Tag Archives: #social media monitoring

Do Most CEOs Lack Social Skills?

Do CEOs need charm school, rather than business school?

According to a new study sponsored by Domo and CEO.com, CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are participating in social media channels significantly less than the general public. The study claims that 70% of them have absolutely no presence on social media.

On the major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+, the participation of Fortune 500 CEOs was minimal, with only 7.6% on Facebook, 4% on Twitter, and less than 1% on Google+. In comparison, more than 50% of the U.S. population uses Facebook and 34% uses Twitter.   No Fortune 500 CEOs are on Pinterest.

LinkedIn is the most popular social media site among Fortune 500 CEOs, with 26% on the network, compared to just 20.15% of the U.S. general public. Of that group, ten Fortune 500 CEOs have more than 500 LinkedIn connections, while 36 CEOs have 1 LinkedIn connection or none.

Six Fortune 500 CEOs (or more likely, their PR departments) contribute to blogs, and only one of the six CEOs, John Mackey of Whole Foods, maintains his own blog.

Given the demographics of Fortune 500 CEOs, none of this news is jaw-dropping. Older, well-established corporate guys (and gals) in the business world’s stratosphere are not wired for social media.

But here are some potential take-aways from the research:

  • The propensity of C-level executives at companies of all sizes – well below the Fortune 1000 level – to invest time on social media outlets is extremely low. Top decision-makers spend most of their day dealing directly with people within their own sphere of influence. And most C-level execs still are not convinced that social media is anything more than a technology hula-hoop that will eventually run out of steam.
  • Marketers attempting to reach and influence C-level decision-makers are still best-served by leveraging the channels that are used and respected by that target audience…including traditional business media sources and professional forums; and by seeking to influence the 2nd and 3rd tier corporate executives who provide insight and guidance for  C-level decision-makers…which may involve selective use of social media tools.
  • Aspiring CEOs may still be more likely to reach the top of the corporate ladder by joining the right country club, rather than by having 500 connections on LinkedIn.

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Glassdoor.com: Social Media Tool or PR Nightmare?

Learning to Live With Employee Opinion

Since its founding in 2007, Glassdoor.com has become an important research tool for job hunters, corporate recruiters, and anyone looking for unvarnished behind-the-scenes insight into what really goes on behind corporate doors. Although Vault.com – established more than a decade earlier – serves much the same purpose, Glassdoor.com represents a far greater online brand risk…largely because the website provides free access to remarks posted by real, bogus and often disgruntled employees, and because those negative postings are often found on Google page one searches involving the company under fire.  For many of the 250,000 companies it currently covers, Glassdoor.com can be a PR nightmare waiting to happen.

Websites dedicated to employee dissatisfaction were social media pioneers; empowering workers to publicly call their manager a “5-Alarm Nut Job” without retribution, to gripe about low pay or a lousy lunchroom, and to warn others to look elsewhere for a job.  The most notorious of these early sites included RateMyEmployer.com (currently on life support),  F**kedCompany.com (which died in 2007) and JobVent.com, which was acquired by Glassdoor.com in 2009. The demise of this scruffy first generation of workplace gripe sites gave way to an even more powerful and credible second generation of professionally managed, sophisticated sites like Glassdoor.com, backed by private equity investment, and fueled by business models that ensure their long-term existence.

Here’s a survival guide for companies seeking to avoid, minimize or benefit from brand exposure that’s delivered on Glassdoor.com:

Address Root Causes – Companies that focus on employee satisfaction and provide internal channels for rank & file feedback have far fewer negative postings on Glassdoor.com. Effective workforce management, however, does not ensure a positive outcome on the site. For example, Texas-based Beryl Health (formerly Beryl Companies) is well-known for its employee-focused culture, and was a “Best Place to Work in Healthcare” according to Modern Healthcare magazine. Beryl’s former CEO Paul Spiegelman even wrote a popular book about the importance of employee motivation. But Beryl’s current Glassdoor.com rating is 2.5 (unsatisfactory) on a 5-scale, based on a few negative postings (of seven reviews in total) from its employees.

Work The System – To their credit, Glassdoor.com does have a protocol for screening out employee rants that violate their standards of legality and good taste. They also have a viable internal system for moderating comments that are flagged by another party as “Inappropriate.” As a last resort, if a posting is believed to be bogus, particularly harmful or libelous, a company can appeal directly to Glassdoor.com’s corporate General Counsel. There’s no need to be victimized. Companies should monitor employee comments on Glassdoor.com, and respond directly and aggressively when appropriate.

Purchase a Profile – For a fairly reasonable price, Glassdoor.com will provide an “Enhanced Employer Profile,” featuring a comprehensive description of your company. I don’t work for Glassdoor.com in any capacity, or receive compensation for promoting its products, but it’s a no-brainer to take advantage of an opportunity to provide credible, positive content that can offset misinformation, warts and shortcomings that others are sharing online.

Lobby for Support – It’s no secret that many companies “encourage” their happy employees to post positive comments on Glassdoor.com as a means to bolster their overall Company Rating. Unfortunately, some companies assign this role to their PR department, whose staff members pose as anonymous employees, pumping out false praise and motivating detractors to post additional rants. In some cases, it may be beneficial to lobby for employee support on Glassdoor.com by asking them to express their satisfaction with the company. However, this solicitation must be carefully planned and expressed in a genuine manner, or the potential for this effort to backfire, internally and online, is fairly high.

