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.

Big Data Trends | Strategies driving investments in data

imgresLast year, IDG published a study 2015 Big Data and Analytics, Insights into Initiatives and Strategies Driving Data Investments that was based on interviews with 1,139 IT leaders from nine industries with high tech (16%), government (12%), financial services (11%) and manufacturing (9%) being the top four industries surveyed.

 

Key findings Infographic:

Below are a few key take-aways, the report is embedded at the bottom of this post:

  • 80% of enterprises surveyed have data-driven and big data projects in implementing or planning stages today versus 63% of SMBs. 37% of enterprises have deployed data-driven projects in the last year, and 18% are in the process of implementing or piloting projects as of today.
  • 83% of organizations prioritized structured data initiatives as critical or high priority in 2015, and 36% increased their budgets for data-driven initiatives.
  • Improving the quality of decision making (61%), improving planning and forecasting (57%) and increasing the speed of decision making (51%) are the three most common business goals and objectives driving data-driven initiatives in organizations today. The following graphic compares which business initiatives are driving big data investment and the positive impact of big data on each.
  • 36% of enterprises expect their IT budget allocations for data-driven initiatives increased in 2015, 41% anticipated budget levels would remain at current levels and 21% aren’t sure. Only 3% say data-driven and big data-related project funding will decrease.
  • Data analytics continues to accelerate as the most preferred solution for gaining greater business insight and value from data, with this category increasing in importance 55% from 2014 survey results. In enterprises, data analytics (65%), visual dashboards (47%), data mining (43%), data warehousing (40%) and data quality (39%) are the five most preferred solutions. In my discussions with CIOs in financial services and manufacturing companies, the shift away from pre-built dashboards with common metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to the flexibility of defining their own data models in metrics is the future. Dashboards in financial institutions need to have the flexibility of quickly integrating entire new metrics and KPIs as their business models change. For manufacturers, the need for interpreting shop floor data to financial results is what’s driving data analysis and dashboards in the many manufacturing industries adopting analytics today.
  • The number of enterprises who have deployed/implemented data-driven projects increased 125% in the last year, with 42% still planning data implementations as of today. The following graphic from the study illustrates a comparison of 2014 and 2015 plans for considering, planning and implementing data-driven projects.

 

View the report here:

Download the IDG Report: 2015 Big Data and Analytics, Insights into Initiatives and Strategies Driving Data Investments

LinkedIn Cheat Sheet | Improve your profile

Increasing your visibility and building your network LinkedIn may require a few tweaks to your profile…

From how to frame your LinkedIn profile photo, what words to avoid, and the ideal number of LinkedIn connections to have through to how you can get more recommendations, here is the cheat sheet that can help you build a profile that stands out…

Big Data Trends | Strategies driving investments in data

IDG Enterprise logoLast year, IDG published a study 2015 Big Data and Analytics, Insights into Initiatives and Strategies Driving Data Investments that was based on interviews with 1,139 IT leaders from nine industries with high tech (16%), government (12%), financial services (11%) and manufacturing (9%) being the top four industries surveyed.

 

Key findings Infographic:

Below are a few key take-aways, the report is embedded at the bottom of this post:

