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Showing posts from 2012

Can You Carry a Good Conversation? The Basic of Social Networking

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Social networks can be referred to as a complex social structure in which people connect with one another. Social networks have been around for as long as there have been human beings. People established networks by interacting with one another. Now that there is internet, which allows people to break the physical boundaries and connect with others in almost everywhere and at any time, will people find it easier to build a social network?
Indeed, it is often just one click away from connecting with someone online, but think deeper, there is no shortcut for building a real social network. Let’s say if we want to establish a professional relationship with a potential business partner in a traditional setting. First, we will find ways to get introduced to the partner. Then, we want to speak to the partner on the phone, in person, or at least with e-mail/mail. Such conversation provides a good opportunity for both parties to assess each other’s work and ideas. If both parties are interes…

Beyond a Profile Page: A Continuous Discussion of “Seeking Jobs on Social Media”

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It is no longer a secret that companies use social media to recruit and select managerial candidates. As a result, if a job seeker wants to catch an employer’s attention, s/he must be visible online as an expert.

Last year, I published an article about social-media job-search tactics in HOSTEUR™, in which I shared some career advice with hospitality and tourism students. A year later, I was invited to write an article of the same topic for the HealthyYou Magazine, but this time my target audience is the students majoring in nutrition science and public health. I actually offered similar advice to both groups (even though with different wordings). The truth is it doesn't matter in which area(s) a person wants to advance his/her career. The basic tactics of using social media in job search remain the same. Here are some examples,
A job seeker must understand the characteristics and qualifications that his/her ideal employer is looking for in order to design/develop an appropriate per…

Grooming Standards, Social Media, and Company Polices

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I recently read two discussions about company policies on employees’ grooming standards and social media. I believe they both deserve our attention, especially if we are working in the service sector.

The first one is about a company’s guidelines on employee dress codes and grooming standards. Today, there are more people wearing tattoos and piercings than before. It is found that 32% of those between 25 and 29 wear at least one tattoo. Does this mean more companies will allow employees to uncover their tattoos and piercings at work?
I doubt it. Based on my own research on hospitality recruiters’ expectations of job candidates and my work experience in the industry, I believe the service industry is still very conservative in dress codes and very strict on employees’ grooming standards. The question is: What policy is deemed appropriate in the work place?
According to a recent report in the HR Magazine, strict work place dress codes may raise legal issues, especially when a tattoo …

Distinguish Ourselves with Exceptional Analytical Skills

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Can a job candidate with exceptional analytical skills set him/her apart from the sea of applicants? Furthermore, will good analytical skills be able to help people advance their career?
According to Julie Martin, the Controller and Director of Operations at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center¹:   
Analytical skills are very important. Sometimes, it equals to “smart” even though there are smart people who might not have good analytical skills. … People with good analytical skills will be able to present their arguments with numbers and facts, which makes their statements more convincing. … Besides “numbers,” analytical skills can also be referred to a person’s ability of analyzing a complex issue and identifying the possible solutions to the problem(s).
Julie’s words remind me a qualitative study of mine in 2011, in which I asked a group of hospitality recruiters: “What intellectual skills are important in hiring a hospitality senior? Why are they important?”…

“SoLoMo” and Legislation

The “SoLoMo” (Social, Local, and Mobile) movement has great impact on consumer behavior and business operations. Now than ever before, more consumers are using mobile payments. According to a recent report @USAToday, the number of mobile payment users is expected to surge from 160.5 million in 2011 to 212.2 million in 2012, a 32% increase; likewise, the amount of mobile payment transactions will grow from $105.9 billion in 2011 to $171.5 billion in 2012, up 62%.

Earlier this month, Starbucks announced that consumers would be able to purchase coffee with Square’s Wallet App starting in November 2012. Eventually, consumers will be able to place an order and settle the payment even before they enter a Starbucks’ store.
When promoting mobile payment options or doing mobile marketing, however, businesses have to jump through one hoop --- they must convince their customers that such mobile app is safe and reliable and that their business is trustworthy. Recently, I received a few spam text …

Average/Below-Average Looking People Can Earn as Much as the Attractive Ones

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Research has shown that attractive people can not only charm interviewers (and thus get hired easier), they are also more likely to earn more as compared to those with average or below-average looks. Accordingly to a Wall Street Journal report, attractive people can earn 3% - 4% more than a person with below-average look. If such difference adds up over a person’s lifetime, an attractive person can earn up to $230,000 more than an ugly worker; even an average-looking person can make $140,000 more. Another relevant Wall Street Journal report also suggests that workers who exercise regularly can earn 9% more than those who do not.

