With all of the attention social media has garnered in the past five years, it might surprise you to learn that “Social Media Jobs DC is the first online community dedicated to advancing this particular career path for both employers and job seekers. Mayra Ruiz-McPherson, a fluent social media practitioner, founded the company to help social media gain the credibility it deserves as a discipline. Social Media Jobs DC recently entered beta.
“If you search the subject ‘social media jobs,’ you’ll get a lot of hits. I estimate that 90% of search results will be related to how to find a job using Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. The difference for us is that we view social media as a career path,” states Ruiz-McPherson.
Companies struggle with how to integrate this emerging communications discipline into their organizations, from determining what role social media should play to defining the job functions that will support it. According to a recent Grant Thornton survey:
- 48% of senior executives think social media is important an important form of marketing
- 53% expect the use of social media to grow quickly over the next year
- 76% of companies surveyed did not have social media policies
Social Media Jobs DC gives companies and candidates a place to start. In addition to creating original content for the industry, the company curates information in the areas of human resources, general legal issues associated with social media, industry news, and infographics.
Social Media Jobs DC features positions in two categories: 1) jobs that have predominantly social responsibilities, and 2) and all functions within social organizations (think LivingSocial). Staff cull through listings to ensure that they fit the company’s criteria and highlight the social media requirements.
Ruiz-McPherson says she’s noticing some interesting trends that demonstrate how quickly the industry is maturing. “We see a transition taking place. Employers used to look for candidates who could use the social tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Now, they’re starting to look for people who have the portable skills traditionally associated with marketing. Savvy employers want effective communicators who can develop and implement successful business strategies.”
“Executives have begun to talk about the need for social executives to span organizational functions. Today’s leaders recognize that compartmentalizing functions into silos hinders performance and see that social professionals play a key role in bridging the gaps,” says Ruiz-McPherson.
As with other disciplines, employers seek candidates who can demonstrate results. Key metrics include categories as diverse as community influence and engagement, conversions, customer satisfaction, and product development. Because the discipline is still relatively new and rapidly evolving, only a few educational institutions have degreed programs that includes social business as part of their curriculum. West Virginia University offers a certificate that can be earned online.
To Ruiz-McPherson, having a geo-friendly service is just one more element that sets her company apart. “We vet the jobs for relevance and professionalism to ensure they qualify as positions in line with a social media career path. Right now, we’re focused on providing timely resources and helpful tools that will build a strong, vibrant and informed community.”
Typically, I would recap the secrets themselves—including what in the heck comprises a 1/2 secret. But, since Positive Business DC will soon make the presentation publicly available, I’d like to give my take on the three ‘non-secrets’ Hensch shared that business people generally seem to overlook:
“Be curious and mindful when talking to people.”
“My clients are a big part of my success.”
“Even introverts are happier when they spend time with other people.”
Curiosity May Kill the Cat but Helps Businesses Thrive
What do you focus on when pursuing new business? Your capabilities? The close? When was the last time you practiced active listening when meeting with a potential customer? The customer’s need lies at the heart of every deal’s close. Asking questions and demonstrating respect naturally leads to business because you create authentic relationships in the process. Hensch says that business development becomes a lot easier when you take the time to make a real, human connection.
Care as Much (or More) about Results
The purpose underlying a company’s existence is to solve someone’s pain. (Okay, enough people’s pain to launch and grow a profitable business.) All boats rise by caring as much (or more) about customers’ successful outcomes than your own. Of course, you must have the ability to deliver results customers cannot produce themselves.
We’re Wired to Need One Another
Hensch’s observation about the increased happiness level when introverts spend time with other people appears to have tweaked some antennae last night. The truth is, humans are social animals. It doesn’t matter from where one draws his or her primary energy, we are wired to need one another. In fact, research shows that lack of contact stunts brain development. While it’s true that introverts get a bad rap in today’s extroverted business environment, companies need both introverts and extroverts to reach their full potential.