  • 80% of enterprises surveyed have data-driven and big data projects in implementing or planning stages today versus 63% of SMBs. 37% of enterprises have deployed data-driven projects in the last year, and 18% are in the process of implementing or piloting projects as of today.
  • 83% of organizations prioritized structured data initiatives as critical or high priority in 2015, and 36% increased their budgets for data-driven initiatives.
  • Improving the quality of decision making (61%), improving planning and forecasting (57%) and increasing the speed of decision making (51%) are the three most common business goals and objectives driving data-driven initiatives in organizations today. The following graphic compares which business initiatives are driving big data investment and the positive impact of big data on each.
  • 36% of enterprises expect their IT budget allocations for data-driven initiatives increased in 2015, 41% anticipated budget levels would remain at current levels and 21% aren’t sure. Only 3% say data-driven and big data-related project funding will decrease.
  • Data analytics continues to accelerate as the most preferred solution for gaining greater business insight and value from data, with this category increasing in importance 55% from 2014 survey results. In enterprises, data analytics (65%), visual dashboards (47%), data mining (43%), data warehousing (40%) and data quality (39%) are the five most preferred solutions. In my discussions with CIOs in financial services and manufacturing companies, the shift away from pre-built dashboards with common metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to the flexibility of defining their own data models in metrics is the future. Dashboards in financial institutions need to have the flexibility of quickly integrating entire new metrics and KPIs as their business models change. For manufacturers, the need for interpreting shop floor data to financial results is what’s driving data analysis and dashboards in the many manufacturing industries adopting analytics today.
  • The number of enterprises who have deployed/implemented data-driven projects increased 125% in the last year, with 42% still planning data implementations as of today. The following graphic from the study illustrates a comparison of 2014 and 2015 plans for considering, planning and implementing data-driven projects.

 

View the report here:

Download the IDG Report: 2015 Big Data and Analytics, Insights into Initiatives and Strategies Driving Data Investments

The Best BPM Platforms for Digital Business

In the last quarter of 2015, Forrester Research identified Pegasystems, Appian, and IBM as leading the field of suppliers of business process management platforms for today’s digital business.

This post focuses on the value that Pegasystems delivers to today that is transforming how their clients engage with their customers throughout each stage of engagement.

photoSource: Pega.com The complexity of today’s business makes it hard to truly know a person across marketing, sales and service. There are too many customers, too many permutations of what they need and too many obstacles. Your customer base has grown, and so has your need for more sophisticated technology that not only understands prospect and customer demands but also helps accomplish your business objectives. Initially, your systems did what you needed: track customers and help you market and sell to them. But as your enterprise acquires companies and systems, technology becomes a barrier to how you engage with customers — across departments, time zones and geographies. Complexity has also brought inflexibility, making it hard for systems to adapt to changing needs, changing markets and changing regulations. It also makes it difficult to train employees because they’re battling systems, not servicing customers..Click here to read more.

The 8 white boarding videos that follow will help you visualize the unique value that Pega is delivering value today to their clients customer engagement management initiatives around the customer experience…

Build for Change: Directly Capture Objectives (DCO)

With Pega 7, you capture the policies and procedures that define your business – including rules, data models, UIs, integrations, reports, and organizational structures – in the model. Pega 7 automates the code generation. As the requirements change, a change in the model equates to an immediate system change.

Build for Change: Situational Layer Cake

Situational Layer Cake™ (SLC) architecture enables organizations to differentiate, specialize, and reuse their business applications. Pilot projects can grow into enterprise transformation programs overnight. Instant reuse dramatically accelerates the time to value for organizations seeking to be more agile in response to changing market and regulatory demands.

Build for Change: Case Lifecycle Management™

When a business person starts explaining their needs for an enterprise, they don’t generally dive into process details. And they certainly don’t describe “transactions.” They think in terms of the case and its stages. Rather than drawing an end-to-end process, Pega 7 provides tools for business people to define the major steps of how work gets done – essentially building the skeleton on which you hang the more detailed process. You establish a business view of the data before debating the details.

Build for Change: Mashup

Traditional service or API-based architectures result in hard-coding the UX logic into each channel independently. Process changes must therefore be made in multiple places, making it impossible to deliver a consistent customer experience. By embedding the Pega UX directly into the mobile or web channels, all of the intelligence and capability of Pega 7’s Case Management is brought directly to the customer touchpoint.

Build For Change: Omni-Channel UX

Pega’s Omni-Channel UX delivers an optimized and consistent user experience in every channel. Learn more at http://www.pega.com/platform

Build For Change: Event Strategy Manager

Pega’s Event Strategy Manager gives you the tools you need to turn streams of customer data into valuable business decisions and actions. Learn more at http://www.pega.com/platform

Build for Change: Pega Live Data

Pega Live Data allows users to quickly and easily define the data required to build the apps they need, and then access that data in their running application – all without having to worry about how and where the data is actually stored and accessed.

