Does your boss tweet?

posted 7 Nov 2012, 05:31 by Brian Pickering   [ updated 7 Nov 2012, 08:36 ]

More bosses should tweet 

Richard Branson recently nailed his colours to the mast very much in favour of social networks. From the CEO of the Virgin Group, it is perhaps no surprise that he claims to be an active participant in social media because it is important for his business. He recognises, though, that there is more to it: Embracing social media isn’t just a bit of fun, it is a vital way to communicate, keep your ear to the ground and improve your business. (loc cit)

But employers don't play fair...

Some people are a little sceptical about such an approach though, warning against potentially embarrassing posts to social network sites that are visible not only to friends, but to work colleagues and managers. There’s no doubt, though, that if used wisely social media can boost an applicant’s chances of success. 91% of employers review prospective employees via social networking sites, 76% using facebook, 53% twitter and 48% LinkedIn; 47% look on sites after receiving an application and before even talking to the candidate. A staggering 69% claim to have rejected a candidate on the basis of what they saw online (inappropriate photos, comments, behaviours and so forth); whilst almost the same number (68%) hired a candidate on the strength of the impression created (statistics from Reppler, which contains other useful statistics about on-line activity).

A Study of CEO’s

In his LinkedIn post, Branson referred to a fairly extensive IBM  study of CEO's and their attitudes to social networks. 1,709 CEO's and senior public sector leaders across 18 industries and 64 countries were contacted. In summary, the industry leaders agreed a set of three imperatives for ongoing success:

  1. Empowering employees through values: employees across organisations are being encouraged to learn from each other and pool resource and knowledge to help drive innovation. 65% of them saw ethics and values, as well as 65% a collaborative environment as significant for their success. Only 58% by comparison highlighted purpose and mission.
  2. Engaging customers as individuals: efforts to understand customers (see “Commercial exploitation…” below) and involve all stakeholders in the value chain (see “Sustainability”), respondents underlined a real need to involve their customers directly. It is just as important to step up an understanding of individual customer needs as it is to improve response times to market needs (72% of respondents in each case).
  3. Amplifying innovation with partnerships: now more than ever, organisations are partnering even with those who previously would be regarded as competitors, and those from completely different or new industries. External partnering is seen as a key source of innovation (59% of “outperformers” recognise this as opposed to 46% of their less successful counterparts).

The push in IBM terms is about “leading through connections”; underlying it all, though, is participation, which – as outlined below – has both social and economic implications.

And a socio-economic take

Through the various workshops SESERV organised ( Oxford, Athens, Brussels) and the associated focus groups reported on in this year’s deliverables (D1.5, D2.2, and D3.2), we have highlighted the need for all of the FI stakeholders we have identified to be engaged: notwithstanding the knock-on effects for network operators, there is an increasing drive for participation: users are driving innovation, typically via non-PC devices, even around what would previously have been branded as having little cultural value. Over time, we have seen demonstrated:

  • Commercial exploitation of social networking sitesOn the one hand, more and more commercially useful information can be gathered from such socially-focussed engagement on-line (SocIoSSOCIETIESthe IBM Smart Planet campaign). Our FI presence seeds the commercial innovation the IBM study emphasised as important. But it is not necessarily the services and applications assumed for driving the virtuous cycle (link); instead it is to do with
  • Participation: Despite perceived trust issues (including privacy and how we actually measure and maintain trust), the WeGov study showed (among other things) that end-users want to engage and are willing to participate at any level. It is such participation and a need for on-line presence as well as collaboration which are driving progress for the FI (end-users are already participating on their own terms); and at the same time
  • Sustainabilitythe need for collaboration and the beneficial effects on innovation and sustainability have been recognised for some time. Werbach,Global CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, highlights transparency (letting people know what’s important and what’s going on), engagement (including all relevant parties) and networking (collaborating with similar and related parties) are essential in moving forward on sustainability. The Boston Consultancy Group talk along the same lines of the need to involving multiple stakeholders because it is beneficial if not essential for sustainability, and just as the CEO's in the IBM study said, there should be cooperation internally as well as externally across the whole value chain. 
They (the Boston Consultancy Group) point to an ambiguity of perceptions, with “novice practitioners” focused solely on environmental and regulatory factors, whereas those with “more knowledge about sustainability” consider social, economic and political impacts as an “an integral part of value creation” requiring collaboration across the entire value chain. In exactly the same way, Branson’s call for CEO’s to exploit the power of social media reflects what has become increasingly clear during SESERV-initiated FISE conversations: the Future Internet must be based on technology that supports the creation and future growth of online communities. Industry will benefit from mining such socially-focused activity; and infrastructure providers will have no choice but to meet the resource challenges head on.