CEOs On Social Media: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Steve Olenski

As a parent I, of course, have tried to instill a set of rules for my children to adhere to as a means to teach them as they move along the growth ladder. All parents instill their own set of rules and values and so on to help guide the instruct their children, right?

Well let’s say that when my kids were younger, say around 3, I hung up a sign in the kitchen that read: “Don’t Touch A Hot Stove.” I made the sign big, bright and bold so they could not miss it every time they walked into the kitchen. And they followed the rule and never touched the hot stove.

Now let’s say one time they walked into the kitchen and there I was touching the hot stove, burning my fingers, screaming in pain.

“Daddy, you told us to never touch the hot stove. Why did you touch it?”

“Um, well… it’s different for grown ups.”

“Oh, I see… you want me to get mommy so she can take you to the hospital?”

While this may not be the best analogy, the point is very clear that when it comes to social media and the use thereof, far too many CEOs are telling their employees – and the rest of the world for that matter – that they know their company needs to be “doing it” yet simply do not practice what they preach.

What CEOs Are Saying To Their “Kids”

“As a percentage of overall marketing budgets, spending on social media is expected to increase 17.5% over the next five years.” That comes directly from a study conducted last year by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business of nearly 250 top executives.

From an infographic put out by which reveals recent findings on how corporations are using social media. Note, how “corporations” are using social media, not those running them.

  • 94% of corporations are using social media in one way, shape or form
  • 85% credit social media for providing increased exposure to their business
  • 74% indicated an increase in website traffic thanks to as little as 6 hours a week on social media
  • 58% say it’s use for lead generation & developing brand loyalty
  • 65% say social media is key to learning about their competition

As to their preferred social media networks… Infographic: Favorite Social Media Tools

No great surprise there.

Ok, this all looks great, right? CEO’s are investing more in social media and corporations are “getting” social media and realizing that is not a fad, is here to stay and to stay alive in today’s world, one better “get” social media.

What CEOs Are Actually Doing

Just last week I wrote an article on Josh James, his company Domo and the now infamous #domosocial experiment. Josh is the living embodiment of a CEO who “gets” social media so I definitely urge you to read about his groundbreaking experiment.

Josh and his company recently teamed up with to conduct a survey on Fortune 500 CEOs and their use of social media. Josh wrote about the findings of the survey which clearly revealed that a very large number of CEOs are “touching the hot stove” as 70%, yes 70% of all Fortune 500 CEOs have no presence of any kind on social media.

“You kids get to getting on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest and all that good stuff. I’m far too busy to spend my time engaging with the very people who keep us in business.”

The obligatory infographic from the Domo and survey: Infographic: Are Fortune 500 CEOs Social?
It really is mind-blowing and in fact quite hypocritical when you get right down to it when you consider the fact that CEOs openly acknowledge the importance of the use of social media for their companies yet don’t see the need to be socially active themselves.

Yes, I saw the stat that read the number of CEOs using social media is expected to grow to 57% from the current 16% in 3 – 5 years but I will believe that when I see it. And by the looks of things, I won’t be seeing in 3 , 5, 7 or even 10 years. Sorry, not buying it.

I want to leave you with quotes from Josh’s article and also one from David K. Williams who recently penned CEOs and Social Media — How Much is Too Much?

From Josh’s aptly titled article CEOs Afraid Of Going Social Are Doing Shareholders A Massive Disservice:

“It is my hope that CEOs come to believe in the transformative power of social media.  But if they persist in lagging far behind the general population in social media participation and not delivering value to the shareholders that is there for the taking, they may not be CEOs for much longer.”

From David’s article:

“If we haven’t convinced you yet (of the importance of social media), consider these two results from the BRANDFog 2012 CEO Survey as the final clincher: More than 82% of respondents are likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and team engage in social media. And an amazing 77% of respondents are likely or much more willing to buy from a company whose mission and values are defined through their leaderships’ involvement in social media.

The conclusion is clear: Any leader who isn’t engaged in social media today is like the leaders of 50 years ago who insisted on sending a telegram instead of dialing a phone.”

Source: Forbes

Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review, Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email,TwitterLinkedIn or his website.


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Mobile and Social Graphing

Ian Thain

Recently I was entering names of contacts in iOS and noticed that from iOS 5 onwards, Apple have allowed us to add new fields for each individual of ‘Related People. Obviously this makes sense with respects to friends or family, though currently this seems to be nothing other than a mere placeholder.

Strange for an innovative company, so I am wondering if Apple is building a social feature or future applications that will allow developers and itself to exploit the connections that I am entering, for the benefit of the user of the device … We will have to wait and see, but you can bet that whatever it is will be game changing.

For most people when they think of building a relationships and connections into a computer system, they immediately think of Facebook and so they should as it is the epitome of a social network. Though beyond the Consumer in the Business social space, such relationships and social graphing  can easily become an enabler of another level of proactive decisions that innovative applications, mobile or traditional, can make sense of. Analysing data on the road with Mobile Analytics, could use this social graph to build similar analytical reports for connected or like-minded business contacts and make the Information Worker aware of other opportunities.

