Clean Your House Before You Head To Social Media

Clean Your House Before You Head To Social Media

There are still companies who are tardy to the social media party. It’s not a bad thing. Businesses have either thought social media was going to exit as a one-hit wonder or they were laying-in-wait until it became absolutely apparent that they needed to jump in.

What fascinates me is that the companies who have an interest in building an online presence via social media – seem to forget that they have some internal work to do before hitting the very public social airwaves.

Getting on social media is the easy part.

You want to be on social? No problem, head to your platform of choice, create your free account and get posting. The problem for businesses is that they jump on this bandwagon of social expecting that doing so and directing their employees to talk them up on social media is the holy grail to their success. If you are doing this or plan to deploy your company’s brand to the digital and social airwaves – please stop!

You want to be a beloved brand on social media, but your employees really want you to treat them like human beings.

Clearly, there’s a disconnect here. While you are spending top dollar with a PR or Marketing firm to expand your reach to social media, have you forgotten your employees in the process? You just spent tens of thousands of dollars on hiring outside firms to make you look good, yet your employees haven’t seen a proper raise in years – priorities much?

Customers won’t buy from you just because you have a social presence and your employees will not say positive things about your company just because you demand they do so. While it may seem that social media is a good place to “keep up appearances”, it really isn’t. This doesn’t mean you need to be perfect, but rather that people expect a real depiction of how you operate, what it’s like to work with you etc.

If the morale within your company is suffering and you choose to overlook it and head to social media – you are setting yourself up for failure. Not only are you making it harder than it ought to be for employees to share their experiences, but you risk your employees airing out your dirty laundry on social.

A mini case-study…

I was on Instagram recently and I see one of my former employers’ promoting some sponsored posts. Somewhat intrigued, I click on one of their ads to see what they are promoting. After reading the caption, I move on to the comments just to see what people are saying. Throughout the comment section is comment after comment where employees are bashing and making fun of the company for stretching the truth about how they operate. Not only were there employees on this thread, but there were people who have applied to this organization and were treated indifferently.

For the next hour, I continued to click through their sponsored posts, finding only one that portrayed a positive image and lacked any apparent bashing. Unfortunately, for this company their intentions were undermined by their lack of attention and effort where both employees, candidates and customers were concerned.

Let’s examine where they went wrong and how you fix it:

1) The morale in this company is poor and they blatantly overlooked it. As I mentioned, I worked for this company once upon a time. The morale sucked then and as I hear it – it is worse now. There’s not enough PR in the world to fix the fundamental issue of employee’s loathing where they work or customers being disappointed with their experience with you. It’s not a travesty that you have been wrong in how you operated. However, it is a cardinal sin when you know you aren’t doing right by employees and customers and refuse to fix it. Check-in with your employees, triage the issues and take action to fix it prior to heading to social.

2) They are doing a lot of pushing and not enough listening internally or on social. If I am the one managing the social media for this company, I would have retreated by the third sponsored post where employees were lambasting me. This company continues to put out more and more ads with the same result. The question here isn’t who can I fire for making us look like jerks on social media, but rather are we listening to our own internal airwaves like we should be? Companies spend a ridiculous amount of time, money, and resources pushing out engagement, post-service, pulse surveys. All of this knowledge gathering that we do every year and yet we aren’t hearing our customers and employees like we should. Less push, more listening would have helped this brand in launching successfully into the digital sphere.

3) Employee Advocacy under duress never works. This company was actually an early-adopter of social media. They were one of the ones who had the budget to explore what digital branding could do for them before it became the hot topic that it is today. Long before we had experts and established standards for social media – it felt wrong to push employees to talk you up on social. I will never forget them talking to us about the magical number of times they wanted us not only to be engaging on social on their behalf; but also directing the message. Personally, I hated my job with them at the point that this was deployed. Having them tell me that I had to say “nice” things about my experience and the company on social was not only a lie – but made me feel sick to my stomach. Social sharing should be organic and not forced. Would you want to recommend a place where you had a bad experience? I’m guessing your answer is: “no”.  The same applies to your employees.