If that is the fact (I believe it is), is it legal? Can employers do that?
To my knowledge, no law or regulation under EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) considers a person’s look as a protective class. It is true that people in general have an idea of what kind of person they feel attracted to, but there is really not a universal standard or crit…

Drawing Facebook Users’ Attention by Posting “Popular” Social Media Messages

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Facebook has become one of the most important means for B2C (business-to-consumer) communications. When a Facebook user likes, posts comments, or shares content with their Facebook credentials, an update will appear on this person’s wall, helping companies rapidly spread information. Companies must pay close to attention to Facebook users’ reactions to the messages they send on Facebook because Facebook users’ endorsement of a message can be very important in indicating the effectiveness of a company’s social media strategy.
In one of my recent studies (co-authored with Dr. Bei Yu), we adopted the text mining techniques to identify the type(s) of Facebook messages that are endorsed (and thus propagated) by Facebook users. We analyzed 982 Facebook messages initiated by 10 restaurant chains and two independent operators and found the following results:
The “more popular” messages, which receive more “Likes” and comments, contain keywords about the restaurants (e.g., menu descriptions)…

“我們歡迎您” - Welcome Chinese Tourists

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The September 1-7 issue of The Economist reported that China has become the No. 3 country by overseas-tourism spending. Between October 2011 and July 2012, the U.S. had processed one million tourist visa applications from China, a big increase of 43% for the same period a year earlier. Chinese tourists are coming to our way.
In the first half of 2012, 38 million Chinese took international trips.In 2011, they spent $73 billion while traveling overseas.On average, Chinese tourists spend $6,000 per trip (per person too?) in the U.S.More Chinese are seeking “deeper” experience in a destination over the “surface-and-group” tourist activities.
Many service providers have probably experienced the changing demographics of their guests. I have seen company’s effort of welcoming Chinese tourists. For example, some hotels in gateway cities have Chinese TV channels and have included Chinese breakfast items in the menu. Some hotel chains have translated every restaurant menu into Chinese, but I ar…

We Are Being Analyzed on Twitter for Marketing Purposes

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Most of us know that the Big Brother is watching us on social media. So, whether or not we want to be watched is out of the question. The debate turns to: To what extent should we be monitored? And more importantly, are we being watched for a good reason?
Twitter, for example, will soon allow advertisers to target users based on their “assumed” interests and hobbies, according to this Wall Street Journal video. Twitter is able to do that because it knows what users like by analyzing their tweets, favorite tweets, retweets, interactions with other users, keywords in Twitter search, the following list, and the follower list.  
In fact, other big players in the market like Google and Facebook have been running targeted ads for a while, but I still think this could be good news because marketers will have an additional medium to reach target customers --- users on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are different in many ways in my opinions. Besides, this could an important move for Twitter b…

Is It a Good Business Strategy to Offer Phone-Free Discount?

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A restaurant is offering 5% discount to customers who leave their cellphones at the door during the meal. The restaurant owner wants his customers to enjoy the dining experience and food without getting distracted by their cellphones, according to this Fox News video. Is this phone-free strategy well received and working?

It works very well for this restaurant. Over 50% patrons have chosen discount over cellphones. Moreover, it gave the restaurant about three minute free media exposure on Fox News, with additional conversations on social media.
Honestly, this is not the first time I heard of such incident. There are resort hotels encouraging guests to lock up their cellphones during their stay because they want their guests to truly enjoy the beauty of nature.
Will this phone-free advocate become a trend? More importantly, is it a good idea for business to promote a phone-free policy?
In my opinions, unless you are the first one who initiates a phone-free policy and gets some free …

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

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Even though the London 2012 Olympic Games have drawn to a conclusion, many dramatic moments remain vivid in our minds. We must owe thanks to the digital photography technology, which allows us to capture images that we cannot see otherwise with our naked eyes, as suggested in this Wall Street Journal video.
Indeed, visual effect has become very important for internet users --- “A picture is worth a thousand words.” No wonder those photo-based social media apps, such as Pinterest and Instagram, are widely adopted. 
As a matter of fact, I also found supporting evidence in that regard in a recent study of mine (Kwok & Yu, in press). Our analysis of 982 Facebook messages that were initiated by 10 restaurant chains and two independent operators reveals that Facebook messages can be divided into four media types, namely status (with text only), link (containing a URL), video (embedding a video), and photo (showing photos). Statistically, photo and status receive more “Likes” and commen…

Digging the “Gold Mine” of China: Now Is the Time

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Frits van Paasschen, the President and CEO of Starwood, talked about the outlook of lodging industry in an interview with CNBC, such as business demands, spending trends, and highlights of several geographic locations. China, of course, was mentioned several times.
Last summer, I shared with you that Starwood was opening a new hotel in China every other week. Today, Starwood still has 100 projects on the way. It may seem obvious that Starwood is doing very well in China.
Outside the mainland, I also feel Starwood is doing a great job in capturing the business opportunities from China. For example, Starwood’s top executives actually “lived” in Shanghai last summer to get “localized” by the Chinese culture and learn the “Chinese way” of doing business. Recently, Starwood is making a system-wide initiative to welcome the Chinese outbound travelers. Properties in the U.S. are required to add Chinese items in the restaurant and room service menus, make different amenities available (e.g.…

Your Potential Beats Actual Achievements: Really?

