The Two Most Important Skills Of The New Leaders.

LEGO Darth Pirate

Silos beget compliance. Silos are getting in our way and so is compliance. Things are changing but it’s changing slower than many of us would like. In the meantime we’re left with porous organizations with the semblance of vertical structures (and the illusion of control).

Consciously or subconsciously we do not like to give up power. As the fabric of business gets reworked, leaders are having to give up control to retain the ability to lead. This is causing friction from the top and the bottom. Both those at the top and the all important in-the-trenches-leader need to develop two skills that once were seen as weaknesses.

  1. The ability to take criticism
  2. The ability to admit you’re wrong

Taking Criticism

Think about our current leaders; political, corporate or any leader in a traditional command and control structure. How well does upper management take criticism from lower levels of the business or from the outside? Not well at all. In fact most leaders block out anything but immediate feedback from peers, those even higher and maybe if they’re a good manager those directly beneath them.

This is a fatal flaw. The best feedback often comes from those furthest away from you. Not to discredit the feedback from those around you but they’re often blind to the same things you are.

Even the trolls and the haters have a kernel of truth to their criticism. It doesn’t mean you should change your leadership style or your strategy just because someone #FAIL’s you on Twitter but it’s a data point to be considered. If enough #FAIL’s start racking up then you may want to do some navel gazing.

Being Wrong

In this agile world we live in now, knowing when you’re wrong is incredibly important. It can mean the difference from professional life or death. Often we make a decision, and it’s the right decision at the right time, but times change and the ability to abandon sunk costs and move on is tough and shouldn’t be taken lightly but shouldn’t be the reason not change course. It’s a tough balance and I highly recommend Seth Godin’s The Dip: When to Quit (and When to Stick)
for a quick read on how to assess the right way and time to move on.

Part of admitting to being wrong is the all challenging apology. If social media has taught me anything it’s that “I’m sorry” is incredibly powerful and we should be using it much more. Over the last five years I’ve been bordering on abusing it but not using it sucks. Two simple (heartfelt) words can often rebuild bridges once burned in the heat of the moment.

There are of course many more skills that you’ll need to acquire along the journey of leadership but without these two I don’t think you’ll ever get there.

What are your tips for not just developing these skills for yourself but helping upper management develop these skills?

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Photo credit by Balakov

The SDA 2010 Digital Marketing Outlook

A useful document.

Online Behaviours And Levels Of Participation Compared: 2007 – 2009

So in order:

  • Spectators 70%
  • Joiners 59%
  • Critics 37%
  • Conversationalists 33%
  • Creators 24%
  • Collectors 20%
  • Inactives 17%

The rise of digitization in the US..

Apple vs Google: The Same, But Different

How will we manage? Global stats and facts.

Watch this. Amazing stuff. You’ll be fascinated by some of the facts.

Did you know?

  • Of the 6.1 billion people in the world, 3.1 billion of those are in work
  • 77% of the US workforce have a Facebook account and 26% speak a second langauge
  • Fortune 500 companies receive about 2000 CVs a day
  • In 2007, 1 out of every 3 hires was made online
  • There are more Blackberries and iPhones in the world than there are people in the UK
  • More than 1m people signed up to Google Latitude in the first week
  • US workers collectively take 917 million sick days per year
  • Employees who surf the web are said to be 9% more productive

Hello Digiphobe, 4 minutes of your time please..

Watch this.

Is social media measurement really meaningless?

I’ve been reading and re-reading this article over the past few days and trying to fully understand Amy Kean of the IAB’s point of view who argues the ‘Yes’ side of the debate that social media measurement is indeed meaningless. I can understand her point of view but I’m of the ilk that believe in a different kind of measurement and that adopting the traditional ideologies of past successes is akin to putting a square peg in a round hole. I’ve said before that although ROI will always have its place (everyone will always wants to get the most bang from their buck), ROA (Return on Attention) will grow in importance in social media. You’re still getting a return on investment but in a different way.

Back to the article, the busker analogy doesn’t really work for me when comparing thumbs up to positive buzz and great reviews for a company. They aren’t directly comparable. For someone to go out of their way to generate positive buzz on a brands behalf or give a product a great review, there is value in that. Time spent plus insights provided, that’s definite value. Research also states that their message often has more impact than paid for marketing and communications.