The purpose of having an online presence is to further your visibility and authentically connect with audiences and communities in a way you wouldn’t be able to ordinarily. Social is about reciprocity, transparency and being genuine. It is not only wise but recommended that you take the time to deal with any internal demons that may surface and undermine your efforts on social media. You may not be able to thwart every heckler or angry customer, but you will at least set a solid foundation for your brand to grow and thrive.

 

What You Need to Know About the Un-Political Worker

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

I have just recently gotten into House of Cards. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it as much as I do, but I am. As I have shared with my friends, it is filthy goodness. I’m on season 2 and if I’m honest – each new episode ignites a greater disdain within me for politics. You may be thinking it’s just a show- but I will wager that sometimes art imitates life.

Watching The Underwoods and all of the other gremlins in this fantasy world Washington D.C. has reminded me of my own run-ins with politics at work. Let me be abundantly clear, I hate politics with a passion. I’m a straight-shooter and I call things how I see them. I never understood why I needed to be “fake friends” or put on appearances with people to get something I needed to do my job.

“Be a little more flexible, Janine.” “Don’t get into any disagreements with hiring manager Joe, just do what they want.” “You need to increase the amount of accounts you lunch per week.” “Making this claim will not bode well for your career.” This is just a short-list of politically-motivated demands made to me over the course of my career.

Every time I was faced with a new demand, my message was the same. Don’t bring your politics around me. Now, I’m not insinuating that some situations don’t require more diplomacy and/or the ability to negotiate. However, I take issue when every decision, meeting, or new initiative feels like I need a war plan and armory to prevent my own demise.

The Un-Political Worker

I am flexible when the situation warrants it. I refuse to be fearful about what I can and cannot say when I am charged to work towards a solution with internal and external customers. It feels dirty to wine and dine people who you know are terrible for business; but you do it because their dollars and coins account for a substantial amount of business. Moreover, don’t threaten my career with a smirk and seemingly pleasant epithets that I have to decode later – only to find out you are out to get me.

Newsflash: most workers want to come to work and do what you ask of them. Here are some things you need to know about the un-political worker:

  • We care about the mission and vision. We don’t care about agendas. Your mission and vision help to provide clarity around the purpose of your staff’s work. It is your “why” and their “why”. It is a global narrative for why the business exists in the first place. Agendas are personal and based on self-interest. They aren’t usually clear, because they aren’t rooted in following procedure or moral steps.
  • Colleges and Universities don’t teach the art of manipulation. There’s no rule book in political environments. Actually, let me rephrase that. There are written rules to please the masses and then there are the unspoken rules that get made up as you go along. Your employees aren’t interested in having to be manipulative in every situation. In fact, many of them were never formally trained in this skill. Stop insisting that they add this to their professional repertoire.
  • Your employees don’t care about politics. You hired them to do a job and they can do it. Recognize that politics in the workplace is a system. It’s a system you created based on your agendas and what best serves the financial, professional and business interests of a certain group of people. Rarely, do the politics in the business serve all of your employees. I have never worked somewhere when I suddenly realized: “Wow, the politics in this organization have really boosted my career and put me at the top of my game.”

It is often said in House of Cards, that there are winners and losers in politics. That is certainly true. The thing is, I don’t want any casualties in my business. I want everyone who puts in the work and effort to win. I think most employees would prefer those cards over your messy politics.

Feeding the beast in 2016: It’s my turn to pivot

Feeding the beast in 2016

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a happy and safe holiday. I took some time off to breathe, recharge and position myself and business for the New Year. It was a reflective time where I was fortunate to catch up with family, friends and colleagues. In doing so, I gained a perspective on what I have done and what I am called to do through my business going forward.

