On my previous Search Engine People post, I walked you through the keys to the SEO sales pitch. Now let's take a look at the best way to approach your social media sales pitch. There are four different elements we'll need to cover:

  1. Understanding of social media goals
  2. Analysis of current social media assets
  3. Analysis of competitor's social media assets
  4. Recommendations for new communities to participate in

Understanding of social media goals

As Ben Potter pointed out on my previous post, a good agency will work with the prospective client before the meeting to get an understanding of what their goals are. When it comes to social media, they may not know exactly what appropriate goals are for them to set, but you need to make yourself aware of their level of understanding and what in general they are looking to accomplish. I think you could argue this is even more true for social media than SEO, but regardless of the marketing platform, it should be your primary concern.

Prior to the meeting review what they are trying to do with their site. Based on what they've told you, your research into their space and what you've gathered from your own experience, be prepared to go into the meeting and make recommendations for what their goals should be. Make sure you can back it up with evidence to support why they should focus on them, as well. In Jim Sterne's book, Social Media Metrics, he provides you with 100 ways to measure social media. A few highlights include:

  • Volume of consumer-created buzz for a brand based on number of posts
  • Fans, followers, friends, etc.
  • Shift in sentiment
  • Research and development time saved based on feedback from social media

Analysis of current social media assets

Fairly obvious, right? We need to understand the way they are currently using social media so we can determine if they need to change their direction completely, or if they just need some extra help for executing their strategy. To do this, you'll need to take a look at a few things:

  1. Which sites are they currently participating on?
  2. How heavily are they participating on each social network?
  3. Are they interacting with their fans/followers/etc. or just talking at them?
  4. How are their fans/followers/etc. interacting back?
  5. How much is their target audience participating in those markets to begin with?
  6. How much time is required to participate effectively in those social networks?

What you may find is that your prospective client is just participating in networks they've heard about in mainstream media, regardless if their audience is there or not. Facebook is always one of the better examples. They setup a basic, plain fan page and expect users to just flock to it. It's up to you to determine if their audience is active enough on each of the social networks they are currently focusing on to merit any future investment.

Analysis of competitor's social media assets

You know it is on their mind. The CEO/President of your prospective client has his/her eyes focused on that top competitor's social media strategy. They seem them tweeting and wonder why their own company isn't doing the same. What will really help you succeed with this sales pitch is already having an opinion, good or bad, about what their top competitors are doing socially. Plus, you can learn a lot from them, too. Think of them as additional case studies to help you determine what the right level of engagement is, what types of content succeed with your target audience and which communities they should/shouldn't focus their time on.

Recommendations for new communities to participate in

Your clients probably aren't experts when it comes to social media. In fact, they may not know there is more to it than Twitter, Facebook in YouTube. It's up to you to educate them on the many, many types of social networks out there. What I always do is head over to KnowEm and take a look at all of the communities they'll register your username with. From there you'll start to find new networks that may not get as much traffic as the big three, but are saturated with targeted traffic. You need to step up and point communities like those out to them and make them a priority in your social media strategy. And let's not forget about forums and having a social media monitoring strategy in place. Yes, these activities can take a lot of time, but that's why you're creating a consulting package. You need to come up with the most complete strategy that is going to achieve your client's goals in the same way we identified in the first step.

No sales pitch is easy, and you're not doing yourself, your company or your prospective client any good by going into the meeting with just your knowledge on the social media world. You need to become a mini-expert in their industry's social media world. All communities are not created equal, and it's up to you to crack the code to help your client get in with them.