Help Your CEO to Become More Social – And Your Business to be More Competitive

From Jason Averbrook at Knowledge Infusion:

I just read an interesting article on, authored by Mark Fidelman entitled, IBM Study: If You Don’t Have a Social CEO, You’re Going to be Less Competitive. I absolutely agree.

The article focuses on a recent study by IBM that looked at over 1700 CEOs around the world to find out how they are participating in social media, and what effect that has on the success of the businesses they run.

What IBM discovered was that only about 16% of CEOs participate in social media. However, the study concludes that the percentage will likely grow to 57% within 5 years.

As CEOs begin to recognize that traditional communication (phone, email, meetings) doesn’t offer the same kind of reach with customers, suppliers, and employees, they are turning to social media to get their message out.

According to the study the big takeaway is that using social technologies will enable the organization to be more adaptive and agile.

With all due respect to IBM, and the non-HR-technology community… duh.

As the IBM study concludes:

“As CEOs ratchet up the level of openness within their organizations, they are developing collaborative environments where employees are encouraged to speak up, exercise personal initiative, connect with fellow collaborators, and innovate.”

In other words, the CEO sets the tone for the rest of the organization. By participating and promoting the use of social technologies, they send a clear message to the organization as to the value of utilizing these tools to become more agile and responsive to changing market conditions.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.
  • Companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness – often characterized by a greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation – as a key influence on their organization.
  • While social media is the least utilized of all customer interaction methods today, it stands to become the number two organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions.
  • More than half of CEOs (53 percent) are planning to use technology to facilitate greater partnering and collaboration with outside organizations, while 52 percent are shifting their attention to promoting great internal collaboration.
  • CEOs regard interpersonal skills of collaboration (75 percent), communication (67 percent), creativity (61 percent) and flexibility (61 percent) as key drivers of employee success to operate in a more complex, interconnected environment.
  • Championing collaborative innovation is not something CEOs are delegating to their HR leaders. According to the study findings, the business executives are interested in leading by example.

Two things…

First, if you are an HR leader (or know someone who is), that last bullet should get your attention. It doesn’t say CEO’s are not interested HR leading the way, just that CEOs would prefer to participate, rather than delegate when it comes to utilizing social technology.  GO TO YOUR CEO TODAY AND ASK TO PARTNER ON ONE OF THESE INITIATIVES!

Secondly, why do we keep “waiting for the CEO to embrace” [you name it]? Especially social media technology that we in HR, know is effective. Not to mention, most HR departments are already several steps ahead on social technology usage and, once again, have a golden opportunity to provide LEADERSHIP for our organizations. Yet we sit back and wait for an executive to sanction what we already know works. BUILD A “PILOT” OF THESE TECHNOLOGIES INTO YOUR ACTION PLAN TODAY!

I’ve said it before. Now is the time for HR to be BOLD. Be confident in what you know about social technology, even if you’ve only used it in limited ways. You have knowledge and expertise your CEO needs – and better yet wants.

Some corporate recruiters question the need to use Twitter for recruiting when you already have Facebook, LinkedIn and traditional job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder. “Job boards do still work – for active candidates,” said Samuel Dergel, owner of CFO2Grow, a finance recruiting and executive search firm in Montreal, Canada. “We find that they are ineffective for passive candidates,” such as those who may not be searching for a job, but would be open to leaving if the right opportunity came along. Dergel says such candidates tend to be active on Twitter May 19, 2012

From Jody Ordioni:

In a Bullhorn Reach Study, Only 21% of recruiters are using all three social networks. In fact, 48% are using only LinkedIn! Apparently these recruiters haven’t seen the study from Jobvite that showed that, in 2011, 50% of job-seekers used Facebook to find a job, 25% used Twitter, while only 26% used LinkedIn. Why aren’t recruiters fishing where the fish are?

Of course, the use of social media, by either recruiters or job-seekers, doesn’t necessarily mean success. But in case after case, I’ve found that it does.

For example, in 2010, UPS announced that it received applications from 680 people who arrived via Twitter — and hired 45 of them. Almost 4,000 people applied via Facebook, 226 of whom were hired. Heck, UPS even received 1,000 applications from candidates communicating via text messages. But I bet few recruiters have created a strategy for texting.

I also recommend that our clients use YouTube for talent acquisition. Though it’s the world’s second-largest search engine (second to its parent Google), you’d be amazed at how few people actually have a YouTube recruitment strategy in place.