How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Twitter_logo_headerQuickly: The only way CEOs can understand social technologies is by using them.

Content: I've got bad news for you. You can't understand Twitter, Facebook, or blogging by reading an article in a magazine or a report from your CMO. Sure, they can tell you what they are, but you won't be able to truly understand how they could change your business unless you actually use them.

Social is like sex. It's fun to talk about and read about, but you can't truly comprehend unless you do it.

Here's a story. Forrester's COO, Charles Rutstein, and I made fun of Twitter when it came out. Twitter is the technology that enables you to send short messages (of approximately 25 words) to people who elect to monitor you on their PCs or cell phones. We instantly pronounced the whole concept to be brain dead. A few months later Forrester bought Jupiter Research. Charles said to me, shortly after we bought the company, "Hey, those analysts at Jupiter like being part of Forrester." I said, "How do you know?" He said that he was watching their Twitter streams and the feedback was positive. I signed up for Twitter the next day.

The CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, uses social extensively and now has 300 customer service reps at the company on Twitter. Why? As Tony says..."People don't relate to companies, they relate to people." This is important insight. You, the 57 year old CEO may not use social, but that doesn't mean that your customers don't use social. You are not your customer.

Yes, much of the social technology is a titanic time waster. And yes, much of the technology is crap. But there may be real value here for your company -- something that you can't grasp unless you engage with social.

I'll have future posts on how the CEO can get on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks to learn the most in the shortest amount of time. If you like books, Forrester has a good one out on the topic -- go here to buy, and go here to see Forrester's latest thinking regarding social. A little techie, but full of good stories about how real companies have used social to their advantage.

Comments

Social media is one of the

Social media is one of the key factors in the modern world for people to connect to various people across the globe.

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

You've already figured out one powerful technique, George. I came here because you tweeted the link. Good to see Forrester's CEO showing the way.As for the sex metaphor, I'm reminded of Elvis Costello in "Mystery Dance" - "You can see those pictures in any magazine, but what's the use of looking if you don't know what they mean?"

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

One quick way to get it? Visit http://search.twitter.com/ and search for your own brand.

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Good point. The only thing I would add is to use it for a minimum of 30 days, and try to reach out and interact with some folks who you would never,ever ususally talk with....it is only then that you can 'get it."

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Excellent post,crisp and clear. Many people told me why so many people don't get it[social media], my response always was you cannot see value unless you use it so don't force anybody, let them discover.

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Like the previous comment, I, too, read the blog based on the Forrester tweet. I also agree that the best way to learn how social media works is to dive right in and get wet. It's a bit intimidating at first--especially for baby boomers like me--but its well worth the experience and the fun.

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Getting into social media and trying it really is the best way to grasp it. I regularly have clients tell me that twitter, or name some other social media here, is not for them, their customers, or their company. When I hear this I ask if they have hands-on experience or if they have a plan on how it is going to integrate with their marketing. The response is always, no. You have to understand and test it before rejecting it.

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

GeorgeGood post. One of the best Tweeters I know is Padmasree Warrior (@Padmasree), Cisco's CTO. She has over 370K follower (I am probably light as it grows quickly), which is, approximately, 20X Mark Cuban :->Also, CXOs care about returns. I received a lot of feedback on my Collaboration Stimulus Plan blogs:http://blogs.cisco.com/news/comments/the_100_billion_collaboration_stimulus_plan_of_2009_part_1/http://blogs.cisco.com/news/comments/the_100_billion_collaboration_stimulus_plan_of_2009_-_part_2/Alan

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

It's a bit like learning to dance, isn't it?

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

George,Great post. I fully agree that the only way to find out if "social" can be a meaningful route for you and/or your company is to engage! Thanks for helping to lead the way for those at the top of organizations doing just that. Keep up the great work. :)

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

I totally agree on the executives need to be involved to understand. That applies to everything. It is important for any executive to be out there and better in person than on Twitter. Twitter maybe a passing phenomenon such as Second Life. Social networks such as LinkedIN are fantastic tools. But there is a lot more in terms of understanding the needs for the same human interaction within a business. And that is sofar being missed. Enterprise 2.0 is not just Web 2.0 behind the firewall. E20 has to be architectured and secure and still social. For me it has to be part of a powerful, architectured collaboration platform that drives corporate processes. Analysed and planned processes such as proposed by SOA-BPM are dead because nowhere near agile. Twitter is not enough in terms of auditability ... so you need the best of both worlds.

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

George, thanks for voicing a profound point. At the risk of sounding simplistic, Web 2.0 and social networks are disruptive, so they force CEOs and CMOs to unlearn selectively, to question sacred cows:-Talk to and convince the customer-Own the brand-Take care of employees-Exploit resources-Create efficiency through control-Zero sumExecutives set the tone for their organizations, so it's critical that they get some organic experience. Social networks are not about new technology, they refine relationships and how people live--and make buying decisions.We used to be limited to the people with whom we were co-located geographically. Now interest is the tie, which will accelerate knowledge growth geometrically because people with highly specific interests ("geeks" for transfer pricing, Brazilian patent leather, Tanzanian carpets, Bohemian crystal) to find each other and accelerate each other's knowledge and collaboration.Because industries controlled the means of production, they made, and people bought. Now it's collaborative. Who produces now? Distributes? Value chains are exploding, and it's only starting. Chances are it's people like all of us, creating playlists, contributing reviews, tweeting book reviews. The production is a commodity, it's distribution and sharing that will increasingly drive sales. Facebook's approach to globalizing is genius.Enterprises are not collaborative, but they have to get there fast to maintain or increase relevance. They have a producer mindset.My Executive's Guide series is founded on a similar premise to yours: that executives need to learn enough to appreciate and be informed adopters of these new approaches to business process. Collaborativeness will be the make/break characteristic for relevance and profitability for many businesses. People think it's a "technology" but that's a red herring; it's a whole new way of being. We will laugh at "business/IT alignment" because we will see it pale beside "customer/company" misalignment."Thanks again for emphasizing a crucial point!

