The New CEO Job Requirement: Social Media


The sad results are in: 70 percent of all CEOs have no presence on social networks. And John Mackey of Whole Foods is the only CEO of a Fortune 500 firm who maintains his own blog — yeah, the same John Mackey who stepped in it by comparing Obamacare to facism in an interview with NPR. Hey: it’s time for CEOs to rethink their approach to social — or should I say get an approach since I doubt they think about social very much. Social media is a job requirement for the CEO.

In 2012, George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research (and an excellent blogger), delivered a presentation about why CEOs don’t use social media, and the reasons apply today: a general aversion to risk, lack of time, a generational bias against social, and the existence of regulatory constraints (as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recently reminded us). Those constraints are understandable — but CEOs need to get over them. The fact is, CEOs need social media. Social helps CEOs better understand their market, their customers, their employees, and their own brands. Even better, social can help CEOs run their companies more effectively. An IBM study says that brands without social CEOs are less competitive, and according to Social Media Today, eight out of 10 employees want to work for social CEOs.

Recently, I sat down with Jermaine Dupri, to discuss how social media helps him be a better CEO of So So Def Recordings. As you might know, Dupri blew up the So So Def Recordings website and replaced it with his own social media community, Global 14. Dupri and I published the outcome of our conversation as a byline in Fast Company, available here. The byline discusses five ways social helps him run So So Def, an example being the way Global 14 gives him insight into up-and-coming musical talent. We also cite other CEOs who use social media effectively, such as Richard Branson, whose use of platforms like Twitter humanizes the Virgin brand.

If you are a CEO (or aspire to operate at that level), I hope our byline helps you embrace social, even if all you have time for is the occasional tweet. Just don’t blow off social.

How do you escape innovation hell?

At the 9th Annual Razorfish Client Summit, Razorfish Strategy executive Joe Crump asked a simple question: why can’t we innovate more often?  His premise: innovation, like pornography, is something we recognize easily when we see it — the Virgin Galactic, the customized Dell laptop, or just about anything Pixar creates.  But even when top marketers and designers try to innovate, 80 percent fail.  He stated many reasons why:

  • We mistakenly equate innovation with creativity, which makes innovation feel more like serendipity
  • We don’t really try to innovate. Most of us are just content making incremental improvements to our work
  • We measure the wrong things.  We obsess with click-through rates instead of wowing the consumer with brilliant engagement.
  • We use the wrong tools.  Focus groups are the enemy of innovation.
  • We rely on processes that kill innovation.
  • We equate innovation with advertising.  As Joe put it, “If I were in the television ad business, I would assume the crash position.”

So, if what Joe says is true, what’s the answer to actually innovating?  In a word, experience.

Innovation Hell by Joe Crump, Group VP Strategy & Planning, Razorfish from Razorfish on Vimeo.

“Stop obsessing on marketing messages, and start obsessing on better product experiences,” Joe said.  Then he gave a preview of the Razorfish Experience Wheel, a new process that Razorfish is developing to create fresh consumer experiences.

And then Joe did something quite remarkable.

in TED-like fashion, he challenged Client Summit attendees to share with Razorfish a business problem, a global problem, or just something that plain bugs you.  Razorfish will spend the next year using the Experience Wheel to create an innovative solution the problem.

Want to play?  Please send your problem to  Joe will do the rest.  We’ll report back to you in about a year.