Inside The Growing Social Media Skills Gap – FastCompany

Fast Company LogoBY RYAN HOLMES

On February 4, 2004, a handful of Harvard students logged onto a newly launched website called thefacebook.com. Just a dozen years later, some 2 billion people—nearly a third of the planet’s population—are social media users.

So if companies are having trouble keeping up with that pace of adoption, it’s no surprise. Businesses have overcome their earlier skepticism and raced head-on into the social arena, chasing the estimated three-quarters of consumers who now say social media influences their buying decisions. Nearly 90% of U.S. companies are currently using Twitter, Facebook, and other networks—all jockeying for their share of the estimated $1.3 trillion in value that social media stands to unlock.

There’s just one small problem: The contemporary workforce is woefully ill-equipped to help companies unlock it.

THE SKILLS GAP YOU HAVEN’T HEARD OF

While social media races ahead, formal training and education programs are lagging seriously behind. If that isn’t making headlines, it’s testament to social media’s comprehensive mainstreaming: “Facebook? I use that everyday. Who needs to be trained in it?”

Yet a meager 12% of the 2,100 companies in a 2010 Harvard Business Review survey said they’re using social media effectively. And more recent research by Capgemini and others show that confidence gaining only incrementally.

IN A SHORT TIME . . . SOCIAL MEDIA DUTIES HAVE BEEN RADICALLY DEMOCRATIZED AND DECENTRALIZED [WITHIN COMPANIES].

Reports of social media gaffes and blunders in the workplace are still routine. Meanwhile, the real price of the skills gap often goes unnoticed—billions of dollars in missed opportunities and lost revenue.WHAT’S BEHIND THE SHORTFALL

The clearest culprit is the breakneck proliferation of new platforms and features. Around a year ago, Snapchat was still a toy for teens to trade disappearing messaging; today it’s the latest way to reach young customers on their own turf. As more platforms incorporate more sophisticated features, even the most plugged-in users are struggling to keep up.

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At the same time, how social media is used in the workplace is fundamentally changing. Just a few years ago, social media in the office was the domain of specialized social media managers, the gatekeepers who owned a company’s public face on the leading platforms. In a short time, however, social media duties have been radically democratized and decentralized. The number of job descriptions on Indeed.com mentioning social media skills is booming: “[We’re] seeing this demand span many levels, from executive assistants to senior vice presidents,” Amy Crow, Indeed’s then communication director told Quartz a few years ago.

Since then, employees have been asked to use social media in ever more numerous and unfamiliar ways. The standard marketing functions are just the tip of the iceberg. Social tools are being used to streamline customer service, drive sales, improve HR processes, and build employee brand advocacy programs.

Meanwhile, platforms like Facebook at Work (in beta now and expected to roll out this year) and Slack (which boasts millions of users, from NASA to your corner coffee shop) are quickly changing how workers collaborate. By bringing social messaging inside the office, these technologies are breaking down silos and boosting productivity (although some disagree). Social media is no longer a discrete thing that certain people do in certain jobs, and more of an integral component of work itself.

BECAUSE SOMEBODY GROWS UP BEING A SOCIAL MEDIA NATIVE, IT DOESN’T MAKE THEM AN EXPERT IN USING SOCIAL MEDIA AT WORK.

But this approach only works if employees are on board and up to speed. “The real problem is that we expect people to know these skills without providing any training,” William Ward, professor of social media at Syracuse University, recently told me. Social media know-how isn’t something you just pick up as a casual user. And it isn’t just older employees who are in the dark—millennial hires need training, too.”

Because somebody grows up being a social media native, it doesn’t make them an expert in using social media at work,” Ward says. “That’s like saying, ‘I grew up with a fax machine, so that makes me an expert in business.’”

BRIDGING THE SOCIAL GAP

Fixing this social skills gap is no small task. In the long term, social media coursework is slowly being incorporated into university programs, and not just for students pursuing marketing and communications degrees. Here at Hootsuite, for instance, we’ve developed a social media syllabus that’s now being used in more than 400 universities around the world by 30,000 students. Programs like these offer a foundation of social media skills for the workplace and may one day be as commonplace as introductory college writing and computer skills classes.

But what about employees struggling right now with the growing demands of social business? The good news is that companies are beginning to acknowledge social media literacy as a critical job skill (just like Internet and basic computer literacy back in the day) and are starting to offer on-the-job training programs. Altimeter reports that almost half of the companies it surveyed are planning on rolling out some kind of internal social education program for employees, while overall spending on corporate training is on a serious upswing, rising 15% in the U.S. in a recent year to $70 billion.

