Awesome interview with Ken Herron @, founder of SaaS company Social Grow. It’s a great story, and one that’s still unfolding!
He’s described on twitter as
#CMO | Cool Hunter | I increase companies’ revenue and market share by using new technologies 2 develop stronger connections between brands and their customers”.
How was 2014, what went well?
2014 was amazing. Not only was my Boston-based startup SaaS company SocialGrow acquired by Unified Inbox (they also acqui-hired me!), but the team was able to get the SociaGrow app up and running as part of Unified Inbox in just a few weeks. If you’re not familiar with SocialGrow (http://www.socialgrow.com), it makes it easier for you to connect with the people you know offline, online (it looks at the new people you email, and asks you which, if any, of your social networks you’d like to invite them to).
Anything you’d do differently?
Travel more! I had the opportunity to visit Vietnam last year, and I always want more time when I’m traveling someplace new, not less!
Plans for 2015 and the future?
Learn Chinese! I’m very comfortable with all of the Western social networks, but I see a real gap with marketers understanding how to leverage networks like Weibo and WeChat, and the barrier is language, not technology.
What’s your background, what led you into what you are now doing?
I spent my first 20 years with AT&T, Lucent, and Avaya — “hard-core” telecom creating both products people wanted to buy, and helping telcos to market and sell new technologies that were new to their business and consumer customers.
Cool Hunter – what’s a cool hunter? Your term or a new job title!
The best part of being a marketing guy is the ability to make up new words, so it’s my term here. Right before my first “big tent” presentation at real estate franchisor Realogy, my PR person asked me what it was that I did (my official title was VP of Interactive Strategies). After several [likely] long-winded explanations about how my role was to identify new technologies that would positively differentiate our customer experience and increase revenues (that were obviously not making sense to him), I told him I was a Cool Hunter.
My job was to go out and hunt down the technologies that would make our nine different real estate brands more money faster. Not only did he instantly get it, but he used it in my intro, and it really hit a nerve with people, so I’ve continued using it. Cool hunting is always a large part of a marketer’s role, and now I have a name for it.
You have a great following in twitter, is this part of how you do business (I’m guessing yes) – how has it helped you?
Social media has really changed the way brands and customers connect online. Back in the “Mad Men” era, marketing was broadcast-only, now it is fully interactive with the hard truth that marketers no longer have the final say in what a brand stands for, the brands’ customers do. I started using Twitter when it first popped up at SXSW simply to understand what it was and how it worked, and it has become a tremendous tool to keep up with the constant changes and best practices in marketing (remember when Facebook had organic reach?).
The ability to directly follow and listen first-hand to the smartest marketers out there is a phenomenal resource. I also like how anyone can reach out to me directly. It’s helped me to discover new tools, new partnerships, new employees, and most definitely new customers.
— Ken Herron (@KenHerron) May 28, 2015
How much time does it take to stay on top of your social media digital footprint?
I invest about an hour a day on it across all channels, but it’s a little bit of a red herring, as pre-social media, I would have been spending more time than that reading through trade journals and articles to keep up. Obviously, our Outbox Pro takes a lot of time out of creating great content.
Where else are you active as well as twitter?
I am most active on Twitter, LInkedIn, and SlideShare, and I maintain a presence on YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, and Facebook. I must join a new social network a few times a week to keep beads on what they’re doing, realizing that “the next big thing” could hit at any time.
— Ken Herron (@KenHerron) May 27, 2015
This – “Ranked the #2 Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) on Twitter worldwide by “Social Media Marketing Magazine.” – is a cool achievement. How did you achieve this award?
That was a lot of fun — when Twitter first started, there were very few CMO’s who were taking advantage of the platform, and in my opinion, were severely disadvantaged because of it. Social Media Magazine started ranking CMOs on Twitter, and Ted Rubin and I were neck and neck for about 18 months, but he definitely earned his #1 ranking.
And, what are you plans to take the #1 slot?
Far be it for a marketer not to be hyper-competiitve, but my use of Twitter has always been about efficiently learning what I need to know and engaging with people. Two recent examples: earlier this year I started doing a monthly segment on Paul Andrews and Jule Serkin’s Business Bunker radio show out of the U.K., and because it’s now a habit to live tweet (I live-tweet the radio show I co-host to share the latest social business news, trends, and best practices on Wednesdays with Carol McManus), I’ve not only reached a much broader geographical audience, but have been able to help people, from small business owners to authors, who are still in many way figuring out how to make social media work for them.
Top tips to companies trying to do well on social media?
No Bots (avoid automation)
No Barking (it’s a conversation, stop broadcasting)
No Babbling (avoid technobabble, and grammar counts!)
No Bozos (avoid compliance headaches by using Outbox Pro to make it easy to create and manage your organization’s approval workflows, and you get the added bonus of more people creating great content so it doesn’t fall on the shoulders of a single person!)
Anything else to add / we should have asked you?
The very first question I ask when I’m doing social media is “What do I want to achieve?” Without that absolute clarity about my goals, it’s all but guaranteed I won’t meet them!
— Ken Herron (@KenHerron) May 29, 2015