know there are still many naysayers out there who don’t understand why they need a social media presence. Here are five reasons that should convince even the strongest hold-out to get on board:

1. Social media impacts search.

What percent of your business starts with a search on Google?

For many businesses it may be as high as 90 percent. If any of your business comes through search or your website, social media is inextricably linked to your future success.

One of the most important and significant changes search engines have made to deliver meaningful and personal results is to incorporate social media results in the validation process for content. Social validation and authorship are guiding more search results.

To be part of this, you need to create and ignite content. Establishing authority on the Web through your social media content will dramatically help you improve your organization’s search ranking over time. Almost every business can benefit from that.

2. Your customers are on Facebook.

A common question I receive in my classes and workshops is, “What will be the next Facebook?”

A point I try to make is that the emotional switching cost to move away from Facebook is enormously high. It’s where you have all your photos and videos, and where you connect with friends and family members. It’s where you have your Farmville farm, for goodness sake!

It might be easier to change your house than your social network.

Research from The Social Habit, a division of Edison Research, reveals that more than 80 percent Americans between the ages of 13 and 24 are on Facebook, and more than half are active on it every day. There is no other brand in the world that boasts that kind of market penetration. To this demographic—who either is or soon will be your customer—Facebook is the Internet.

Facebook is rapidly spreading across every demographic and region of the world. It is the largest media entity in history.

One interesting and significant trend is that the amount of search on Facebook has been rising dramatically and, of course, Facebook’s new search engine development will further serve this trend.

Increasingly, Facebook will be the way people find and connect with goods, services, companies and brands. It makes sense to stake your claim there, right? Who knows where the future will lead us.

3. A social media presence gives you credibility.

When we don’t know the truth, we look for clues from our external environment—like numbers or badges on a website—to help us make decisions.

In the information-dense Internet, we’re starved for clues to help us determine leadership and authority, and we readily turn to “badges of influence,” like the number of Twitter followers or even a Klout score, as convenient indicators of power.

Perhaps the most prestigious symbol of social proof today is the Facebook like. Among many companies there is a Facebook arms race as competing brands do anything necessary to gain the upper hand with this important metric.

I recently wrote a post describing a company who has an internal marketing metric of cost per like. On the surface it seems ludicrous, but it demonstrates how strategically important this symbol has become.

Don’t overlook social proof of authority as a legitimate reason to have an active social media presence.

4. Social media is the new trade show.

Have you ever had to sit at a booth during a boring industry trade show?

I have, and I hated every minute of it. It was nice to network with people in the industry and chat with customers, but it was certainly not an effective use of my time. Despite spending tens of thousands of dollars on the marketing event, we rarely sold or learned anything, nor did we create any new value beyond handing out nice pens.

Why did we do it?

Because if we weren’t there, people would think something was wrong. We would be ostentatiously absent.

In this day and age, not being on Facebook or Twitter sends the same message. “Ajax Printing isn’t on Facebook? I guess it just doesn’t get it.” Even if you do get it, your absence says you don’t.

Having social sharing buttons on your website is the new trade show. You better be there, even if it’s not the best use of your time.

5. Social media is the future of communication.

The Net Generation—your next pool of employees, customers and competitors—prefers to use text messaging and the social Web over any other form of communication. It is the natural evolution of communication.

You might enjoy reading a paper copy of The Wall Street Journal each morning, or even looking at an online version of your favorite news site, but nearly half of Americans under the age of 21 cite Facebook as their primary news source.

The social Web is where a generation is going to connect, learn and discover. Ignore this at your peril!

If your CEO is still haggling with you because you can’t prove the return on investment of social media, show her this article and say, “It’s not just about ROI. It’s about relevance.”

What do you think?

Mark Schaefer is the author of “Return On Influence” and blogs at grow, where this article originally appeared.

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