Tuesday, May 28, 2013

CEOs, Social Media is Now Essential to Your Success

CEOs, do you feel overwhelmed by thousands of comments about you and your company on Twitter? Please don't panic, this is actually and opportunity for you to succeed in your job. Social media's explosive growth is changing the role of the CEOs. As a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program, I have identified several articles CEOs need to read.

 140 Characters of Risk: Some CEOs Fear Twitter talks about only a handful of high-profile CEOs are active on Twitter, despite pressure to be accessible. They mention the pressure of maintaining ideal public image and being responsible to the company. Also the article presents the adoption gap between CEO of different ages. Some younger CEOs such as Tony Hsieh has moved to Instagram to share photos. He believes this is one step forward compared to Twitter and Facebook.

Just 16% Of CEOs Use Social Media is a neat study the shows stats about CEO’s twitter usage. The study found that only 16 percent are active on social media channels, yet 71 percent of CEOs consider technology as the most important part of determining an organization’s future over the next three years, ranking ahead of even something as pivotal as a change in the economy.  “…This need for knowledge is an opportunity for the CMO to step up to the plate… organizations are still focused on understanding markets, not individual customers, with more than 80 per cent of CMOs relying on market research and competitive benchmarking.” The article suggests there is a good justification. This finding is crucial because the presence on social media is rally a necessity and soft power for future CEOs.

From my analysis of these two articles and my other studies at Northwestern, here are three action items I recommend you implement immediately.  They are:

1. Rethink what you can reach –Social media nowadays is just like going to a social event. You don’t want to lock your self at home and lose the opportunity to make meaningful connection with people, do you?

Time, fear, and an unknown ROI are some reasons CEOs don't use social media. Recent research reveals that CEOs believe that in the next five years social media will push past websites, call centers and channel partners to become the No. 2 way to engage customers after face-to-face communications. CEOs in 2010s should be aware that the benefit and the necessity of social media being a main communication channel to reach out all the stakeholders.  The social media experience is a brand’s persona building for their companies and rethink how many time a CEO should allocate to the No.2 communication channel of all.

2. Keep is Authentic and Intimate –Social media is all about who you are, what you do, and how you react to things.

Because they are not immersed in social media, these CEOs are in the uncomfortable position of having to rely on the counsel of less-experienced, Gen Y advisors. Some CEOs nowadays hire a team to come up with the twitter content. I would recommend just keep it genuine, take initiative, and be who you are. It’s always hard to take the first step, so as social media for CEOs. Practice to make perfect. It’s OK to apologize on social media.  Corporate leaders are humans too, so live with it.

3. Try a private Twitter account –In that way you can practice your social media skills in a risk free environment and you will not be overwhelmed too quick.

Not all CEOs are as outspoken. If the initial launch on Twitter is not on your short term list, then try a private that only your family and your close friends can see the twits. As you are more comfortable with twitting, move one step further: open your account to the public.

By following these 3 steps, you as a CEO can better sleep at night.  You will build a very positive image for your company as being responsible and approachable. For you, social media is also a smart personal branding strategy for you to success in your job.

Gary Wang is a master’s student in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. He has multiple working experiences in wine industry both in U.S.A and China. Follow her @gwang87. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Create the Presentation You Would Want to Attend

Times are a changin’. Today, even a young child has the capacity to create a full-fledged PowerPoint. But despite the increase of technology and overall usage, there still remains a pervasive lack of understanding on presenting effectively. Forget remembering to breathe and talk slowly. Here are some not-so-obvious recommendations.

Get creative. Everyone has sat through too many unimaginative, dull presentations. That’s because a lot of information is not worth presenting. But often times, that’s not up to you to decide. Therefore, think beyond sharing numbers, concepts or messaging. Storytelling is the best way to teach. Illustrating your points through narrative offers a sense of increased engagement, comprehension, and remembrance. As with all good stories, creating a full-fledged narrative carries a beginning, middle and end: where we were, where we are and where we need to go. As Chris Brogan mentions, “consider a main character with a problem that needs solving. Maybe [they] have too many spreadsheets and not enough links, and people are starting to give her information in ways that her spreadsheets are overflowing their banks.” Clearly it’s a little silly, especially with dry information such as quarterly finance reports or sales projections. The point is, people appreciate your willingness for creativity. As Brogan sums up, “The presumption is that there’s something inherent in your presence that people can’t get from just browsing the brochure or reading online.”

How you use slides is all wrong. Obviously your slide deck is there to supplement your message, not do your presenting for you, therefore, keep your content simple.To best optimize your customers time and attention, consider the 10/20/30 rule created by entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki: no more than ten slides, total presentation time under twenty minutes and keep your font size always at 30 points or larger. Keeping your overall presentation uncluttered seems intuitive but most people struggle to boil down great content to the concise themes your recipients need and can digest. People generally can handle three to four major thoughts or topics at once. Don’t overwhelm.
Secondly, know your slides so that the focus is on you and your slides move seamlessly through your well-rehearsed content. As John Greathouse from Forbes points out, “The effectiveness of TedTalk speakers has a great deal to do with structure. Notice how the speakers time the builds of their slides to accentuate their key points and craft a story that engages their audience.”

Engage. If there is a formal rule that exists which states presentations should only be a talking head, I’m not aware of it. Depending on the context of your presentation and if the circumstances allow, leveraging additional voices and thoughts from your audience can allow for wonderful collaboration and refreshing dialogue. Best of all, it removes a lot of the inherent stress of being the center of the presentation. Keep in mind this can also be done wrong, however. Your inability to control a lively, vocal crowd can quickly derail messaging and your overall effectiveness. Unfortunately all to common is also the pervasive cold call questioning, typically resulting in an uncomfortable lag filled with crickets. If you tentatively plan to ask specific questions, preparing your audience prior to doing so will not only provide you a better answer but appreciation from your viewers. 

