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Getting social with Hootsuite - how can social media support your talent strategy?

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Hootsuite has seen exponential growth over the past three years. The social media company, which started as a small team of 20, now has more than 700 employees in nine different locations and averages 10 new hires a week. Its vice-president of talent, Ambrosia Humphrey, tells Sarah Clark how it is empowering its people with social media, and why you don’t need to be a ‘social ninja’ to encourage collaboration.

What are you main objectives and current responsibilities?

I oversee all of our people globally, which means full function HR of the employee life cycle.

How many people do you employ, over how many locations?

Our headquarters are in Vancouver, Canada. When I first came on board three years ago, we had just 20 people. Now, we’re nearing 700 in nine countries, with an average of 10 hires a week.

What do you love about your job and how the business and talent grown in the past three years?

Collaboration, entrepreneurialism, passion and egolessness are things I try to surround myself with, and this is something the organisation weaves into its business in a very genuine way. The business and social space have matured over the past three years but we’ve managed to keep our sense of culture, hunger and agility, despite the growing numbers. We work hard to ensure that everyone coming in will grow with us, and are engaged in our vision to revolutionise communication via social.

"I think it's interesting that businesses have accepted social transparencies and strategies to connect with their customers but are still concerned about trusting their employees with the same tools"

Organisations are still apprehensive about social media in business. Why do you think it now plays such a vital role?

It’s interesting that businesses have accepted social transparencies and strategies to connect with customers but are still concerned about trusting their employees with the same tools. It seems a bit of a disconnect for me as aligning talent to the customer experience appears key to success.

How are you using social media tor recruit and develop your talent?

We are extensive social users when it comes to employer branding and recruitment. Our talent team uses LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Our favourite initiative is employee-led; our #hootsuitelife is a hashtag that belongs to our employees to share stories, and show both our culture and the exciting technical challenges we’re trying to solve. This is not HR-curated, it’s them giving real-time examples of who we are.

Where do you see the future of social media in business? What skills and capabilities will leaders need to support their talent?

Social will become deeply ingrained into social organisations, as email once did. Not every leader needs to be a social ninja, but the challenge for leaders is to educate and empower their employees to have social competency. That way, with all of the new tools coming out, they’ll be able to find valuable ways to bring it into their organisations internally, and into the customer experience.

What are your top tips for leaders looking to integrate social media into their organisation?

Know your people. Assessing your organisation from a strategy and sentiment perspective means you can build the social frameworks with them.

We’ve found that organisations put down social media, policies are vague, and this puts unintentional fear into their employees. Then they’re surprised when nobody gets on board when they try to roll out a social initiative. I would recommend to start with ‘the why’ – what are you trying to achieve for the business and how does social fit into it? Communicate that to your employees, how they can participate, and what the guidelines are for engagement.

As part of your social policy, ensure you have an escalation strategy in place, in case there’s a social media situation. Your HR, IT and marketing teams should all know the actions expected of them and each other.

Sarah Clark

By Sarah Clark

Changeboard

Online features editor at Changeboard

Changeboard

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