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Social Change Agents - A Career Study


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What does it take to be a change agent? This study focused on the skill sets required to effect change in large organizations. It also measured individual career performance and options for career growth in this role.

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Social Change Agents - A Career Study

  1. 1. Social Change Agents – a Career Study August 2014
  2. 2. Study Synopsis Social Media Today conducted an industry study to identify the career implications for high profile "Social Change Agents." Whether working externally as the face and voice for a large corporate brand, or as an internal catalyst and advocate for enterprise-wide social collaboration, the study examined how this new, highly visible professional role is impacting long-term career opportunities. The study focused on the impact a skill set that includes collaborative and network technologies, storytelling, crowd-sourcing across geographies and companies, as well as personal values placed on transparency and authenticity, is having on individual career performance and options. The on-line web survey ran from July 17 to July 28, 2014. In addition, qualitative interviews were conducted with four key individuals who self- identify as social change agents.
  3. 3. Key Findings • The majority of survey respondents are passionate about the values of Social. It’s not just a job for many. Many survey respondents shared their personal stories on how they took career risks to stand up for their convictions. • By an overwhelming majority, survey respondents see the social career occupation as positive, leading to greater visibility and opportunities internally and externally. • Those who indicated that they saw themselves as Change Agents were more likely to be the face of their brand, found Social to be a career boosting asset, and reported they are part of a team dedicated to social initiatives.
  4. 4. Who responded - #s • 410 respondents answered the survey • 63 were disqualified* • 245 answered every question • 102 responded partially, but didn’t finish the survey * Agency personnel, Vendors, and Industry/Financial analysts were disqualified
  5. 5. Who responded - by Gender Demographics
  6. 6. Who responded - by Income Demographics
  7. 7. Who responded - by Income and Gender Demographics
  8. 8. Who responded - by Age Demographics
  9. 9. Who responded - Company Size Employees Revenue Demographics
  10. 10. Demographic Insights • Female: More likely to work for an agency working in Advertising or Arts & Entertainment • Male: More likely to be involved in Banking, Finance, and Technology (may account for pay discrepancies) • Women were twice as likely to have “Social Media” in their title than their male counterparts. This could indicate that women are more likely to be considered as “social media” marketers versus marketers in general. Women were also five times LESS likely to be considered an “analyst.”* Demographics • Age: • $100k+ range dominated by 30+ respondents • 21-29 most likely to have “social media” in their titles • 30+ more likely to have Manager, Director, or C-Level title • 65+ More likely to be a consultant *Marketing Analyst or Data Analyst, not Industry or Financial Analyst which were disqualified.
  11. 11. Bryce Williams - Pharma @TheBrycesWrite Photo: Stephen Brashear “Timing was everything. I had gotten to a point I was an IT guy for ten years. I wanted to do something bigger. Had visions I wanted to help the broader audience across the company. I wanted to go from being a guy who does it to being a guy who teaches others how to do it themselves. We had a vision Jam. One of the themes emerged that people wanted an online interactive community all the time vs. just that 2-week window. I wanted to be a key champion to make that real. They created a role, and I went after it. Even though a lot of people at the time, my bosses even, said, ‘You shouldn’t do this. It’s a bad career move. This is a fad. You’re going to be redeployed into something you don’t like.’ But, I took the risk and went ahead, and took it against a lot of people’s advice. It felt like stepping out on a ledge, but it felt right at the same time. On the positive side, it’s all about the relationship. I talk to so many people on a daily basis. I walk around the halls here and I go to lunch, and there may be names I don’t know, but I recognize faces. I get personal reward every day from things that I have no involvement in by watching these things go by online, and that we’re helping facilitate these connections and people getting answers. The positive is definitely being able to see the return and feeling it in terms of the networks I’ve built and the people I know.” Work Experience
  12. 12. Years Experience Work Experience Majority (75%) of respondents have been working in a social occupation for more than two years. And nearly a third (27%) have been working in social for over five years.
  13. 13. Brand Identity Work Experience Nearly half (43%) of the respondents function as the public face of the brand they represent. Do you function as the public face of your brand?
  14. 14. Personal Identity Work Experience Larger percentage than we predicted (16%) have melded their personal brand identity with their corporate brand identity. Are you known personally as the voice of your brand? (e.g., Scott Monty for Ford)
  15. 15. Inspiration Work Experience Contrary to popular opinion, most respondents got into the role because of its attractiveness as a new field, as well as the opportunity to align personal values and make a difference. NOT to become “web celebs.” What drew you originally to a social occupation? Key:
  16. 16. Richard Binhammer - Tech @RBinhammer Photo: Adelina Wong “I was an old time PR and Public affairs guy. I media trained executives and ran Michael Dell events. When I got this assignment, I had to look up in Wikipedia what a blog was. It was baptism by fire with the whole Dell Hell thing. Dell was symbolic of every corporation who was a bad boy on the web. Dell was the cause celeb for any F500 company. Communications teams are one of the last bastions of the old command and control systems. Comms teams think they’re social because they put a YouTube video up and tweet the latest news release. My view is Social upends the communications process. You can actually start with what people are saying about you on the web, and instead of deciding what our messages are based on what the CEO and Marketing want, you can actually listen to what people on the web are saying, learn what people are talking about and what resonates with them. Second, you can learn who those people are. As far as taking a career risk… I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did.” Values
  17. 17. Social Values - Peers Values Overwhelming majority (71%) of respondents reported they definitely had been in a situation or situations where they had to defend the values of social with colleagues. Have you ever had to defend the values of social with a peer colleague?