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The Wall Street Journal reported a study conducted by scholars at Stanford and Harvard, suggesting that employers are willing to pay more for candidates with high potential and promise than those with actual, proven performance. Is that for real? If so, how can job candidates demonstrate their potential during the interviewing process?
In this study, researchers asked 77 participants to evaluate two hypothetical applicants for a managerial position based on the candidates’ performance on two tests, one measuring a candidate’s leadership potential and the other measuring the actual leadership achievement. It turned out that these 77 participants were more excited with the candidate who did very well in leadership potential but moderate in actual achievement, as compared to the candidate who did very well in actual achievement but moderate in leadership potential. Interesting, but really?
I do not think potential alone can make the cut in job search especially in today’s economy. I ten…

Self-Promoter vs. Self-Deprecator: Which One Has Better Luck at Work?

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This month’s HR Magazine reported two interesting studies about self-promoter and self-deprecator. They are:
Leaders who rated their skills significantly higher than the ratings given by their bosses are six times more likely to derail than those who have a more realistic view of their work performance, according to a study with 39,000 global leaders.While the self-deprecators are less likely to derail than self-promoters, they are also less likely to advance than those who are in touch with their actual work performance, according to Louis Quast, associate chair of the Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development Department at University of Minnesota. Self-deprecators are often overlooked even though they could be really good performers. Another study of 14,000 U.S.-based managers reveals that those seen by their immediate supervisors as lacking in self-awareness and tact were most likely to derail.

I am not sure whether being a self-promoter or a self-deprecator is also a cultur…

Social Media: Is It a Gift from Angel or Devil?

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I keep hearing two distinguishing voices about social media. Some complain that social media has negative impact on individual users and the society as a whole because people can become very addicted to it and there is no sense of privacy in the cyber world. Others think highly about social media because people can use social media to promote business, find jobs, solve crimes, and remain connected with friends and family. Which school of thoughts makes sense to you?

To me, they all make sound arguments. I see social media as a “neutral” tool. If people do not understand social media or fail to use it in an appropriate way, it could be very harmful. At the same time, social media can certainly become very useful, depending on how we use it.
The following news videos, for example, provide some great examples of how social media can make positive impact. As featured in the first, CBS news video, NextDoor is a new entrepreneurship venture that keeps people connected with their neighbors…

Orbitz Targets Mac Users for Pricier Hotels

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Marketers have always been working diligently to better understand consumers and their behaviors. Using cellphone signals to track consumers’ shopping routines is a great example.
Now, Orbitz has found some interesting statistics by comparing the spending habits of Mac users and PC users. And because of that, Orbitz will display pricier options on top of the search results for Mac users than those for PC users.
As suggested in this news video @WSJ (Wall Street Journal), however, it does not mean that Orbitz is offering higher price for the same product to Mac users than to PC users. In other words, there is no price discrimination. What Orbitz does is to simply display different search results for Mac users because:  
As compared to PC users, Mac users spend $20 - $30 more per night on hotels.They are more likely to stay in a four- or five-star hotel.They are more likely to upgrade to a bigger room.
Similar results are also found in e-commerce sites. Retailers have found that people u…

Newly Released Statistics: How Big Is Social Media Now?

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It is no doubt that social media will be here to stay, but do you know how big social media has become? This MSNBC news video shares some updated statistics with us.
Twitter Sixty-seven percent (67%) NBA players are on Twitter. Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, for example, have 26+ million and 23+ million followers respectively as of June 24, 2012, more than the population of Australia (22 million).

I (@LinchiKwok) have to admit that I like Twitter even more after I use it as a teaching tool in my social media class. Twitter makes it easier for me to communicate with students and other industry professionals. As a matter of fact, Twitter is also very helpful for travelers. When my flight was delayed due to a storm in May, I tweeted to @AmericanAir and got prompt responses and assistance. What a great testimonial for the power of Twitter complaints
YouTube There are over three billion hours of YouTube videos being watched every month, 500 years of YouTube videos being watched on Faceboo…

Are Employers Expecting Too Much?

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There are millions of unemployed workers who are eager to find a job. Yet, there are companies still finding it difficult to fill vacancies. What is going on? Is it possible that we are not educating or training the labor force with the right skill sets that meet the society’s needs? Is it because employers are finding it challenging to screen the enormous amount of applicants for every vacant position?

According to this Wall Street Journal interview with Peter Cappelli, a Wharton School professor, there might be another possibility --- employers now have a different level of expectations. In my interpretation, employers are probably expecting too much from job candidates.
Some employers, for example, no longer want to invest in new hires. In the old times, employers were usually willing to hire candidates with good attitude and great leadership potential. Then, they would train new hires the technical skills needed at work and even let them spend time adjusting to the new organizati…