It may not be in the traditional marketing sense of what ‘value’ is but for me, social media requires new metrics and benchmarks than to what has been tried and tested in years previous. Success now looks different. Instead of looking purely from a numbers perspective and at additional sales, is there value in increased levels of brand perception and awareness, along with the conversations and connections made because of the company activity? It’s intangible yet it’s still valuable.

Amy says that most senior management simply don’t understand it. While this may be a sweeping generalization across the board, there is some truth in it. This for me is where the paradigm of business control is changing. This won’t be for everyone, only the ones who are open to change, evolution and welcome new blood taking their company forward and in a new direction. The MD’s, the board members, all the ladies and gents high up who have been used to knowing everything they need to in order to take their business forward, are now bringing in new talent to change the culture, operations and future of the company. The MD will still be the MD but he/she has realised that a new set of skills is required for the ever changing business environment.  Edit – I had previously mentioned about Jean Wyllie leaving PN but as Kerry notes in the comments below this was out of context, my apologies.

Back to the article again, social media isn’t about directly increasing sales over a finite period. It’s more longer term than that, investing in and developing relationships. Potentially fruitful relationships that are seen to have a direct effect maybe not in sales but in other benchmarks like buzz / word of mouth. Let’s take the recent collaboration between BitchBuzz and Magners UK.

If you hadn’t heard about it, Magners UK decided to give away a case of its pear cider every day for a week on BitchBuzz. The target audience and the product was a perfect fit. The competition was cleverly integrated with Facebook Connect and as a result of the week long campaign, delivered approx 100 new fans to the Magners UK Facebook page every day for the duration of the campaign. They achieved over 8 times the fan conversion they had when supporting the giveaways based on engagement on Twitter and Facebook alone. Their objectives were simple, to build the community. The competition accounted for almost 40% of total Facebook fans.

Can you put a traditional value on that? No. What was the ROI on that? I don’t know. Is it important? Yes.

Amy also says that part of the role of the IAB’s social media council is to educate the industry about the opportunities in this space. Yet she’s declaring measurement meaningless? Sounds more like discounting a discipline rather than educating about it.

Will, Robin, Stephen, David and Drew what do you think? Is social media measurement meaningless? They are all much more knowledgable and experienced in this world than I am, so would be great to get their take on it all. Oh and feel free to disagree entirely if you think otherwise, interested to hear from other perspectives.

Brands 2.0: Branding in a digital world

Brands and Branding below is the book, the ‘offline’ version if you will, but here, you can download the PDF extract of Andy’s Brands&Brandingchapter which is Brands 2.0 – Brands in a digital world.

Don’t say I’m not good to you.

Click me to download.

The book in it’s entirety looks to be well worth checking out and is divided in to three parts:

1. Examining the case for brands,

2. Best practice in branding

3. The future for brands.

It’s a collaborative effort, written by 19 experts, and when I use the term ‘experts’ I actually mean it. The writers are the very cream of the crop.

Interacting via social media isn’t the preserve of the young

Following on from my post previously from The Times here another interesting read was found in the 16th April issue of NMA where Rebecca Jennings, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research wrote a similar piece how an older age than expected is using social media. The following is a repost of that article.

Most interactive marketers know that young consumers are very engaged in social media, but many fail to appreciate that the same social tools can also be used to reach older users. Recent Forrester research shows there are a significant number of European baby boomers – adults aged 43-63 – who already read social media on a regular basis, and another, slightly smaller subset who are already uploading their own content, like videos, onto the web. Marketers can take advantage of this by offering them value with useful information and support provided in a social context.

Overall, 47% of younger boomers – those online adults aged 43 to 52 – now engage with social media on a regular basis, as well as the 41% of older boomers – those aged 53 to 63 – that also take part. In each of the groups, more than a third can be classified as spectators, or those who are reading social content such as blogs at least monthly.

While boomers are taking the plunge into consuming social content, they’ve been slower at joining social networks; just 10% of younger boomers and just 7% of older boomers participate in this type of activity. For example, one of the most popular social networks aimed at older consumers, SagaZone in the UK, has around 45,000 users, compared to Facebook’s estimated 18m+ users.

Despite their resistance to joining social networks, both young and old boomers are contributing their own opinions online – known as being a critic. These critics do things like participate in forums or post their own reviews online. Encouragingly for marketers, around a tenth of both age groups fall in to this category and a slightly smaller percentage, 9% of younger boomers and 7% of older ones, are creators: those who upload their own content or write their own blogs.