I am happy to share that this month marks the 3rd anniversary for my company, Talent Think Innovations, LLC. Admittedly, I knew what I intended for this business when I started it in 2013, but had no idea where it would actually take me.

What do I mean by this?

I wrote an article in 2014 called: “Are You Ready to Pivot?”. The goal I had in mind for that article was to raise awareness around the need for HR and people in business to become adaptable and ready to make decisive changes when circumstances and/or market shifts call for it. Ironically, I look back at this article and recognize that 2016 has presented fertile ground for me to pivot. I spent much of my time off considering how I would continue propel my business to success and whether I am prepared to take yet another step outside of my comfort zone and let the world know.

After lots of wine, prayer and discussions with my circle of trust, I decided it is important to honor the work I do fully. Honoring my work means ensuring that people have a clear perspective on what I do and how I do it. Talent Think Innovations, LLC was founded as a HR Consulting Firm focused on helping small-to-midsize businesses establish sustainable talent management strategy. I made the decision to create the company focus around HR as a matter of comfort and passion. It was what I knew for over eight years and it just felt right.

Without boring you with all of the details, I find myself today having a much broader impact than HR strategy. I’m not abandoning HR, but I am giving my HR prowess some friends with which it was already comfortable. As such, Talent Think Innovations, LLC is now a multi-disciplinary business strategy and management consulting firm focusing on practical and sustainable strategies in the following areas:

  • HR/Talent Management Strategy
  • Executive and Leadership Coaching and Training
  • Career Coaching
  • Digital Marketing Coaching for SMBs
  • Technology Advisory Services and Strategy
  • Startup Mentorship & Advisement for Women
  • Brand Influencer Marketing

The funny thing about this re-branding of sorts is that this “pivot” has been evidenced in the clients I have been working with over the past three years. I just needed recognize and accept where this business journey was taking me.

What does this mean for “The Aristocracy of HR”?

You can still expect Workforce Strategy and HR talk to be the core of this blog. HR is still in my heart, but I will be opening up my topics as I have done in the past two years to cover entrepreneurship, digital marketing, data, technology and quite frankly anything else that tickles my fancy as I continue to grow and evolve.

What I really hope you all take from this is the following:

  • A friend/colleague recently told me, don’t wait too late to change the direction of your business. I took this to mean that you need to have faith in the signs along the journey and clear your space to do the work you are truly called to do.
  • Discomfort is really preparation for the next great thing coming your way. I have been in a state of discomfort since I started this business. I have had my share of struggles , but every consecutive year has brought more opportunity and blessings to my business than the last.
  • Every day things are changing and we need to remain adaptable and ready to move when life pleasantly and unpleasantly pushes us in a new direction.

I am so excited to share all of the new and fun things going on in my corner. As a reader of this blog, you will also be able to reap the rewards- as I work to provide the next level of value for this community. I hope you will join me on this journey and I thank you for your interest in my musings and readership.

Here’s to having a successful and sweet 2016! Time to feed the beast. Stay tuned!

 

Are We There Yet: The State of Digital Marketing and Data Adoption

Campaign/FTC disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I will receive compensation for this post. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products, events and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. Dun & Bradstreet hired me as a blogger to cover their Data- Inspired Digital Strategies Forum Event in New York on December 1st, 2015.  I am not formally employed by Dun & Bradstreet. All thoughts and viewpoints are created and written by me. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet.

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

It turns out the answer to the aforementioned question is a resounding “no”. There are a lot of ideas and theories about how businesses can effectively engage with their respective markets. Unfortunately, the limiting factor at the moment is not that we don’t have enough data or even opportunity to be actionable- but that we have too much data and very little adoption of using it for most purposes in business. This was just one of the many takeaways I gleaned from the panel discussions at last week’s Dun and Bradstreet’s Data-Inspired Digital Marketing Strategies Forum – which took place at the Sofitel Hotel in New York City on, December 1st.