Extra nuggets of thought: 1) Remember to smile. Even when you’re a ball of emotions as a presenter, happiness naturally puts people at ease. 2) Be customer-centric. Every text, image, and word you use should be considered thoughtfully. Famous presenter Steve Jobs was brilliant at this aspect.

Bradley Allred - MS Candidate in Integrated Marketing at Northwestern University - Specializing in brand management & digital marketing. Follow him on Twitter @bradleyallred



Monday, May 13, 2013

CEOs - Learn the secret to motivating employees!

As a CEO, understanding employee motivation of the new Millennial culture is a key to business success. As a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC program, I have been studying the impact of culture and new ways to work and how it impacts employee productivity and their relationship with your company. I have found two articles which effectively highlight the opportunities culture brings to an organization. 

In the article “ Employees First, Customers Second Culture: Why it Really Works in the MarketVineet Nayar, talks about how employees can be motivated. He talks about the importance of trust, which needs to be built between the employees and the management. I think one of the key ingredients in building trust is giving employees autonomy. Lets take the example of Google, the leader in innovation. Some of its best products like Orkut, Gmail and Google News were a result of the time employees were allowed to spend working on projects that were of interest to them. Autonomy lead them to produce their best work. Realistically speaking all organizations are not at the same life-stage as Google but the key is to make the employees feel like they are in control whether you are a start-up or a Giant like Google. Employees need to work on projects that they are passionate about. This practice would produce the most creative solutions.

Source :http://bit.ly/19jXbvp
Dan Pink in his article "A Radical Prescription for Sales" talks about the different motivators. He talks about how financial motivators like commissions, bonuses that he refers to as the “if-then” rewards work well only for mundane tasks and not for complex. The “if you do this, you get that“ approach actually hinders creativity. If organizations want their employees to be creative they need to be motivated by more than financial motivators. Google’s employee-centric approach by giving employees all that they need at the workplace from food to gym to salon etc. reflects that they are fostering an environment where employees would want to work. The employee focused approach leads to a more satisfied work force, which is reflected in increased productivity. The lesson for organizations is that they need to focus on meeting the needs of their employees. Yes providing the facilities that Google does might not be realistic for most organizations but small steps can be taken.

From my review of these two articles and other work on employee motivation at Northwestern, there are three main action items you should consider implementing in your company.

  • Autonomy - give employees an hour a week to work on a project that interests them.
  • Training - have workshops once every month to teach employees a new skill.
  • Work place perks - offer employees perks like free laundry service on friday.
To encourage employees to take a more right-brain approach to work organizations should take these three steps. As CEOs you need to understand what motivates your employees to maximize productivity. Research has shown that financial compensation works when tasks are mundane. In this competitive environment where companies rely highly on their employees ability to think out of the box, they need to be motivated to do so. Understand your employees to better motivate them and get them to perform their best.

Ayesha Aleem is a MS. candidate in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University with an emphasis on analytics. She has previously worked as a Business and Digital Media Analyst. Follow @ayeshanovski.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Recognition Doesn't Happen By Clicking your Ruby Slippers

Have you spent any time lately on building awareness of all the great work you do?  Hmmm...that’s what I thought.  Very few of the female entrepreneurs, smaller business owners and even executives that I work spend enough time marketing their personal brand.

 While so many of us are good at working hard (my closest colleagues are some of the biggest martyrs I know), we often fall short when it comes to working smart—especially when it comes to promoting the great work that we do.  Professional recognition, from business awards to executive profiles to placements on corporate or community boards, is a great way to increase your personal visibility and brand awareness.

Tell Your Story
The most recognized leaders of our time all have one thing in common:  they passionately believe in their work.  They communicate it.  They tell and promote their story.  And, the next day, they get up and do it all over again.  Whether you are a corporate exec or entrepreneur, make sure you learn how to tell your story really well.  Practice it on family and friends to start.  Say it to the mirror in the morning.  Write about it.  Record it.  Once you fully believe in yourself and can share your story with others, the more likely they will help tell and share your story.  What’s your story? How do you differentiate yourself?  Here’s a simple, but fun video that shares ideas on how even your business card can help tell your story http://bit.ly/15bGzbE.
Ask For What You Want
Pam Jeffrey, president and CEO of the Jeffery Group and founder of the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) Top 100 Most Powerful Women Awards believes women should ask for what they want.  Whether that means nominating yourself or asking a colleague to nominate you for an award, you need to proactively go after it.  On many occasions, you will be surprised on how many women are willing to help.  So if you want to be recognized, go for it.  Don’t be shy.

Teach & Mentor – Pay it Forward
Sometimes the best way to gain professional klout is to teach what you know to others.  Look for guest lecturing opportunities at local universities or speak at your professional association’s monthly luncheon.  Sometimes the best way to get recognition is to get away from your office, company and usual lunch buddies.  It’s often the people that you DON’T work with everyday that recognize your greatest talents.  And whatever you, don’t forget to help others along the way.   Proactively reward good work.  Be a role model for encouraging people’s natural talents. 

Here are some other great tips http://bit.ly/10pIvg4.    

Be Authentic
Lastly, be authentic in all you do.  The worst thing you can do is to try and be something that you are not.   You won’t be able to pull it off and others won’t believe it.  Make sure your story is unique to you and showcases your passion for what you do.  Then, get out there and promote it.  Go ahead, stop waiting for those magic ruby slippers (and the wand, of course) and go out and tell your story.  Celebrate you. 

Melissa Murphy is marketing and business planning consultant that works primarily with female entrepreneurs and small business owners.  Previous clients include Charlie the Tuna and Morris the Cat.  She is also a graduate student at Northwestern University. Follow her at @melissamurphyco.