Build for Change: Next Best Action

The real value from Big Data and analytics comes when every customer conversation delivers exactly the right message, the right offer, and the right level of service to both give the customer a great experience and maximize the customer’s value to the organization. With Pega’s Next Best Action, business experts develop decision strategies that combine predictive analytics,
adaptive analytics, traditional business rules.

 

The Forrester Wave™: BPM Platforms For Digital Business, Q4 2015

Key Takeaways: Pegasystems, IBM, and Appian lead the pack

Forrester’s research uncovered a market in which Pegasystems, Appian, and IBM continue to lead the pack. Software AG, Oracle, Newgen Software, OpenText, Bizagi, K2, and DST Systems offer competitive options. Red Hat and TIBCO Software lag behind. The BPM Platforms Market Is Growing As EA Pros Accelerate Digital Transformation The BPM platforms market is growing because more EA professionals see BPM as a way to address emerging challenges for customer experience and digital business. This market growth is, in large part, because EA pros increasingly trust BPM platform providers to act as strategic partners, helping them transform how they use technology to win, serve, and retain customers in the digital age. Differentiators Include Rapid Development, UX Design, And Case Management As legacy BPM technology becomes outdated and less effective, improved delivery speed and process flexibility will dictate which providers will lead the pack. Vendors that can provide fast ramp-up, flexible mobile experiences, and dynamic case management position themselves successfully to deliver speed and business agility to their customers.

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12 Great Content Marketing Ideas in 12 Months | Inc.com

getty_109439748_78464Content marketing is an important part of any business, especially if you’re looking to drive traffic and sales through optimizing search engine traffic. So what better time than now to start the new year off by establishing a content calendar? At our business dashboard startup Dasheroo this is exactly what we’ve been working on, and even though this provides a great blueprint for what we’ll need to produce, it’s just the starting point.

Source: 12 Great Content Marketing Ideas in 12 Months | Inc.com

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


Mobile online checkout and AI to be front of mind in 2016: Deloitte | ZDNet

mobileMobile online checkout and cognitive technologies are set to boom in 2016, according to the latest predictions made by Deloitte.In the Technology, Media & Telecommunications 2016 report, Deloitte believes the number of individuals who use a third-party touch-based payment service to make a purchase on their devices — which covers both smartphones and tablets — will increase by 150 percent to reach 50 million regular users.

Source: Mobile online checkout and AI to be front of mind in 2016: Deloitte | ZDNet

Email Pre-Flight Checklist: What To Do Before You Send – Automational Blog

Source: blog.automational.com

email-marketing-automation-blogIt’s unfortunate when you send an email to a marketing list only to realize that you’ve misspelled a critical word or left off an important part of your message. It’s worse when your opens and click-throughs don’t live up to your expectations, and you don’t know why until someone informs you the email you sent them arrived with broken formatting, or wasn’t readable on their smartphone.

To help remedy this, we’ve created a short list of things to double-check before you send the email to your list.

PROOFREAD

It’s easy to skimp on proofing since Microsoft Word and iOS Pages have so many tools to help out. One example of why electronic checks aren’t enough: “two bee or not too bee” is a sentence that is comprised entirely of words that are spelled correctly, but clearly convey the wrong message. Until spellcheckers have a better grasp of context, be sure to check your email for spelling and grammar errors before you send. These errors can damage your organization’s professional reputation and distract your recipients from your message.

USE A CLEAR “FROM” NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS

Generic senders such as “info@company.com” or “Sales” often get ignored. Make sure that the values you use for your “From” name and email clearly indicate who you are in order to avoid confusing your recipients. If they don’t recognize who the email is from, they aren’t going to open or read your message. The “From” identity should be someone that the reader knows (their account manager), recognizes (the CEO or other notable person), or would be expecting an email from (Customer Support or Automational Newsletter).