The challenge, of course, is how to teach social media in such a mercurial environment. In the last year alone, for instance, we’ve seen the meteoric rise of “social video” and a whole new crop of one-to-one messaging apps, while Twitter has struggled to reinvent itself.

But few employees have time for in-depth courses or bootcamps. Ultimately, the right training solution needs to be on-demand and mobile-friendly. Currently, some of the bestpaid options are coming not from traditional educational sources, but from companies immersed in the social and digital media space, offering real lessons from the front lines. (Hootsuite’s own online course, Podium, is one free alternative, with 50,000 users and counting.)

TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, AND OTHER NETWORKS AREN’T GOING AWAY . . . [AND] SOCIAL MEDIA BUDGETS AT COMPANIES ARE EXPECTED TO DOUBLE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.

Ultimately, though, any investment in upgrading social media skills in the workplace is likely to be money well spent. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other networks aren’t going away. Social business has become business as usual. Indeed, social media budgets at companies are expected to double in the next five years.

To avoid throwing good money after bad, companies need to ensure that their employees actually know how to use new and emerging social technologies. Those that succeed in closing the social media skills gap will discover new ways to reach and retain customers, engage and recruit employees, and boost productivity. Those that fail will miss out on their chunk of a multitrillion-dollar pie, and might not be around long enough to regret it.

The Skills The World Will Need In The Future (+infographics) – Innovation for Development

By Enrique Rubio

engine-289x300The Fourth Industrial Revolution was the topic for the 2016 World Economic Forum. Developments in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and others, are driving fast-paced change that will radically affect the way we work and live.

There are many unknowns about the future, but what we do know for sure is that reality as we know it today will be very different. Jobs will disappear (the WEF has calculated that about 5 million jobs will be lost), new jobs will be created and some skills will become obsolete, whereas others will be highly demanded.

The report from the World Economic Forum lists the ten critical skills that will be needed in the workforce in 2020: 1) Complex problem saving; 2) Critical thinking; 3) Creativity; 4) People management; 5) Coordinating with others; 6) Emotional intelligence; 7) Judgment and decision-making; 8) Service orientation; 9) Negotiation; and 10) Cognitive flexibility.

Between today and 2020, we have a little bit more than 1400 days. Most of us are trying to live a fulfilling life, exploring and discovering our potential, and thriving in an environment in which we opportunities to maximize that potential. But 1400 days is not much time, and we need to plan and act upon our professional and career future starting right now. I can’t stress enough the urgency of my words.

In the future, either in 2020, 2030 or 2050, but definitely not too far from now, working class will be further divided into low-paying low-skilled jobs, and high-paying high-skilled jobs. An engineer of today, if he or she doesn’t increase the skills needed in the future, could potentially be placed in the low-skilled job band. On the other hand, a clerk of today, who is deciding to begin right now the learning process to strengthen the skills and capacities that match his or her potential, with the needs in the future, could potentially be placed in the high-skilled job band. The difference in both is not academic training or diplomas, but long term professional planning.

Below is how I see the extremes in the top five of these 10 skills needed for the future. Where are you standing? What do you need to do in order to navigate the path between a low extreme and a high one? What urgency will you consider in order to learn and move from one place to the other?

Source: The Skills The World Will Need In The Future (+infographics) – Innovation for Development

By Enrique Rubio

I’m an HR Professional with background in Electronic Engineer and a Fulbright scholar with an Executive Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University. I’m passionate about development, innovation, leadership and neuroscience. I’m also a competitive ultrarunner.

NEVER FORGET SOMEONE’S NAME AGAIN WITH THIS MEMORY TRICK

Fast Company LogoEVER MEET SOMEONE AT A SOCIAL EVENT AND IMMEDIATELY FORGET THEIR NAME? TRY THIS TECHNIQUE FOR UNDERSTANDING AND USING MEMORY’S NATURE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.

Sometimes one of the important aspects to career success can be something intangible like how likeable you are.

That vague feeling of goodwill is often determined by how genuine you seem when interacting with others. One of the first steps to showing someone you sincerely care about what they’re saying is remembering what they say—especially their name.

According to a Dale Carnegie training course I took last year, the sweetest sound to anyone’s ear—no matter what language it’s in—is their name. Without nailing down this first step, it can be difficult to move forward in building a genuine professional or personal relationship. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult task since someone else’s name often doesn’t mean anything to us (it’s just another word) so it’s difficult for our brains to remember it.

