Social Sales & Marketing Influencers
Hiring talent with ‘Klout’ is a double-edged sword. Some employers believe influencers make excellent candidates because they are natural sharers and outspoken community builders that can add a ton of value inside an organization and out. Others are deeply concerned about the risks of hiring influencers. According to one prominent social sales marketing influencer (who requested anonymity in accordance with his employer’s P.R. policy), some employers are wary of hiring influencers, both because they tend to challenge the status quo and because they may put their personal brand ahead of their employers’ interests. The irony is palatable, and provides an intriguing conundrum for today’s socially-minded brands.
The discussion about how social is impacting talent management and challenging business culture is just beginning, and is led in part by intelligent prospecting and social sales platform providerKiteDesk. Early this year, the company announced the world’s top 30 social selling experts. As a follow-up, KiteDesk today published the top 40 social selling marketing masters, based on research conducted by influencer marketing agency Evolve!, Inc.
As a talent and brand champion, I think it’s important to understand the benefits and risks of hiring people with social influence,and to know how to navigate the risks associated with their management. To this end, I recently consulted several of the marketers named to the Top 40 list. Here are some of their most significant insights:
Insight #1: Hire socially smart people.
Best-in-class social sales organizations recognize that their prospects, leads, and customers are just a tweet, like or comment away – and they ignore social media at their peril. According toHubSpot CEO Brian Halligan,“If you’re not responding to customer inquiries, questions from leads and prospects about your products, and influencers in your space on social media, your competitors are, and they will eat your lunch.”
Brian looks for employees who are willing to help prospects and leads solve their biggest business challenges, and who display traits such as active listening, relevant and timely responses, and a willingness to be transparent and helpful. Given his core beliefs, it’s easy to understand why four other top marketing influencers named to the top marketing list – Dharmesh Shah, Mike Volpe, Joe Chernov and Laura Fitton – work for Hubspot.
Insight #2: Klout scores matter only to a degree, they tell just part of the story.
Klout has garnered all manner of praise and controversy, and it should not be ignored when it comes to hiring talent. According to Cheryl Burgess, CEO/CMO of Blue Focus Marketing, “Klout is considered the industry standard in measuring a person’s influence across social networks. Its success lies in its ability to not only measure superficial attributes such as likes and retweets, but also who you’re engaging with and what kind of influence those people have. Because of this, a Klout score is an easy benchmark for employers when considering bringing a new social employee into the fold, as it shows that they already have a proven track record and know how to deploy sophisticated engagement strategies.”
While some hiring managers embrace the often useful data from tools like Klout, others are quick to point out that someone who has successfully created their personal brand does not necessarily have the skills to do the same for a corporation. Inc. columnist and author Geoffrey James argues, “There’s no advantage whatsoever to hiring marketers who have their own ‘Klout’ because personal branding is the opposite of corporate branding. If I were looking for a marketer, I’d look for somebody who hasn’t bothered to create a personal brand but instead took actions that won their previous employer a lot of ‘Klout.’”
Marketing Nutz CEO Pam Moore doesn’t believe a single score can assess a person’s ability to change people’s thought or drive their actions. Instead, she advises hiring managers to look beyond these scores and evaluate how well an influencer is leveraging social media and technologies to deliver value. “The easiest way to determine if a person has real influence is if they have an engaged community and a wealth of quality, relevant and valuable content they are sharing on a regular basis.”
Insight #3. Step Aside. Let socially savvy people do their thing.
Companies routinely allow employees to have face-to-face conversations with the community, without having to go to the attorneys, HR or anyone else to get things pre-approved. Bloomberg TV host and marketing executive Jeffrey Hayzlettexplains, “Some companies try to restrict their employees and say you have to run every tweet and communication by them. Do you do that with emails? Do you do that with phone calls? Do you do that with every fax? I don’t think so. So why would you do it with social media?” Jeffrey advises managers to work with employees to find out the best way to talk about the company and let them talk about it, just like in any public forum.
Insight #4: Set the stage for social business.
IBM General Manager Sandy Carter encourages tens of thousands of IBM employees to join the social business conversation using social media and Social Governance. She explains: “A Social Governance is a document that outlines the company’s policies on the do’s and don’t of using social media for business purposes. But more than that, it empowers employees to know and understand how they can engage and what is expected of them as they participate in social business.”
Insight #5: Lead by example.
McKinsey & Company partner David Edleman predicts that over the next few months more senior executives will be finding their voices in social media, “not just for lead generation, but also to connect with the market, put a face on their institution, and have a channel for joining the debates that are out there.”
According to SAP Vice President Michael Brenner, leading by example is key when it comes to empowering social employees. “Executives who have mastered how to influence others with social channels can only help the brand reach new audiences and build trust, as long they are authentic and helpful.”
Of course, these influential marketers have MUCH more to say on the subjects of talent management and social marketing knowhow. Peruse the KiteDesk blog to see a curated list of tips and to follow the top 40 marketers in one click.