  18. 18. Social Values - Superiors Values Similarly, a large percentage (62%) reported they had to defend the values of social to a superior. The verbatims where respondents described the incidents are classic. Have you ever had to defend the values of social with someone in the organization at a higher rank than you?
  19. 19. Social Values - Conviction Values The respondents who said “Yes” surprised us – 20%! Again, look at the verbatims to better understand these responses. Has there ever been a time that you felt you’d be willing to lose your job rather than compromise your convictions about social?
  20. 20. John Stepper – Banking @johnstepper Photo: Adelina WongPhoto: Stephen Brashear “There is no natural home for what we do. Everyone’s case is kind of different. For me, I was either going to do something else at the company or I was going to work somewhere else. That’s what led me to pitch a bigger idea, a more ambitious plan to introduce the social network, and go all in for that. And if it didn’t work, they’d get rid of me. That’s meant a tenuous couple of years. I’d ask myself, “Will they get rid of me this year?” What we’ve managed to do, is take gradual steps that would have blown our minds years ago. But, step by step… we have more and more interesting use cases. With organic growth, next thing you know, there are 50K people in the community. What it opens up internally is a set of jobs that don’t exist yet. Because you are so visible, you rally a bunch of people. And there is a strength in that. The more you make it about benefits for individuals and for the firm - and less about you or the technology or being social - the more likely your ideas will spread and you'll make the difference you aspire to make. Creating a positive, constructive culture is key to success.” Visibility
  21. 21. Visibility - Internally Visibility Interesting, although many respondents reported they were not drawn to social for personal visibility, most (71%) reported increased visibility as a byproduct of the job. How has your position as a social champion impacted your general visibility in your organization? Key:
  22. 22. Visibility - Externally Visibility Regardless of where the individual fit in the organizational hierarchy, the majority (65%) of respondents reported being a social champion had a positive impact on their career visibility. How has your position as a social champion impacted your public visibility? Key:
  23. 23. Visibility - Communications Visibility As a primary channel for communications, social opens up several opportunities to “boundary span.” This is true especially within the organization where a majority (76%) reported their position gave access to new areas within the company. Has your position afforded you the opportunity to do any of the following? Key:
  24. 24. Jeremiah Owyang - Tech “There was a lot of rhetoric and discussion about how this would disrupt PR and customer care. At the time I was a full- time employee at Hitachi Data Systems, a hundred-year-old company with over 300K employees, a massive conglomerate. I helped to craft a business case, I brought in speakers like Shel Israel, I bought books… I even remember printing out the thesis from the Cluetrain Manifesto and dropping it on the marketing manager’s desk [anonymously]. I helped to educate executives, and was fortunate to get executive support to bless it. Many colleagues thought it was a fad, it wasn’t real or didn’t matter. They were so focused on analyst relations, press/media relations, advertising, white papers, email marketing, but I said, ‘This is two-way; it’s gonna come!’ So I had to do an incredible amount of evangelism, and I did receive some pushback. Corp. Comms was uncomfortable giving up control in a classic sense, but in the end they came around and took part in it. But it was certainly change agency. They could see and feel control shifting and comments opened up and actual customers could talk back to executives.” 2006, STIRR tech mixerPhoto: Brian Solis @jowyang Career
  25. 25. Career Impact - Future Career Overwhelming majority report either they feel social has increased their job security, or their role in social has set them up well for future work inside and outside the company. Does having a profile as a social thought leader make you feel more or less secure about your career prospects? Key:
  26. 26. Career Impact - Internally Career Understandably, most report a positive impact. Those few who reported a negative impact point to the newness of the position impacting predictable career paths. How do you feel making the choice to focus on Social has impacted your career trajectory at your company? Key:
  27. 27. Career Impact - Access Career How often do you interface with executive management in your company? Do you feel your position in Social has provided you with greater access to senior leadership? Across the board, most respondents report easy and regular access to Sr. Mgmt.
