The 2015 budgeting season is underway, and my colleague and Research Associate Mike Carpenter has provided some excellent guidance on how to secure the resources you will need to run your 2015 social marketing programs:

Say the words social media marketing in a budget meeting and C-suiters immediately flip on their ROI blinders. Many marketers assume that executives will just “get” social, but lack of organizational buy-in continues to limit funding for social marketing programs. Thankfully there is a way to secure your budget just in time for 2015: speak in a language executives understand by building a business case for social.

In our report Get Approval To Fund Your Social Marketing Initiative, we detail the full cycle for getting an ample social marketing budget, including the steps to building a solid business case. Here are four data sources listed in the report to help you inform your case and win the funding you need:



1. Previous Campaigns

Arguing with history is tough, so flaunt your successful campaigns to fund new ones! Showing wins from previous social campaigns trumps mere speculation by providing confident directional data. By the same token, avoid highlighting campaigns that did not impact business objectives.  Budget holders will be unlikely to dole out the dough if they can not see social's connection with real business outcomes.

2. Competitive Benchmarks

Analyze competitors to reveal your own brand differentiators, and highlight the strengths reinforced and/or weak points overcome by your social reach, depth, and relationship (RaDaR) programs. These brand points of differentiation bolstered by social will translate to points in social’s favor for company execs.

3. Listening And Analytics Platforms

Ultimately  your customers, not the C-suite,  determine the success or failure of your social marketing campaign so prioritize gathering social intelligence. Track sentiment among your audience to assess their attitudes and behaviors, then reflect those insights in your budget pitch. In her report Follow 10 Steps To Successful Social Intelligence Measurement, Forrester’s Allison Smith recommends that teams, “add social media to your regular collection, analysis, and reporting . . . and include social data into existing insights distribution, such as dashboards or measurement scorecards.”

4. Third-Party Research

A little bit of external research can go a long way in improving your credibility, so seek to validate internal findings with third-party data when possible. Whereas internal research might be dismissed as subjective and self-supporting, executives and stakeholders will find support from an objective, outside voice difficult to ignore. 

For more detailed explanations of these tools, strategies for using them, and additional ideas on getting the budget you need, read our full report, Get Approval To Fund Your Social Marketing Initiative.