SXSWi Notes: My Boss Doesn’t Get It

My Boss Doesn’t Get It: Championing Social Media to the Man


  • Miles SimsVP of Product Mgmt, Small World Labs
  • Peter KimSr Partner, Dachis Corporation
  • Michael WilsonFounder/CEO, Small World Labs
  • Rebecca CaroeSales & Business Dev Expert,
  • Christian CaldwellWeb Interaction and Usability Specialist, Small World Labs/American Heart Association

Peter Kim about to champion it to the man

American Heart Foundation’s experience
Show examples, scenarios and models to convince people.
They spent 6 weeks on a project to convince people. Much of this time was spent establishing baselines.
The most valuable metric for them was reach.

Measurement metrics depend on the department
Marketing dept – equivalency is big. ie, what would the cost have been to achieve the same by traditional means
IT dept – cost/revenue balance

ROI models run off assumptions. You can make a case for anything if you choose your assumptions to suit. Culture is more important


The first question is often ‘how can this help us?’ but it should be ‘how can we help our customers?’
What can the company handle? ie what resources can they dedicate in terms of people/tech/etc?
Is the company’s culture one of control? If so then start with that. Need to accept that customers will be negative sometimes.

What about legals?

Their needs to be a fair amount of trust. Wrapping things up in a legal framework won’t work.
Aim of legal dept is to reduce risk to 0. Businesses work by taking and managing risks.
Go by guidelines – eg the Microsoft blogging guidelines.
Executive buy-in and competitors taking a lead will expedite the legal team getting on board.

Also need to deal with misconceptions.
Give up some control over things like ‘brand message’ but not all.

Social media and culture change

Different approaches to introducing this stuff into large organisations:

  1. SWAT approach – get a small team sneakily doing something and rack up some small wins. This method can backfire though.
  2. Start with a few committed bloggers and roll out wider if necessary.

Share successes and failures and lessons from both. People will appreciate transparency. However, some will also be scared off by failures – first time you cock up may put people off getting involved.

Does pitching change by audience?

Financial dept – give em numbers.
HR – talk about staff retention.

Also, personal motivations matter. Eg, if there’s someone wanting a promotion approach them individually. Get them on board and championing it early so they can claim benefit later on.
It’s all lobbying skills.

Champions come from all depts.
Age is not an issue. There’s nothing innately ‘digital’ about someone who happens to be young.

Get the curmudgeons on board. What do they care about? Give them the tools to help them.

Building on the first campaign

Not a short-term thing – it’s about shifting cultures/lifestyles.
Campaigns may have a start and end to each one but it’s all part of an ongoing relationship.

Measure everything.
Manage expectations. Not everyone is going to get 1million views on YouTube.

Top tips

  1. Be realistic but don’t be a fanatic. Social media may not always hold the answer
  2. Show business value
  3. Be simple first time out
  4. Give results back to a large audience
  5. Define upfront what you’re measuring


What about worry that social media is a waste of office time?
Companies should trust thei people. Everyone should have a goal. If they’re not achieving it then they won’t be around for long.

How can you go about getting other employees involved?
Guest bloggers.
Pull it out of them first time. Let them see the response. Also there may be a fear that they don’t know how to use the tech – teach them

Everything is 6 degrees of separation from profitability.

Other posts about this panel:

Photo by marceatsworld.

Published by Chris Unitt

I work at One Further, doing digital projects with cultural organisations. Follow @ChrisUnitt or find me on LinkedIn.

One reply on “SXSWi Notes: My Boss Doesn’t Get It”

  1. The first question is often ‘how can this help us?’ but it should be ‘how can we help our customers?’

    That is the best explanation I have heard of the benefits of social media in the commercial sector in a while.

    I understand why so many businesses can’t see why they should use social media, and you can draw parallels to the newspaper business as well. But accepting this answer requires a shift of mindset which is why, I think, so many businesses fail at the social media game. They simply don’t understand that this is not about them, it’s about their users.

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