It’s rare to see a Meetup turn into a group discussion, especially when people have gathered for the first time. It was refreshing to see people open up, ask questions, and give each other advice during the event. I’d like to thank the people who attended for their willingness to engage in dialogue and support each other.
Thanks to Doug Hensch for leading off Positive Business DC’s Well-being in The Workplace speaker series. We’ve received a lot of very positive feedback about your presentation.
Thank you also to Andrew Murdock, professional photographer and founder of Natural Artistry Photography, for taking official shots during our first event.
Finally, a big thank you to Teqcorner for sponsoring Positive Business DC’s inaugural Meetup. The facility and refreshments met our needs to a ‘T.’
WhatRunsWhere, a platform that shows where competitors place online and mobile ads, has just announced a feature that tracks ads in the Google Display Network. And now apparently the folks at eMarketer think Google could give Facebook a run for its money as the display ad leader.
The race for cloud-based ad domination got me thinking about how companies will use WhatRunsWhere. Those that use the tool to mimic competitors and compete for the same eyeballs will essentially commoditize themselves. Others, however, may gain some strategic insight if they use WhatRunsWhere to identify and target niche markets.
Companies that flock with the crowd establish a form of me-too status from inception. When a market’s in early stage or high growth, these startups struggle to differentiate themselves as they use similar business models and strategies to pursue the same opportunities. The most successful at execution may survive (or thrive) though the market consolidation phase. Throughout the process customers often have trouble distinguishing between companies that seem to offer very similar things.
Breakthrough companies follow a different path. They solve real-world problems (within the context of why they exist in the first place) for a large enough market segment to launch, grow, and then transition effectively to new markets. The difference: These companies rigorously expend more energy on what’s important to fulfilling the their purpose than they do in studying the competition.
While market leaders understand driving forces very well, they put competition into context. They establish cultures and systems that harness the creativity and passion of the people within to invent new ways of fulfilling corporate purpose. Whether you give employees time to invent new technologies (like 3M and Google), or teach them how to open and run a business (like Zingerman’s), these companies drive what happens in their industries.
As with any other tool, how one applies WhatRunsWhere will determine its true value.
It’s not news that Millennials prefer using social networks over email, even when they want to communicate one-on-one. What may come as a surprise is that today’s most progressive businesses have begun to follow suit. A recent issue of CEO Briefing notes that some companies have begun to adopt social media as a means to improve internal collaboration because it provides context for the work. The network effect associated with social tools also improves:
- Access to collective intelligence
Okay, those benefits seem obvious. People work within communities rather than in isolation. And while email is a powerful tool, it has significant limitations when it comes to communication and coordination within a community. Email falls short as a result of:
- Fragmented conversations, some which exclude important members of the group
- Multiple, overlapping conversations that do not intersect due to functional silos
- Information overload and a requirement to ‘manage’ one’s inbox
- Confusion related to who does what (to: vs cc:)
- “Reply all” by accident (or when there’s a bcc: you don’t know about)
- CYA with bcc:
The CEO Briefing mentions Facebook and Twitter by name. Focusing the discussion on today’s tools limits the way we think about the power collaborative apps and workspaces can unleash. Because social networks are based on the idea of community, they give us an opportunity to think about project management tools in a whole new light. And that’s where the next generation of work-related social networking apps begin.
GraphEffect provides a prime example of what a next gen social network can look like. The company designed a social media workspace for agencies, brands, vendors, and media buyers to work on client campaigns. Take a look at what Fast Company said about GraphEffect last week and you get a glimmer for how much the landscape will evolve as we think of new, social networking apps for business.
Social networks 2.0. I smell disruption… and opportunity.
It sometimes surprises me how much people trust Facebook with their personal information. Consumers gain a false sense of security when they manage their privacy settings. You’ve selected to share with friends, so they’re the only ones who can see your stuff, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Every time you give access to a game or app, you open up your personal information to app developers and advertisers you don’t know. Facebook monitors your behavior, crunches the data, and figures out new ways to monetize how you use the Web.