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Great post.Social tools are great. E2.0 is also great.But if you see, most people who need to read this are not reading owing to them being un-"social". All the comments and the readers come either through twitter, yammer or similar tools, but what is the way to get the "target audience" to read this and then dive in?How are we going to drive home the point that social tools are really necessary in this fast changing world? If I am talking about using inside an Enterprise, security, productivity loss, bandwidth loss are the biggest concerns.

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Excellent post. I would add that you can't learn social media from an agency that doesn't have the street cred of already being part of the community and having a track record.

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Twitter can help you solve problems.Here is a small story:http://www.nearsoft.com/blog/Twitter-and-Yammer-at-Work.html

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Great article!Much to learn from.

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Hey George,You said it all when you said most of it is time-wasting...and, well, you elaborated quite crisply...no need to repeat.Here is my somewhat grumpy post about the arrival and departure of Twitterers -- building on a CG Lynch cio.com column, adding my own advice as to why there is such a high percentage (60% of Twitter users quit after 30 days -- according to a Nielson survey) of 'Twitter Quitters'.http://www.ageinplacetech.com/content/twitter-arrival-and-departure-twitterers-twitter-quittersToday I 'un-followed' numerous power tweeters who blast out multiple tweets per hour or half day (I think of it as bulk tweeting).In turn, I am sure they are using 'Qwitter' to find out that I gave up on their tsunami tweeting. For those who wonder about Qwitter:http://technofriends.in/2008/10/24/how-to-know-when-someone-unfollows-you-on-twitter/For the paranoid and for PR folks, Tweetbeep will send you an e-mail whenever your name is mentioned.http://tweetbeep.com/Add that to Twitter's own alerts about follows, it's all sort of like monitoring a train station:now arriving, now departing, and now whispering behind your back.

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

If you are a CEO you need to on twitter?Why?Not for communication purposes but to listen!!

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Your right about the time waster, however outsourcing or having software throw updates and generate friends is the way to go b/c you never know when people are just tweeting or reading the tweets?. . . so many people to follow and read makes it saturated, therefore takes up time. . . what's nice is facebook and twitter work together on their feeds!

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

George,Your post reminded me of some of my observations about social media in general, which I thought I'd share.When I first started using Twitter, I was not entirely sure of its utility. However, I've been actively blogging since 2003, and using other social media technologies for longer. From that time I've come to understand that a new social media technology has a utility that you don't always fully understand yet, you have to spend some time on learning the technology to find that utility.I really understood the particular advantages of Twitter once I attended a conference, and was able to connect with people in the conference room more quickly than I'd been able to do so previously with writing a live conference blog post.While participation is important when adopting a new social media technology, I think a good observer can learn about how social media works by asking questions. I did this in my early days of blogging, when I talked to a lot of companies about their use of blogs for marketing, product management and customer service. Many of the corporate social media engagers told me their success in social media came from active monitoring and engagement.At first glance, social media appears to be all about content. It is, but a different type of writing traditional marketers have experienced when writing a thought leadership piece for a column. Social media writing is the opportunity to engage with other people. If you blog, tweet or reside in a social media community, writing content is not just about being a columnist or host, rather you have to be an active engager. If you don't actively engage your community you will not truly be able to gain the opportunity that comes from speaking with, and learning from the community. If there's no give and take, there's no relationship building, and you’re not getting the maximum utility out of the social media technology.To engage a community requires time; time to observe, filter and engage.I'm wondering why you and Charles made fun of Twitter when it first came out?I recall that not so long ago, many business people made fun of Twitter, and when they did, I had to think about Twitter's utility; I thought, surely so many people criticizing the technology had to be right? However, I remembered in the early days of my adoption with many other social technologies I had to go through a learning curve, and in the end the fundamental of engagement was the opportunity. I just had to determine, either through observation or participation what the social interaction design for engagement was from Twitter. I did.Now the tide has turned for Twitter, and the naysayers are becoming active enthusiasts.The story of Twitter growth becomes to me yet another classic example of the Technology Life cycle model, where the authors Bohlen, Beal & Rogers developed a model for hybrid seed corn adoption by farmers.* Innovators - had larger farms, were more educated, more prosperous and more risk-oriented* Early adopters - younger, more educated, tended to be community leaders* Early majority - more conservative but open to new ideas, active in community and influence to neighbors* Late majority - older, less educated, fairly conservative and less socially active* Laggards - very conservative, had small farms and capital, oldest and least educatedI'd put myself in the early adopter category. I don't think I was an innovator with Twitter. Where would you put yourself?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_adoption_lifecycle

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

Thanks for the information and for the tips which help me,your writing style is great,really social is like sex and your story is so interesting,This magic words really works for the new comers,keep up writing

re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

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re: How can CEOs understand social technologies?

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