With words like “tweeting,” “blog,” and “unfriending” entering mainstream lexicons, there’s no question that social networks play an important role in our culture today. It’s no surprise that many online businesses use social media to engage and interact with customers online.

However, the benefits of social networking are not always immediately apparent to some people. This is especially true for companies that want to have a lot of control over their brand name and brand image. It can be difficult to convince some people that every business has something to gain from online media marketing. It can be difficult to see how Web 2.0 marketing can deliver a positive return on investment (ROI).

It’s helpful to have a plan when trying to convince your boss or co-workers to invest in social networks.

Here are 7 steps you can take when selling social media marketing to your boss or company.

1. Describe how social media is an excellent research tool. When your business makes effective use of the social media environment, you hear a lot of gossip that you wouldn’t hear otherwise. People who participate in social media marketing campaigns can see references to your company, competitors, industries, customers and prospects in your channel. By setting up QR Media social listening campaigns, companies can know who is involved and what is happening.

Tools and services like Quantcast, Alexa, and TweetMeme make it easier than ever to track and measure what people are saying online. This information is critical for developing future marketing strategies, both online and offline.

2. Align the benefits of Web 2.0 marketing with your business goals. Whether your business or customers are service providers, B2B professionals or B2C retailers, there is a social media marketing strategy for them. However, to convince others of the benefits of online media marketing, you need to know your company’s goals. Do you want to improve customer service? How to save costs? Do they want to manage their reputation? Social networks can do a lot to achieve all of these goals. Knowing what your boss or company wants can help you achieve it.

3. Start small. Even if you’re not optimistic about social network marketing, your boss or others in your company probably know the scope of social applications and services. They may think that starting a social marketing campaign will be a huge, time-consuming task to set everything up.

But that is not necessarily true. Web 2.0 marketing campaigns do not have to include a Facebook fan page, Twitter account, blog, and YouTube channel setup. In fact, it’s often easier to start small. Find the service that best fits your boss or company’s goals. It can be as simple as registering for a Twitter account and engaging people through Tweets. Starting small will save you time and money. But the results may soon become apparent. You can also start measuring these results using a tracking service like Quantcast.

4. Devise a strategy and follow it. Social media campaigns can seem strange and different, even to those with a lot of marketing experience. If you don’t have a clear strategy for implementation and execution, the response to your plan will naturally be skeptical about your social media marketing strategy. Take the time to explain each step of the plan and explain why the plan is being implemented and how it will benefit your business.

5. Find success stories on social media. Many companies, large and small, known and unknown, have already achieved a lot with social media marketing. From Charles Schwab to FujiFilm to Goodwill, there are countless examples of companies successfully using social networking to achieve their business goals. Find them and broadcast the results.

6. Expect questions. It is normal for people to be skeptical of new things and new ideas. You may be familiar with the benefits of social media marketing, but keep in mind that resistance can come from some people being overly cautious. That’s why it’s important to anticipate questions or concerns someone might raise. Find great case studies and other examples of social media marketing success. Keep these handy to use as an example. Here are some frequently asked questions.

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