Facebook has integrated a lot of psychology into its recently updated App Center. Subtle changes in word choice, color choice, font size, and placement help users forget that they’re granting 3rd parties access to personal information that includes:
- User ID
- And more…
While choosing to install apps and play games on Facebook has always made this information available to people you don’t know, these design changes hide what they’re doing. An article in Saturday’s TechCrunch gives the low down on the new look and what it means.
If you realize you haven’t been discreet enough in the past, the TechCrunch article also links you to an app (MyPermissions CLEANER) that helps you identify, manage, or delete the Facebook apps you don’t want. Of course, if trust is an issue, you might not feel comfortable downloading another 3rd party app. In that case, you can just go to your Facebook privacy settings and delete apps from there.
- 45% of Americans rely on TV as their primary source of news and information
- Approximately 30% are influenced by TV commercials when making purchase decisions
- 20% are influenced by radio commercials; 16% by local personalities
The article breaks down responses by gender, but it does not indicate generational influence. Frankly, the generalization about the influence TV has on purchasing power may be overstated. Why do the numbers look inflated?
The survey indicates that 61% of consumers conduct product research on the Internet. So, TV advertising may make consumers aware of products, but they still do research to compare features and check facts. That’s great incentive for keeping your website up-to-date with a compelling value prop and user interface.
Beyond that, the lack of market segmentation by generation makes the results suspect. eMarkter shows us the how Millennials stack up against Boomers. The two demographics clearly demonstrate different levels of trust for media and information sources. Nearly 50% of Millennials turn to anonymous, user-generated content when making purchase decisions. In addition:
- 42% trust their social networks (Twitter, Facebook)
- 25% look at 3rd party sites for validation (Consumer Reports, CNET)
- 24% email friends and family to request recommendations
Whenever the research appears to leave out an important demographic we need to ask questions rather than simply trust the numbers. Accepting the data at face value without doing a sanity check can easily send you down the wrong path.
An article in today’s BizReport reveals that employees spend an average of 1.5 hours a day on social media while at work. “Particularly for those with office-based jobs, it’s not difficult to see why they might get tempted to access their social network profiles when they should be working.”
Rather than rushing out to issue a ban on the use of social media, Smartphones, and computers for personal use, perhaps a better response from management would be to understand why the behavior has become so prevalent.
Dig a little deeper and you may discover that employees used that time in a different personal way before the advent of social media. The problem isn’t Facebook and Twitter. Disengaged employees typically produce just enough to get by without geting noticed. They work out of obligation to bring home the bacon rather than passion. Most people, when given the option to make a difference for a company that does something they care about, demonstrate a wholly different work ethic. Assuming, of course, that you consciously foster those behaviors.
Productivity boils down to leadership. Questions to ask include:
- Have you created a culture that enables people to excel?
- Have you selected the right people for the jobs the company needs to get done?
- Have you communicated goals and expectations clearly?
- Have you provided all of the tools and training needed to get the work done effectively?
- Does the team have chemistry?
- Is the work challenging and fun for the people doing it?
The list goes on, but you get the gist.
Putting a ban on the use of social media without addressing root cause organizational issues will simply transfer employees’ attention to something else that makes them look busy without being more productive. You can legislate or lead, but not both. The choice is yours.
Several years ago I was about to attend a Women in Technology meeting when I got a phone call informing me that a good friend had just lost her battle with leukemia. Shocked, I said a very indelicate word in a public place—a bit too loudly.
Imagine my embarrassment when a former boss came over to tell me the entire hotel lobby had heard my exclamation. Here I was trying to enter a new professional network and the first impression I made was less than stellar. The walls had ears and I wasn’t paying attention.
Fast forward to today. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other social networks have forever changed how we communicate and relate to one another. These networks have CyberWalls that not only listen to everything we share, they rebroadcast our most embarrassing moments. For example, We Know What You’re Doing scrapes Facebook to publish:
- Who wants to get fired
- Who’s hungover
- Who’s taking drugs
- Who’s got a new phone number
Really? Why would people put this kind of ammunition on their social networks? This isn’t the kind of first impression most people want to make. At least 70% of employers and 80% of colleges use social media to assess applicants’ characters as part of the screening process.