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

The big question of the day was: How can we use data to better reach the right people at the right time?

Have you noticed that many of the ads that you view online now seem somewhat tailored to things you search or products, services and people you are interested in? What about the sudden shift in voice of several of the leading brands? The vintage use of catchy phrases, jingles and an impersonal tone is no longer the foundation of good marketing or good business. We’re in an age of rapid transformation on all fronts of business. Think about the last commercial or ad you viewed. Chances are the commercials or ads you viewed didn’t just cut-to-the-chase and urge you to purchase something. Of late, marketing is starting to sound and feel a little more personal. It is almost as if the company trying to get your attention had you in mind when they created said service, product etc. What is clear is that businesses must meet the customer where they are by making sure they are engaging with prospective customers with the right messaging or solution at the time when they are poised to make a purchasing decision. Anudit Vikram, SVP, Chief Product Officer-Audience Solutions for Dun & Bradstreet shared that: “Digital Marketing is about how many integrated touch points we can have with prospective customers across all channels.”

It turns out looking at “quantity” of touch points alone isn’t a comprehensive marketing approach either. Businesses have to also be mindful that the data they are harnessing is quality. Your insights and planning will only be as good as the data that has informed it. This is where many companies are missing the mark. It is key to take a step back and consider what the overall plan is. As I have mentioned in several articles this year, you cannot do the “data thing” just to do it. It was echoed in several of the talks that there needs to be clarity around the outcomes businesses are trying to achieve. It was also strongly suggested that businesses have a concrete plan for how they will harvest and synthesize the data that will facilitate digital marketing initiatives.

To ensure that you are on the right track to having good and clean data, do the following:

  • Start small by piloting your data collection on one initiative or program. This allows you to triage any issues and standardize your measurements before extending your methods to other areas of the business.
  • Be clear on what measures and methods you will use to measure outcomes. Data is only as good as its inputs.
  • Implement the right technology resources to facilitate the collection, evaluation and application of your data. Technology implemented correctly can be helpful in centralizing the collection and management of your data- decreasing the necessity of having to manipulate the data regularly due to errors.

It is clear that the way we conduct business and market our services has changed given the digital climate we are experiencing. What isn’t as clear is: How do we get people to consistently make use of the data that is available them?  Moreover, how do we get people to see that the use of data (be it in marketing or otherwise) as an opportunity and not as a threat?

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

Looking towards 2016 and evaluating the state of data adoption and data-driven marketing Josh Mueller, SVP of Digital Operations at Dun &Bradstreet stated: “2016 is an inflection point for digital marketing.” That is to say that we’re at a prime point on the trajectory and evolution of digital marketing where we are poised to “target, capture and convert” our most prized customers. It is time to decide whether your business can survive with or without the use of data insights. Better yet, can you afford to continue blindly marketing to your customer segment while settling for marginal responses and outcomes. Let 2016 be your “inflection point” and reflect on how you can start putting the data you have today to work in an effort to improve your business across-the-board.

 For further insights from the event, check out two of the speaker presentations below:

Theresa Kushner, VP of Enterprise Data Management- Data, Data Everywhere: Making the most of it in the 21st Century.

Josh Mueller, SVP of Digital Operations at Dun & Bradstreet and Anudit Vikram, SVP Chief Product Officer-Audience Solutions for Dun & Bradstreet- Data-Inspired Digital Marketing.

 

Beware the Myth of Hustling

Image courtesy of Flickr.

The holidays are upon us and as if most other times of year aren’t crazy enough- this time of the year is down right frenetic. It has been just around a month since I wrote something here. My absence wasn’t because I no longer care to write or that I am somehow lacking in ambition. Quite simply, I needed a break after an epic year of opportunity that left me exhausted. Actually, if I am honest with myself I experienced a bout of exhaustion- there I said it!