HAVE BACKUP VALUES FOR DYNAMIC CONTENT

Include a default value if you incorporate dynamic text into your emails. If a recipient’s first name is blank, for example, and you’re using a first name personalization, you want to ensure that this field is filled with something like “Loyal Customer” rather than nothing at all, which would cause them to receive an email that started with, “Dear .”

When you add dynamic text to your template, it will look something like this: ${Recipient.contact.firstname[0]!””}. Including a default value with your dynamic text (just in case that data isn’t filled out for a recipient on your list) looks something like this: ${Recipient.contact.firstname[0]!”Customer”}.

TEST YOUR LINKS

Make sure all of your links work prior to sending your email. Broken links will prevent your recipients from accessing your content and may make them less likely to try again in future emails.

CHECK YOUR TEMPLATE ON MOBILE DEVICES

You already know that a huge percentage of emails are read on mobile devices, but do you know how your template will respond to the variety of devices and browsers with which it could be opened? Most marketing automation tools will allow you to preview your message on different sized screens and make sure everything appears as intended.

INCLUDE A TEXT VERSION OF YOUR HTML EMAIL TEMPLATE

The text version provides additional support for your template so anyone who doesn’t receive HTML emails (whether by choice or because their email client doesn’t support it) can still read your email. Including a text version will also decrease your spam score.

CHECK YOUR SUBJECT LINE

Your subject line is the first part of your email that your recipient will see, so it is vital that it grabs their attention and gives them a good idea of the purpose of your email. Sending out emails with an irrelevant subject line or with a subject line containing typos or grammatical errors can decrease your email open rate and harm your credibility. Include keywords that will resonate with or appeal to your audience, while avoiding key spam trigger words or phrases such as “free,” “earn money,” or “meet singles.”

KEEP IT SHORT

Regardless of the purpose of your email, remember that your email is just one of dozens (maybe even hundreds!) of emails that landed in your recipient’s inbox today. Consider this a “back to the basics” best practice: keep it as short as you can without losing the core message.

Break the content into sections for better readability. Ideally, your recipient would read every word of your email, but in truth, many readers will probably skim the message. As you’re writing, make it your goal that the reader should be able to determine the key elements of your message and the action you’d like them to take with only a 10-second scan through your email.

CREATE RESULTS WITH A CLEAR AND COMPELLING CALL-TO-ACTION

What are you hoping to achieve with this email? Generate registrations to an upcoming event? Drive downloads of your latest eBook? Include a very clear call-to-action that instructs the reader to do just that (“Register Here” or “Get the eBook”). Limit the number of links and options within the email to encourage the customer to act on your primary offer.

BUILD BRAND CONSISTENCY: TONE, VOICE, AND IMAGERY

The customer should be able to recognize your company identity immediately when they open and read the email. Always include your company name and logo to reinforce your brand. The tone of the content should match your company as well. An email from a pet sitter could be fun and playful, but imagine getting an email from a funeral home with the same tone.

Whether conversational or more conservative, make sure your tone is consistent across communication channels, speak to your audience in a simple, straightforward manner, and keep pushy sales lingo to a minimum.

BECOME A CONTENT CRITIC

Before your email is marked as spam, double-check your content for potentially problematic words and phrases. Words like “discount,” “pharmacy,” and even “spam,” as well as large numbers, dollar signs, or excessive exclamation points, can make your message seem less credible.

Providing relevant content, writing an appropriate subject line, and using professional language and punctuation will help boost the legitimacy of your communications.

| CRM & Marketing Automation Tips

Download a one pager of this list via: Email Pre-flight Checklist

 

LinkedIn Cheat Sheet | Improve your profile

Increasing your visibility and building your network LinkedIn may require a few tweaks to your profile…

From how to frame your LinkedIn profile photo, what words to avoid, and the ideal number of LinkedIn connections to have through to how you can get more recommendations, here is the cheat sheet that can help you build a profile that stands out…

LinkedIn Infographic Cheat Sheet.png