For an amusing look at how much the CyberWalls hear—or more accurately, share—please check out I Know What You Did Five Minutes Ago by Tom Scott. Perhaps you’ll want to go in and change your privacy settings before posting pictures from your next party.
A while back I was in a planning meeting of a relatively small company which provides a highly technical and differentiated product for market segments too small to interest the much larger players in the industry. The company enjoys good profitability.
To fuel greater growth, a strategic investment was proposed in a different market currently dominated by the two largest competitors. After listening for a while, I said “We may get some growth there, but we’ll never do so profitably. We are so much higher cost than those competitors, we’ll never be able to compete at their price.”
An executive of the company immediately objected: “What makes you think we’re high cost? Where’s your data?” I replied that I didn’t have data but nonetheless was 95% certain of my hypothesis, because the proposed market was a scale-sensitive one, and we were one-twentieth the size of our would-be new competitors. Nonetheless, the company spent a full year and lots of money trying to disprove my hypothesis – an effort that (not surprisingly) was unsuccessful. Their analysis demonstrated that they were 40% higher cost than their large competitors, and the proposed investment was scrapped.
It’s crucial to understand when you’re competing in a scale-sensitive business and when you’re not. The partners of small management consulting firms often earn more than those of large firms, because there are almost no economies of scale in that business and in fact some diseconomies. On the other hand, scale economies in design, manufacturing and marketing are so powerful in the car industry that no one dares compete without getting very large, very quickly. And while e-commerce used to be an area trumpeted for the possibilities it provided for the little guy, that is no longer the case. Today the web is so noisy and crowded that unless you have large and growing amounts of talent and money to spend on marketing, your chances of becoming anything more than a mom-and-pop are remote. For every Amazon, Google, and Facebook (and notice how big those companies are), there are thousands and thousands of failures.
If your company today is growing and profitable, it’s because you have sufficient scale relative to the economics of your product/markets. Just be sure as you consider investing in new ones that you understand that the scale economy tipping point may be different there than for your current business. Armed with that understanding, your odds of realizing the enhanced growth and profits that you’re looking for get much, much better.
Yesterday morning Salman Sajid showed us just how creative an entrepreneur can be when he spoke at Seed Stage Outlook 2012. Sajid shared his experience with Kickstarter, where he recently received funding for the Touchtype (a case for the iPad and Apple wireless keyboard). His project was oversubscribed.
Sajid sought more than funding from Kickstarter. Instead of launching his own online store, he chose to use the crowdfunding site as a marketing vehicle. He effectively used Kickstarter to:
- Build buzz
- Generate high value leads
- Improve SEO rankings
Sajid says that you’ll gain attention if you’ve got a cool idea. Measurement for cool comes from the other people on Kickstarter. Bloggers troll the site on a regular basis as they look for interesting content ideas. Sajid said that nearly 1/2 of the 21,000 video views have come from videos embedded in blogs. Additional reach came from viral sharing via Facebook and Twitter.
In addition, nearly 1/2 of the traffic resulting in product sales have come through Kickstarter’s site. And, since the Kickstarter pages stay live forever, the service provides a perpetual funnel to Sajid’s website.
Having a Kickstarter project also helps with SEO. The “world’s largest funding platform for creative projects” has a Google page rank of 7. That means having your project on the platform gives your search results a ratings bump. Sajid did his homework, optimized the title, and used other common SEO tactics very effectively. Try Googling “iPad case Apple wireless keyboard” and see what happens. Of course, that’s a rather long search string…
Sajid will tell you that he’s not really marketing yet. And yet, speaking at events like Seed Stage Outlook 2012 is the best form of marketing at this stage. He’s still getting press (this blog offers case and point) while providing a role model for creative thinking performed very elegantly during startup. In the old days we used to call that guerrilla marketing.
Oh, and if you want to see what all the buzz is about, please watch Sajid’s Kickstarter video.