Such Enterprise Mobile Apps allows the speeding up of business decisions and new horizons, that instantly shows the correctness of deciding to go mobile… Just going to show… It’s not only What You Know… But Who You Know Also…How Social!

Please follow me on Twitter @ithain


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3 Steps To A Customer-Driven Marketing Plan

Michael Brenner

money mouth 300x200 3 Steps To A Customer Driven Marketing PlanIs your marketing strategy driven by what you have to sell or the market needs you best fulfill?

If there’s one theme that weaves through most of my content, it’s that successful marketing requires a relentless focus on the customer. And the biggest marketing mistake you can make is to just focus on what you have to sell.

I often use one of my favorite inspirational quotes on marketing from Peter Drucker: “the aim of marketing is to know the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

But how do you get to know your customers? You cannot speak to all of them. But there are a few simple ways to use research and a customer-first mindset to drive effective marketing strategy . . .

The “Attention Economy”

We are living in a time when the main scarcity is our target audience’s time and attention. No matter who you are selling to, your customers still have product and service needs. And they have information, education and entertainment needs as well.

But according to Nielsen, our customers see more than 2,000 marketing messages every single day. The battle for customer attention has moved from a battle of the message, the medium or the technology to one of customer insights.

Thomas Davenport and J.C. Beck define attention economics as: “As content has grown increasingly abundant and immediately available, attention becomes the limiting factor in the consumption of information. Attention economics applies insights from other areas of economic theory to enable content consumers, producers, and intermediaries to better mediate and manage the flow of information in light of the scarcity of consumer attention.” (Wikipedia)

Step 1: Speak to a Customer

The best way to gain insights into your target customers is to ask them. Or at least ask a sample of them. Pick some of your best customers, your most-recognized ones or simply the ones who are most open to providing you with feedback.

This is also a really cost-efficient and highly-effective way to develop content on a low budget:

  • Ask them about ALL the challenges they faced that led them to seek a solution
  • Ask them how they found you
  • Ask them what content they looked for and where at each stage of the buying journey
  • Ask them why they chose you

You can use these answers to develop testimonial videos, blog posts, webcasts, whitepapers and more marketing content for each stage of the buying journey. And then look to distribute the content in all of the places they told you where they went looking.

Step 2: Formal Research

Having been a sales and marketing professional for both a traditional and a syndicated market research firm, I can promise you that I am not a research purist. But the fact is that formal research is dreadfully under-funded in most organizations.

Like the more informal or qualitative research mentioned above, formal customer insight research should seek to understand the key challenges and issues facing your target customers. It should identify all the challenges they are facing and the relative priorities of each. And it should identify the relative priority of channels where they seek information and the content formats they are looking for at each stage of the buyer journey.

Step 3: Keyword Research

Everyone uses a search engine at some point in the buying process. And understanding the keywords they use is not just a good idea for marketing, it is a fundamental need of the business to understand the keywords your customers are using when they search for information.

Keyword research allows you to get inside the minds of your buyers to know what they are thinking at the exact moment when they have a content need. So my suggestion is for every business to build a search-driven marketing plan. Some Resources to help:

  • Google Insights: allows you to see keyword trends over time.
  • Google keyword tool: helps you see the volume of different keywords and also makes suggestions for other keywords to consider.

What stops your business from moving to a customer-driven marketing plan?

Please comment below and follow the conversation on Twitter,  LinkedInFacebook or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog.


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Putting Mobile First in the Enterprise

Ian Thain

It has now been reported that the Smartphone adoption in China, has now overtaken the Featurephone adoption. This is a major milestone in any geographic region, but in one of the worlds largest growing countries, this is a great step and shows the snowball effect of expecting powerful computing power in your pocket. An effect that will be reproduced in all areas of the globe.

We are now at a stage in our lifestyle, when growing amounts of users are using their mobile devices as their primary source of information, before they reach for a laptop. They also expect to have this information anywhere and at any time, within seconds of the origin of the data, for example when the news breaks. Having enabling technology such as push notifications to Mobile Apps, example APNS (Apples Push Notification Service) makes this easily achievable. In the Enterprise space this notification could be information sourced from CRM, ERP and even HR systems, enabling proactive or instantly active decisions, from the Information Worker or more powerfully from the app itself.

Mobile Companion Apps for the consumer are now expected as part of a brand presence and along with an outstanding experience & interaction. In the Enterprise the expectations are no less, which is now putting mobile first. New developments of existing applications are now more likely to be Mobile Apps and first time computerisation of business processes also converge on Mobile Apps. The mainstream use of Mobile Devices and Mobile Apps in our personal lives are making Prosumers of us all. This is especially the case for the new young employees, the ‘Generation M‘ as they take their space in employment and the new mobile economy. They will expect nothing less for business to be putting Mobile first with innovative apps and instantly accessible data, anywhere at any time.

Good news is that we are already at an inflection point where this is happening, therefore… Mobile power to the people, and more power to our mLifestyle!


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Analyzing the Venture Capital Tax Debate: Fairness, Impact, and Consequences

Scott Maxwell

President Obama’s 2013 budget once again contains a provision for raising taxes on the profits venture capitalists earn on their investments.

