Serving as CEO is a challenge at any age and takes years of experience to master. Imagine fulfilling the role in your mid-twenties. While many twenty-somethings stumble with juggling bills, establishing post-college friendships, and fording their own career paths, 26-years-old Jan Rezab balances married life, two kids, and the pressures of being CEO of his second company: Socialbakers.
“I’ve been working for the past 11 years,” Rezab says. “I started working when I was 14 or 15—I built my first website then…I think if you start working when you’re 22 or 23, and you have 11 years of experience, then you are 33.”
Before launching Socialbakers, a global social media marketing and measurement organization, in 2008, the Prague-native founded and headed Redboss, a mobile games company, for eight years. However, he was forced to close the company due to a lack of revenue.
“I learned to fail,” Rezab says. “In the U.S. failure is taken as a learning [experience]. In Czech it’s taken as a fail. If you fail, you’re never going to be successful [and] you should go work at the local factory…. I learned that it’s hard to start again, it’s almost impossible. But I tried to make the impossible possible, and that’s what drove me more and more…. I ended the business with $50 in my bank account, minus $100,000 of debt; that’s when I started Socialbakers.”
With the aim to close the year with more than $25 million in revenue, Rezab says that Redboss’s former annual revenue is now what Socialbakers makes in 12 days. Admitting that Socialbakers is a bit behind in its U.S. footing, Rezab aspires to make it in the big city by moving to New York and enhancing Socialbakers’ American presence.
Rezab pins U.S. social consumers as more demanding than other global consumers; however, he says U.S. marketers might not be adopting the technology and ideas needed to satisfy these demands as quickly as their international counterparts.
“I think the American marketers tend to think that they’re further on in the adoption world than they actually are,” Rezab says. “If I look at a UK marketer in social media, [or] a Brazilian or a Turkish marketer, they’re more advanced in their thinking.”
The social wiz deems Twitter and Facebook as his favorite social channels and ranks them as “equalizing.” However, his opinion is that Facebook should “be more like Twitter” and incorporate hashtags and Twitter should be more open to third parties and brand involvement. In addition, Rezab says reach and engagement and customer care metrics are his preferred social metric sets. However, he says the complexity of measuring the multitude of social metrics can be challenging.
“Social is not about one metric. It’s about all of them,” Rezab says. “Social is always about ‘try and fail’ and that’s why measurement is so important.”
According to Rezab, to establish a deeper level engagement with consumers, social content should always be at least two of the following: interesting, likeable, and sharable. In addition, he says not incorporating social customer service is one of the biggest social blunders a marketer can make. Rezab refers to the need to not only listen, but also react to consumers’ feedback as his theory of democratization.
“I think that 2013 is going to mark the first year where users are going to abandon a certain brand completely because of social media…because people have feedback and companies have to understand that people are anticipating more that they’re going to be heard out; not [just] listening, but action.”