  28. 28. Career Impact - Mobility Career Overwhelming majority (74%) believe social has increased their personal career mobility. Most who responded, “Can’t say…” either it was their first job (ever) or their first position in social and career mobility was yet to be determined. How do you feel the skills you’ve learned as a social professional have impacted your career mobility? Key:
  29. 29. Career Impact - Commitment Career The values of social are important to social professionals in a deeply personal way. Over half (57%) of respondents self- identify as Social Change Agents. Please select which of these sentences describes you best. Key:
  30. 30. Appendix • Additional data included for large companies over $100M in revenue • Select verbatims
  31. 31. Large Company Insights >$100M • 6.6% of Respondents stated that working in Social has limited their career trajectory/mobility because there is not a career path at their company in social. • 39.3% stated it made a neutral impact. • 59% stated it had a positive impact. • 19.7% stated that social has NOT given them greater access to higher ups (these individuals were more likely to state that there was no real career path in social at their company and/or that social isn’t valued). • 21.3% can’t say whether they have more access to upper management (more likely to state that social was now a necessary component of the job, and that as “social becomes more important” they believe they will be valued more). • 63.9% stated that they DO have greater access because of social (more likely to state that learning new skills invigorates them, that learning new skills always increases your value, and that opportunities outside of their company are good, too).
  32. 32. Large Company Insights >$100M Salary distribution by gender
  33. 33. Verbatims “Several partners in the organisation have refused to accept that social technologies are not a fad, rather that it is important that both organisations and individuals need to learn about them, to learn about the social landscape and opportunities which are presented to all. It took two years of solidly having one on one conversations with each to get to a point where they acknowledged they were ready to consider the viability of utilising social technologies both within the business and external to the business. My adoption of social technologies for use within the business has been done by stealth and informally. In 2013 we reached a point where it was agreed that the senior partners would participate in educational programmes to learn more about the opportunities and risks of not engaging with social. Hence a formal programme has begun and traction among a small percentage has been obtained, the others are coming along slowly. We're currently prevailing.” “I continually have to inform members of my organization, peer agencies, and business leaders I meet of the value and credibility of Social Media in both business and public health. My track record for success is roughly 50/50. I have given presentations to local business leaders on how SM can impact their bottom line ($), and that seems to generate most interest. However, convincing others in my own agency, even our PIO, of the importance of creating a community of like- minded individuals through this medium took facts, figures, a power point and impassioned articulation. She's now on board, as is our Director. However, I continue to attempt to pursued peers within the agency to join, follow, tweet, and like. It is daunting.”
  34. 34. Verbatims “Yes. While working for a consulting firm, the client asked for help with a "social media problem" that was plaguing them. We had to convince the consultant AND the brand that the problem was actually a PRODUCT problem (carcinogenic substance in a product; consumers were not happy), and that once they fixed the PRODUCT problem, then we could fix the social media problem (and PR/media/investor problem).” “Senior staff thought it was a waste of time, but with the right objectives and strategies in place I proved them wrong. I had to educate them about social and explained the full benefits through real campaigns.” “The CEO of a company I worked for wanted me to post under the guise of a consumer in order to help promote a product and provide positive reviews. I informed the CEO of the fact that I cannot do that, and we argued for a bit until I basically put my foot down and said that I refuse to post that way and if he/she wanted to proceed, he/she does so only with a notice by me that the practice is not allowed. --- Luckily, he/she ended up backing down and did not proceed.” “Many do not feel the need for social since it is difficult to determine ROI and doesn't always bring in direct sales. Many times, social has been reduced, or in one case, even cut completely. I fought back with statistics, studies, and our own metrics to show the value of social. I did prevail.” “Also have had to defend social, especially to traditional/legacy brands that still think of the Internet as a place where a bunch of people with too much time on their hands hang out to bitch/gripe. Had to explain, through examples, that these online consumers are influencers, reputation makers, etc., and potentially valuable ambassadors who should be treated as any other consumer, regardless of the channel they use to communicate with a firm/company/brand.”
  35. 35. Verbatims “We are moving form a ‘modern toy’ point of view to ‘communication channel’ attitude. It really matters - the more people know about value I bring to my company, my impact... the higher they estimate my efforts. I show them new ways to highlight our messages, new formats. I experiment and work hard on building trust with key audiences (correct and up to date info, quick response to their requests and so - followers can see that we are open to them... and they react positively, sharing their feedback with my colleagues, who work with them (IR, HR and so on). So my colleagues can feel that I support them in their efforts - and get ready to share their initiative for mutual promotion (e.g., simultaneously via IR and social media tools).” “There is a skill to social and an ability to understand its constant ebb and flow that not all have. Senior leaders who understand this value what social professionals bring to the table. It's often lacking in organizations who have yet to make a substantial investment in their social presence, making an active social professional more desirable and knowledgeable.” “Social skills and knowledge have elevated my existing skills and expertise in my profession as a change agent and an L&D professional. By being an early adopter, I have been able to set myself apart to a certain extent within my organisation and can take a leadership role in something that is still considered to be relatively new for the business and by combining these new skills with my existing skills and experience I can support and guide in a much more effective way than could an external consultant.” “For the last 11 years that I was working at a major corporation all along all of the different projects in multiple divisions, business units and organisations, all of them came through social technologies whether my corporate blog, my social interactions or the work I have done over the course of time around adoption and enablement of Social Networking / Business principles. Without social technologies I wouldn't have been even capable of living where I have been living last 10 years, i.e. remote, about 6.000 km away from my first line manager. In fact, for a good number of years I have been having my HR manager in Europe, my project manager in the US and myself being located in Africa. Social made that possible. Every time.”