Monopolopy Boad Super TaxThe thinking behind the provision goes like this: Venture capitalists make a lot of money, so it’s only fair that they should pay more in taxes. And because they dedicate their time to investing in, working with, and ultimately realizing the value of their portfolio companies, their income should be taxed at the same rates as wages, rather than capital gains.

It’s a simple argument that, on the surface, seems to make sense. The problem is that the logic is incomplete. Until we fully understand the implications of the current venture capital tax proposals, we risk unleashing some unintended and, frankly, undesirable consequences for everyone.

This is not a commentary on the appropriate levels of government spending or overall tax policy. It’s a simple request that, before implementing any tax policy changes, we analyze the potential impacts should such a policy be put in place. Would the results be better for society than the ones our current tax policy generates?

Widespread economic benefits

Venture capitalists invest equity into companies to help them create new technologies, products, and services; employ and train people; and grow the economy. The capital can be used to hire staff and outside professional services firms, lease real estate, or purchase furniture and equipment. These investments are usually quite risky for the venture capital funds that make them, but sometimes yield considerable financial returns and frequently lead to significant advances in innovation and competitiveness.

Compared to the “shovel-ready” capital investments that the government tends to make, venture capital is far more effective at stimulating the economy. Venture capital investments don’t cost the government anything, yet still generate revenue  for it.

Importantly, they help create permanent jobs and stimulate economic growth over the long term, rather than simply creating a short-term spike. For example, according to a 2011 report by the National Venture Capital Association, in 2010, venture capital-backed companies accounted for 11 percent of private sector employment (nearly 12 million people). The report also found that every dollar of venture capital invested between 1970 and 2010 helped to generate $6.27 in revenue in 2010.

Questioning the Logic

Before we change policies, let’s be sure that we thoroughly understand how the current proposals will ripple through the venture capital and entrepreneurial sectors, and what their actual long-term impact will be on tax revenues.

Here are some of the fundamental questions that should be answered before making any changes, as well as some insights I’ve gathered throughout my 12 years as a venture capitalist:

How important is investing in growth companies for the economy and for tax revenue?

I’ve learned a few things about the benefits of private equity investments, and job creation is one of the great examples. Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the money venture capitalists pump into companies is used to hire and train employees, typically for positions that pay significantly more than the average job. These workers generate payroll taxes as well as non-discretionary and discretionary spending (think new homes and cars, or just more meals out). Employers also pay taxes on their companies’ overall income and capital gains. Altogether, we’re talking about a significant source of long-term economic stimulus.

Successful companies also bring innovation and competitiveness to our economy. You don’t have to look any further than Facebook, Google, or Apple for examples of venture capital-backed companies that have helped reshape the face of our economy.

Will lower net compensation for venture capitalists lead to less venture capital activity or reduced quality?

Anyone who has sat through freshman economics knows that financial incentives change behavior. Earning a lower net income could push some venture capitalists to retire, change careers, or worse, never enter the sector in the first place. While most experienced venture capitalists love what they do, myself included, the movement of people in and out of the industry is relatively fluid. Change the tax policy and there almost certainly will be fewer venture capitalists and less venture capital activity.

What effect would less venture capital activity have on the economy?

This is one of the most important questions to be studied because there would likely be significant downstream effects should venture capital activity diminish. Fewer venture capital investments would mean less funding for growth companies. That, in turn, would translate into fewer jobs, less innovation, and a decrease in our overall competitiveness — none of which bodes well for the economy.

Will taxing venture capitalists at a higher rate result in greater tax revenues?

It’s not likely. Venture capitalists currently receive a portion of the capital gains they help create through their venture capital funds. If they are treated as employees who are paid wages from those funds, we would effectively be increasing the capital gains tax on arguably one of the most important investment sectors in the economy.

In addition, less venture capital activity could lead to reduced start-up funding. That would mean fewer high-paying job opportunities and less business investment, which create taxes both directly and indirectly through their multiplier effect on the economy. The tax increase on venture capitalists would surely lead to lower tax revenues from the missed economic growth opportunities. Understanding this relationship is key to crafting the best tax policy.

Finally, if tax policy were to change, venture capitalists may choose to embrace other avenues that are more advantageous from a tax perspective, further eroding tax revenue.

The road ahead?

Taxes Road SignThere’s no doubt that venture capitalists are well compensated and can generally afford to pay higher taxes. But what happens to our economy if we decide to tax venture capitalists more? Do we end up with higher total tax revenues? Will we impede innovation, competitiveness, and job growth in the process? Is there a different tax policy, perhaps a counterintuitive one, that would be better for the economy overall?

Forward-thinking national, state, and local governments recognize the value that venture capitalists bring to their economies. Some of them, such as Israel, Russia, Pennsylvania, and others even offer incentives to attract entrepreneurial activity to their geographies. The tax policies currently under consideration, by contrast, would act as a disincentive. Maybe the policies are optimal, but shouldn’t we at least take the time to analyze their implications before implementing them?

The bottom line is that venture capital activity grows our economy. We should be maximizing that growth, not hampering it through tax policy.

Photos by:  Images_of_Money401(K) 2012 &npsp;

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