If you look around there are all sorts of cues around us urging us to keep going, work harder, and do more. What may be social cues for others is a daily log of messages in my head. It replays over and over again. There’s no question that success comes to those who work for it. Working hard and consistently is how you make your luck in life. The dilemma is: Sometimes over-achievement comes at a price and that price is very likely to be your health. All of this chatter about “hustling hard” is a myth. There is something called rest and your body needs it. There is something called “burnout” and that is also a very real thing.

The goal and sweet spot is to work smarter, not harder. That isn’t to say that when I need to get something done and it requires a late night that I won’t do it. I will do it and drink a half a pot of coffee doing it. What I am saying is we all need balance and/or a break. While it isn’t a perfect science for many of us day-to-day, it is certainly something we all should try to work towards on a regular basis.

This topic of “The Myth of Hustling” was so dear to me that I tackled it on a recent “Ask Czarina Live” episode. I urge you to watch the show below and share your stories and thoughts with me.

In just a few short days, I will be taking a more substantial break where I tune out a bit more to take in the holiday festivities and reflect on my year. It will also provide quiet, creative space for me to churn out some items that are sure to please when I return with a vengeance in 2016. This will mark another time where “The Aristocracy of HR” goes quiet for a bit. I wasn’t sure if I was fine with taking this break, but I have decided that it is fine and it is necessary. I will touch base here twice more before it goes quiet for about two weeks or so ( still deciding how much time I want to take).  I will be back before you know it filling your brains with all things, tech, data, world of work, entrepreneurship and of course my newest baby “Ask Czarina Live”.

Stay tuned for this week’s Ask Czarina Live” post and show. It all happens on Thursday at 11pm EST on Periscope. You can catch all of the replays at Katch.me/CzarinaofHR and “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel.

Press Play!

 

 

Ask Czarina Live: The Rise of the Black Female Entrepreneur

Ask Czarina Live Intro Screen (1)

 

A few month’s ago, I was searching for articles on female entrepreneurship. I needed statistics and facts around this topic. I was beyond pleasantly surprised to find this Entrepreneur article called: The fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America. This article not only summarized the state of entrepreneurship for females, but it highlighted a statistic- even I was not aware of. The statistic was: The number of African-American owned businesses grew 322% since 1997. So, while entrepreneurship by females in general grew 74% from 1997 to 2015, black women blew that statistic away.

Image of Biddy Mason Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

I believe there are many reasons for this rapid increase in female entrepreneurs and even more so for black women taking this leap.

In this episode I will share the following:

  • What I believe is contributing to the rise in females becoming entrepreneurs in general.
  • What factors may be contributing to the rise of the businesses owned by African-American Women?
  • What does this mean for the future of work?
  • Great statistics, but is there room for improvement?

If Entrepreneur can put this topic on blast, so can I. We are going to explore all sides of female entrepreneurship this week.

To get your palate wet for this week’s discussion, check out these articles for more insights:

Who Runs the Business World? Women!

Turning Corporate Lemons Into Entrepreneurial Lemonade

From HR to Entrepreneurship: Honor the Journey

Businesswoman Janine Truitt Talks About the Lessons of Entrepreneurial Dreams

 I’m calling out all mompreneurs, womeneurs, solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, boss ladies, and even aspiring female entrepreneurs to join me on Thursday at 11pm EST/10pm CST/8pm PST for “Ask Czarina Live”.

Good News!  I promised you that I would be posting the replays of “Ask Czarina Live” to “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel for those of you not ready to take the Periscope plunge. Fortunately, I have been enlightened that an app named Katch.me exists. Katch.me saves all of my Periscope episodes so I can share and download my episodes. If you’re on Katch, you can check out “Ask Czarina” replays there. Otherwise, I am happy to announce that my replay from last week is up on “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel.

As usual it will be fun, fresh, and insightful. I look forward to seeing you there.

Want more? Click here to watch the latest “Ask Czarina” episode. Subscribe to “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel to be notified when new episodes are published.

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