THE SOLUTION TO OUR FORGETFULNESS?

According to the course, our memory works best when we remember scenes and images. Our minds are “associate machines” so in order for you to remember something—like a name—you need to form your own association to it.

This is called the memory-linking technique.

It works like this: When you meet someone, pay close attention to what they’re saying so that you can use the details to associate them to your images. Associating a name with a personality trait, an occupation, a visual cue, or where someone’s from is an effective tactic.

Read more…

How More Accessible Information Is Forcing B2B Sales to Adapt

jan16-05-563960997by: Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer

Over the past 20 years, information technology and digital channels have changed the way consumers shop for products ranging from cars to homes to electronics. Those forces are dramatically changing the way B2B companies and their customers approach buying and selling, too.

Business buyers are more connected and informed than ever before. Sellers must respond. For buyers and sellers alike, this creates complexity, anxiety, and opportunity all at the same time.

From the buyer’s perspective, information technology and digital channels provide access to information and enable self-sufficiency. When a buyer wants to learn about virtually any product or service, an internet search yields thousands (if not millions) of results, including online articles, videos, white papers, blogs, and social media posts. In addition to supplier websites that showcase specific solutions, there are likely to be online sources (ranging from the self-serving to the unbiased) to help buyers learn and compare solution alternatives. Buyers can also use self-service digital channels for new or repeat purchases and for training and support. Using information technology and digital channels, buyers can take over many steps of buying that salespeople once cherished as their source of value.

Buyers are at different levels of self-sufficiency: any single buyer can be at one level for some purchases and at a different level for others. Sometimes buyers prefer to eliminate the salesperson completely. According to one corporate technology buyer: “Our supplier’s customized self-service purchasing portal makes it easy to place reorders, track shipping, and return products hassle-free.” Other times buyers seek help from salespeople. The same corporate buyer relies on salespeople when evaluating new technologies: “It’s more efficient to work with a few trusted salespeople, compared to spending hours on my own sifting through all the information and misinformation that’s out there.”

Because of the diversity of buyer self-sufficiency, the traditional methods sellers use to customize their selling approach for customers are no longer enough. Considering factors such as customer potential and needs is still relevant. But today, customer knowledge/self-sufficiency is a growing driver of how customers want to buy. At one end of the spectrum are the “super-expert” customers, skilled in gathering information from many sources and self-sufficient in using that information to make purchase decisions. At the other end of the spectrum are the “information-seeking” customers, who want help with examining and evaluating the plethora of information. Many customers are in between these two extremes, or are at different points at different times or for different purchases.

Smart sellers match their selling approach to the customer’s level of buying knowledge and self-sufficiency. For example, when leaders at Dow Corning observed in the early 2000s that some customers wanted an easier, more affordable way to buy standard silicone products, they created Xiameter, a brand that includes thousands of less-differentiated products sold exclusively through a low-cost, no-frills, self-service online sales channel. Customers who desired a higher-touch approach could still purchase products under the Dow Corning brand name, which also includes specialty silicones backed by research and technical services.

As sellers need a more customized approach to reaching customers, they have a big arsenal of data and technology at their disposal. Systems (e.g., CRM), tools (e.g., data management, analytics), infrastructures (e.g., mobile, cloud), and information (e.g., big data) give sellers knowledge about buyers and enable sales force members to make smarter decisions. And sellers who once connected with customers primarily through personal selling can now use an array of digital communication channels to supplement or supplant face-to-face sales efforts.

Consider the impact of information technology and digital channels from the seller’s perspective. Here are examples from several industries.

  • Finding banking customers: “Social media allows us to cost-effectively reach out to more prospects and showcase our services.
  • Understanding specialty chemicals customers: “Big data and analytics help us improve customer targeting and achieve more cost-effective deployment.”
  • Acquiring advertising customers: “We now have richer demographic information to help us create more powerful sales messages, resulting in more sales.”
  • Serving and growing business logistics customers: “Our salespeople use a business review app to guide quarterly account reviews with major customers. By sharing data about performance and cost savings, these discussions enhance customer value and retention.

Information technology and digital channels can help sellers become more effective and efficient, but they can also be a source of disharmony and confusion if implemented without thought. Too many sellers have wasted millions of dollars on sales technologies such as CRM systems and data warehouses that never lived up to their potential.

