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How do you secure funding to expand social media projects when budgets are tight? And when risk is a key consideration for executives in considering which projects to support, how do you find (and brief appropriately) an executive sponsor to champion your cause at top-level meetings?

I spoke about these issues at a communication conference for public sector employees, and it was clear from audience questions that they’re common concerns! I thought I’d share the key steps here.

1. What do you want?

Being able to articulate what resources you need and why is essential. Do you need more staff to ensure you can engage with customers through social media in a more timely way? Or new technology to make scheduling content more efficient? Would a streamlined clearance process reduce lead times? Get clear on your needs and objectives, and make sure your team understands them too.

2. How do you help others?

Establish how your work supports business objectives and makes life easier, or processes more efficient, for others in your organisation. Which teams do you have a good working relationship with? Is there a priority project being delivered that your work can help with? Identify business areas your can partner with to share costs, risk and rewards. Raise awareness of your social media work within your oganisation by sharing project updates and performance data.

3. Find your data

Supporting evidence is critical when asking for money, resources or changes in process. Define what social media data you have and what other data you’ll need to prove your case. Consider both external and internal sources of data you can use to show return on investment for your work and demonstrate how it supports your organisation’s key objectives.

External data sources: social media insights/analytics, Google analytics and Adwords data, comments from customers and the public, sentiment and sentiment conversion rates, best practice benchmarks, government or private sector case studies.

Internal data sources: traffic to your website, expertise of specialist teams within your organisation, data from call centres/ shopfronts/email feedback channels, forecast data on demand for your products or services, last year’s statistics to provide a benchmark.

4. Calculate ROI to justify your requests

To prove your case for change or more resources, you need to demonstrate the return on investment and efficiencies you’ll deliver as a result. For example, will your project increase sales, improve reputation and customer satisfaction, generate much-needed website traffic or reduce customer emails or phone queries on a certain topic? While the anonymity of social media can make it hard definitively identify whether an online interaction directly results in a sale or reduction in customer emails or phone contacts, it is often possible to show the impact you have on behavior change or outcomes for niche audiences or topics.

5. Do your paperwork

Ensure you meet your organisation’s governance and risk management requirements as you implement your social media project. Here’s some key things to you may need to cover off on before you begin:

  • Do you have a risk management plan?
  • Is there a tender process?
  • Get legal and privacy advice
  • What policies and governance frameworks are needed?
  • Write executive briefs and business cases
  • Get appropriate sign-offs

6. Find an executive to champion your cause

Having a representative for your work present at decision-making meetings is critical. This can be the executive for your work area, or the executive of a customer service or product area that your work supports. Ensure you brief them on your key work delivered to date, what your project aims to achieve, the ROI you will deliver, as well as what support you need from them to do so. If you’ve done your paperwork above, they’ll be convinced you can manage any risks or issues that arise throughout your project.

7. Implement your project

After all your hard work above, you got what you wanted! And your social media project is ticking along nicely. Win! However your work doesn’t stop there…

  • Do what you told your partner business areas you’d do…and more
  • Report regularly to the executive on progress, issues and highlights
  • Prioritise relationships with key stakeholders, don’t be too narrowly focused on day-to-day delivery
  • Keep building trust you can leverage later when you need support or resources for other work
  • Start working on what you need next to expand your project further!

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.


Amanda Dennett is a communication and digital strategist, and wannabe professional tourist. She has expertise in digital content, social media strategy, social customer service, online communities and media issues management. Follow her on Twitter at @mandyintransit.

Amanda is currently undertaking a Master of Research, investigating government use of social media to engage with citizens. Follow the @ausgovsocmed account she curates on Twitter for public sector social media highlights from Australia and beyond.