Embrace Criticism – When online detractors echo similar complaints, it usually means there’s some underlying truth to what they’re griping about. It also means that Glassdoor.com visitors will begin to believe them.  Although it’s contrary to corporate instincts, the quickest way for a company to stop online rants is to fix the related problems, or to explain to employees why it won’t or can’t. Allowing Glassdoor.com to serve as a canary in the coal mine can avoid problems that may be more significant than brand reputation.

Glassdoor.com is an online reality that requires pro-active and consistent oversight by fiduciaries of the corporate brand.  Understanding how to peacefully coexist and leverage this influential social media tool enables companies to minimize negative brand impressions, drive recruitment and demonstrate their institutional backbone to current employees.

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Fighting Online Brand Sabotage 101

Brand Sabotage May Warrant Ninja Tactics

Complaint websites such as Yelp, Glassdoor and Ripoff Report – that empower actual and imaginary customers or employees to anonymously post their accurate or bogus comments online – have created new brand-related challenges and opportunities for their corporate targets.

Thanks to search engines and social media, anyone with a computer and a personal agenda can now inflict substantial, long-term damage to the reputations of institutions that may or may not be deserving of their viral sabotage. It’s become a dangerous and foreign world for CMOs, PR heads and others charged with protection of their company’s brand; especially for small and mid-sized companies lacking the sophistication or deep pockets to mount a serious defensive strategy.

At the risk of oversimplification, here are a few down & dirty street-fighter tactics that should be on the do-it-yourself checklist of every company that’s a real or potential target of brand saboteurs:

Keep Your Eyes Open – This advice appears rudimentary, but many companies don’t bother to stay on top of online content.  At the very least, all companies should use Google Alerts to keep track of what’s being said about them online. This service is free, but does not provide a comprehensive view of everything that’s being said. There are scores of sophisticated social media monitoring solutions, tailored to meet your budget and level of interest. Here’s a list of them.

Take the High Road First – If your company has made mistakes or fallen short of expectations, it’s best to man up quickly. If there’s a way to respond directly to a negative post, then admit your error, offer to make amends, and follow through on any promises you make. Negative posts are opportunities to showcase your company’s integrity and to build goodwill.

However…if it becomes clear that an employee, customer or competitor is using social media primarily to inflict brand damage, it’s appropriate to protect your company in a far more aggressive manner. The basic ninja tactics and rules involve:

Hit and Run – At the risk of being labeled a “troll” by the strange subculture of people whose hobbies include trashing companies online, it’s worth the effort for your company to fight fire with fire, by anonymously posting contrary opinion and evidence, on a selective basis, to discredit the brand saboteurs. If your defensive post is well-crafted (which means it’s not totally obvious that it was written by someone from your company), readers will conclude that the saboteur may not be correct, or at least that there is a difference of opinion.

Avoid Fistfights – If you employ anonymous hit and run tactics, never go toe-to-toe online with saboteurs by responding to their follow-up posts (where they will accuse you of being a shill for the company.) If you engage with them, your original post will lose its credibility, you’ll give them additional opportunities to trash your brand, and it will attract additional attention. If you can’t maintain your discipline, then don’t use hit and run tactics.

Call In The Cavalry – The odds are, if you’re running a successful business, that you have plenty of satisfied employees and customers. The problem is that brand terrorists are always more motivated to trash your brand than your brand ambassadors are likely to praise it. The solution is simple: swallow your pride, and ask for help from your fan base. Don’t tell them what to say, but do provide them with the specific information (or send a page link) they will need to post their positive opinions where it will have the greatest impact. Solicit at least one positive post every month, and don’t forget to thank those who take the time to help you.

Become Transparent – In a world driven by search engines, no news is longer good news; in fact, no news is a brand liability when you are the target of a brand saboteur. The most effective way to reduce and offset brand sabotage is to consistently generate online content that positions your company in a positive manner. This does not simply mean pumping out a press release every time your company introduces a product, wins an industry award, or appoints a new vice president. The content with the greatest value – both in terms of viral shelf life and marketing impact – provides insight into your firm’s intellectual capital…so that target audiences have a clear understanding of your company’s value proposition.

Pull Out the Legal Saber – If the damage caused by brand saboteurs is substantial and consistent, your company should consider legal means as a last resort. This can be expensive, but some companies have succeeded in neutering false and defamatory posts by first filing a lawsuit against the author of the post (not against the website or search engine); if successful in that suit, obtaining a court order related to the offending post; then presenting that court order to Google…which typically will honor the court order by removing the webpage with the offending post from its search index. Although this legal tactic will not remove the post from Ripoff Report, Yelp or Glassdoor, the post will no longer appear in Google search results, which is a significant damage control victory.

Many companies will continue to do little or nothing to prepare for online brand sabotage, on the assumption that it’s unlikely to ever happen to them. Like the classic Fram Oil Filter commercial, they can pay a little now, or pay a much bigger price later.  But there’s a growing list of CEOs who regret having rolled the dice with their company’s reputation at stake.

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