Success for sellers requires many sales force changes beyond information technology and digital solutions. To start, salespeople need new competencies. Customers are no longer interested in meeting with “talking brochures,” so salespeople must do more than share product information. They must adapt to each customer’s level of knowledge and self-sufficiency. They must use email, social media, webinars, video conferencing, and other tools judiciously to maximize their own productivity and make things more efficient for buyers. They must help their companies coordinate customer outreach across multiple communication channels to ensure buyers get a well-orchestrated and consistent message.

For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, gone are the days when the majority of physician education occurred through face-to-face contact between salespeople and physicians. Companies are now tracking individual physician communication preferences and are reaching out with the combination of face-to-face visits and/or digital methods (e.g., websites, email, podcasts, virtual detailing, video conferencing, mobile apps) that best meets each physician’s needs. Salespeople need competencies as orchestrators who can ensure an effective and efficient connection.

Developing new sales force competencies is just a start. Sales leaders must also reengineer their sales forces by implementing changes across the entire range of sales force decisions: roles, size and structure, hiring, training, coaching, incentive compensation, performance management, and sales support systems.

Source: HBR: How More Accessible Information Is Forcing B2B Sales to Adapt

 

The Importance Of Asking Questions | Ogilvydo.com

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever” – Chinese proverb.

What’s the one thing that the world’s leading innovators share with children? They both learn through asking questions. It’s the simplest and most effective way of learning. Yet somehow we have forgotten this lesson as we get older. We just don’t value questioning as much as we should.

Not asking good or even enough questions has a direct impact on the quality of choices you make. Habituating the art of asking questions enables you to gain deep insight, develop more innovative solutions and to arrive at better decision-making.

Brilliant thinkers and scientists never stop asking questions. “Asking questions is the single most important habit for innovative thinkers,” says Paul Sloane, the UK’s top leadership speaker on innovation.

  • Newton: “Why does an apple fall from a tree but, why does the moon not fall into the Earth?”
  • Darwin: “Why do the Galapagos Islands have so many species not found elsewhere?”
  • Einstein: “What would the universe look like if I rode through it on a beam of light?”


Asking these kinds of basic questions started the process that led to their great breakthroughs. And asking questions is as relevant today. Only by constantly asking why can you find better products. In his book “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas”, Warren Berger cited the example of Edwin H. Land, who invented the Polaroid camera in response to his 3 year old daughter asking why the camera that they used couldn’t produce a photo immediately. There are plenty of other cases; Airbnb exists as a response to the question “why should you be stuck without a bed if I’ve got an extra air mattress?”

The list is endless, as many companies and even entire industries can be traced back to a single question.

How do we master the art and science of asking effective questions and how do we make it a habit?

  1. Create an environment where curiosity is welcomed and rewarded.
  2. Become a keen observer of everything you see, hear and experience.
  3. Look at the world with fresh eyes, question the familiar, assume nothing is obvious.
  4. Understand the power of different types of questions – how they should be used and when.
  5. Keep asking why till you can go no further.

“Good questioning should stimulate, provoke, inform and inspire” says Sloane, while Berger feels it can “help us learn, explore the unknown and adapt to change”. What could be a great question that could shift the way you or your organisation perceive or think about something that has the potential to act as a catalyst for change?

Source: The Importance Of Asking Questions | ogilvydo.com


McKinsey & Company | Why it’s still a world of ‘grow or go’

imgres-1In a challenging environment, growth matters more than ever.

Growth is magic. It makes it easier to fund new investments, attract great talent, and acquire assets. But the environment for growth has been difficult since 2008, and while there are signs that the Great Recession is at last receding, significant challenges remain. Real-GDP growth in the United States remains below historical averages; the economies of most European countries are still sluggish; and growth in emerging markets, particularly the BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—is slowing down.

For more than a decade, we’ve been building and mining a global-growth database containing hundreds of the largest US and European companies. Recently, we’ve been revisiting some of the core analyses in the 2008 book, The Granularity of Growth,1 to see if the challenging environment of recent years has shifted the picture of fundamentals we painted before the financial crisis. The answer is no, though the economic context arguably has increased the importance of an effective growth strategy.