Marketers should also take note that just as participation in social media varies between age groups, it also varies between European countries. Dutch boomers lead the pack as the most engaged older audience overall, with 69% of 43-52 year olds and 60% of 53-63 year olds using social media on a regular basis.Of these other Europeans, Italian boomers are the keenest creators, with around 17% of younger boomers and 14% of older boomers involved. Younger boomers in the UK are considerably more engaged than older ones, with around 52% of 43-52 year olds engaged in social media, but just 38% of 53-63 year olds. About 40% of boomers in both France and Spain are keen spectators but just a third of the German boomer audience are engaged in social media.

Mobile phones are the most searched for consumer electronics product; Apple the top brand

Below is a guest posting on the Hitwise blog by Richard Seymour, their UK intelligence analyst and resident gadget expert.

I found the below a pretty interesting read so hope Hitwise don’t mind me reposting. The hot consumer electronics list is full of insights so the webinar linked to below is a recommended click.

We have developed a tool to analyse the consumer electronics search data – The Hitwise Hot Consumer Electronics List. For the most recent week’s data (week ending 14/03/09), we can see that mobile phones are the most searched for products online, accounting for almost 30% of all consumer electronics searches. The top phone is consistently the Apple iPhone, with approximately 1 in 12 mobile phone searchers currently searching for all variations of the iPhone. The iPhone has so far only been surpassed on the odd week or two during the launches of new phones. For example, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic which launched on 23rd January 2009, took top spot during w\e 14th Feb, picking up 6.6% of all mobile phone searches. However it fell back to second spot the following week, where it remains with 4.7% of all mobile searches.

Mobile_phones_video_Games_computers_software_televisions_cameras_game_consoles_mp3_players_sat_navs_toys_hobbies_hitwise.png

1 in 10 searches are for video games – over twice as many as for games consoles in seventh place – with Resident Evil 5 the most searched for video game last week. Computers and software sit in third and fourth places, and televisions are the fifth most searched for gadget with 4.5% of all searches last week. Cameras, Mp3 players, Satellite Navigation systems, -dominated by TomTom – and Toys complete the top 10 most searched for consumer electronics product types.

Lego is the top Toys and Hobbies brand, accounting for almost 1 in 8 Toys and Hobbies searches. However, the Danish company doesn’t make it into our list of the overall top 20 most searched for consumer electronics brands. These are highlighted in the treemap below, which shows the most popular brands in the Hitwise Consumer Electronics List. The size of the box represents its relative size to the top 20, with the top 10 represented by their logos.

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We can see that Apple leads the pack, with 12% of all branded searches – almost twice as many as Nokia. As we saw above, Apple’s iPhone sits ahead of Nokia’s phones in the mobile phone market, but it is iTunes and their iPods that really sets the company apart from the rest of market in terms of searches. In the top 10, Samsung, Sony, LG and Panasonic all compete amongst multiple product ranges (most notably televisions), whereas Dell and HP share their involvement in the computers and printers categories. As we can see, the Hot Consumer Electronics List allows us to compare brand share amongst brands that would never normally be compared based on their niche product ranges, such as Blackberry, Dyson, TomTom and Nikon.

Another great use of the tool is to identify and gauge interest in new products, brands and fast-moving product areas. For example, we were able to track the increase in searches for netbooks in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and the continued interest in them as more models enter the market. The chart below, made up of portfolios of search terms for netbooks extracted from this consumer electronics search tool, allows us to see that not only is the Samsung NC10 clearly the most searched for netbook, but also that the new Archos 10 has shot from nowhere to be one of the most searched for netbooks, and the 6th most searched for computer overall.

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We have also been able to identify seasonal consumer behaviour. For example, there was a 31% increase in searches for garden products last week, with lawn mowers and especially the Bosch Rotak 34 the products of choice. There was also a 10% increase in searches for vacuum cleaners, lead by the Dyson DC25 as the Spring cleaning bug starts to hit.

The question is, are retailers and manufacturers already optimised for these products as we approach Easter? If you want to know more about the Hot Consumer Electronics List and see how it can help you, we’ve put together a short webinar describing how it works in more detail which you can watch here. If you have any further questions, please feel free to use the comments box below.

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