Survival rates

Healthy growth boosts corporate survival rates, which was true in 2008 and remains true in the United States and in other developed markets. From 1983 to 2013, for instance, roughly 60 percent of the nonfinancial companies then in the S&P 500 were acquired—it’s grow or go, and they have gone. Consider these findings over that period:

  • Sixty of the 78 S&P 500 companies that generated top-line growth and improved or at least maintained their margins outperformed the S&P 500.
  • Companies with deteriorating margins performed less well, even if these companies were growing; just 8 out of 30 outperformed the index.
  • A higher percentage (56 percent) of companies that grew slowly, but also aggressively distributed cash to shareholders, outperformed the S&P 500.

As analysis of these companies’ total returns to shareholders (TRS) suggests (Exhibit 1), growth is only a means to the ultimate end: creating value. Not all growth opportunities are equal. Still, there’s no escaping the fact that growth is a critical driver of performance as measured by total returns to shareholders. And TRS under performers are far more likely to be acquired.

Continue reading this article via the source: Why it’s still a world of ‘grow or go’ | McKinsey & Company

Why Marketers Should Consider Artificial Intelligence When Reaching Out To Consumers

Robots are often the first point of contact in the process of customer engagement.

Source: Why Marketers Should Consider Artificial Intelligence When Reaching Out To Consumers

Predictive Analytics | Applying it to #Sales and #Marketing

Several weeks ago, I was in a meeting with a group of senior executives at one of the oldest business information companies in the United States, and the conversation shifted to lead generation:

“Results are horrendous, incredibly weak. Much of these leads are unusable. High percentages from Gmail, AOL, Hotmail… So many unknowns and, well, at least some decision makers, along with the rest of usual useless information.”

Anyone who works in today’s digital marketing space knows this is a common conversation that is hard to fix.

So, is bad #data the real issue for us or is it that we are chasing down the wrong path?

Think about it. We spend millions of dollars chasing individuals who download content, attend webinars or throw business cards into fishbowls at conferences and shows. We spend very little trying to figure out what is really going on inside a company of interest.

Things that sales and marketing agree on:

  • Purchasing is a team exercise
  • Figuring out what the consensus inside of buying teams is a tough job to figure out
  • There is a value to downloaded content as a proxy for team interest
  • An individual act tells us nothing about its organizations intent.

Is it time to devalue the downloaded white paper as our lead generation currency? (Sales people will love this one, Marketing, maybe not) 

More to the point, isn’t it time to evolve and begin the process of understanding the corporate body language through a variety of data points that are already available to us? Would it not be better to understand that the almighty download can and should be part of a larger canvas where a broader, more accurate picture emerges?

Even at it’s broadest level, #predictive #analytics can come in some simple forms.

6 examples of simple forms that apply basic predictive analytics:

  1. You can use any number of competitive search tools to understand what keywords and key phrases are collectively perceived as important when prospects begin their journey to find you
  2. And if you look historically backwards, you will be able to see what changed and potentially why
  3. You can also develop an understanding for funnel position (where companies are in the sales funnel by segmenting out keywords based on a natural progression of educating oneself.
  4. You can then use that analysis to make sure your own website is in tune editorially – are you mapping to what is important at that moment in time to companies that are consuming the content aligned with your objectives?
  5. You can find sites where these keywords exist ON PAGE in ways that align with your objectives. Page Indexing has grown up and become very sophisticated.
  6. Just this simple knitting together of these two components begin to give you an indication of trends and volume of content that is out there and that your prospects are consuming

Then do this:

  • Use IP identification and targeting to match who you see on your site and who is consuming the relevant content across the Web. This type of targeting will enable you to report back on which companies are most active in consuming specific keywords across contextually aligned sites.
  • This gives you a marriage of your data and external data that help you develop prioritization for sales, messaging across marketing, content development and most of all – IT GETS YOU OUT OF DEPENDING ON WHITE PAPER DOWNLOADS as your proxy for interest.
  • Once you add your crm and marketing automation data, revealing what companies you currently talk to are most engaged – you have a clear path to a strategy.

To review:

  • Analyze the competitive set to understand how everyone is deploying search and keywords
  • Utilize page indexing to understand where the content is
  • Use IP identification and targeting to tell you who and what and how many from where
  • Knit your own data in to complete the virtuous circle

The age of #Predictive #Automation is upon us. Take the initial steps needed to understand organizational #intent and funnel position, and your sales organization will stop complaining about those lousy leads you send them.

#Marketing #Automation’s Star Is Rising – Enterprise Apps Today

There is a trend towards greater unification of #sales and #marketing functions…

#Marketing #automation aligns sales and marketing teams and helps them provide personalized interactions to prospects and customers.

Source: Marketing Automation’s Star Is Rising – Enterprise Apps Today