“People want to be heard and they are increasingly using social media and messaging platforms to speak their minds.” My next guest for #GAWG is Suzanne Hawken, the Senior Director of Social Media Marketing at realtor.com. She’s not only passionate about social media in her day job, but also in her personal life, which speaks exactly to how we met and continue to build our own relationship on social media every day! – #WeLikeGifs – I hope you enjoy the read!
You founded your own company in 2002, Real Social Results. What were the most exciting and challenging parts about running your own business?
Everything from A-Z! The challenging parts were the exciting parts – everything from the way the company was born, to going worldwide with my clientele. I’m an entrepreneur at heart (I began cleaning hotel rooms in England at age 11 so I could buy myself the swankiest of 80’s shoes!), so running my own business came pretty naturally.
If you could pick 3 lessons that you’ve learned while working in social, what would they be?
- Do what you love. You may want to be really good at painting, carpentry, or whatever, but do you truly love it? Things don’t last and you won’t be happy if you’re not in love (story of my life!).
- Always be learning. This can be said about anything – whether professionally or personally. I swear we are all made out of sponge! Don’t let it dry up! If you want to stay ahead of your competition or move forward in personal endeavors, you must always be taking time to learn new skills. It’s easy to do too – I spend most of my travel time (albeit, only 20 minutes to and from work) listening to podcasts and articles I have downloaded to my Pocket app. My favorite podcast for learning about other entrepreneurs (including the CEO of Flikr, Caterina Fake’s “How to Build A More Human Internet“) is Masters of Scale, hosted by LinkedIn’s co-founder, Reid Hoffman.
- People want to talk to… people. Sometimes, for kicks, I’ll read a brand’s Twitter posts and try to have a conversation with my partner just using their tweets. It doesn’t usually go very well or for very long. When brands converse with people in a way that people can relate to and engage with, the outcome is much different. People want to be heard and they are increasingly using social media and messaging platforms to speak their minds. If brands listen (and respond), they will build trust and momentum, and the sales will come.
What’s your favorite part about working in social media?
Social media brings me joy! Ok, sometimes it makes me really sad or angry (after all, it’s not just cat videos in my feed), but mostly it truly makes me happy. I get to learn about things I would have otherwise never know on a daily basis, I see what my friends and family are doing with their friends and families and I get to hopefully bring some joy to our followers too. What could be better than that?
What’s your favorite quote and why?
My favorite quote is, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started” by Mark Twain. I really like this quote because it just gives you that push, that kick in the butt to just get to it. I think everyone has those moments of really not wanting to do something, which they really need to do. Whether it’s due to fear, being uncomfortable, or, let’s face it, just being plain lazy! Oh, and I also really like this quote because Mark Twain is a (distant) relative of mine 🙂
How do you encourage innovation and creative thinking on the teams you lead or work with?
Try. One thing I love about my current boss is how he allows me to test new waters. You cannot learn without making mistakes and you can’t make mistakes without trying. I encourage my team to do the same – I’m a huge advocate of brainstorming – and some of the marketing tactics we have tested have turned out amazingly well!
What advice do you have for junior level employees wanting to make it to the C-Suite one day?
Nothing is impossible – my grandfather began working in the mailroom at, now liquidated, Confederation Life back in the 50’s. He retired as Senior Vice President. This didn’t happen overnight, of course, but when you have the drive and the passion to succeed, your dreams can be your reality.
I love book recommendations to help me grow in my career and challenge my thinking – What books would you recommend as a must-read for career growth and just for fictional fun?!
I would be remiss to not recommend the absolute classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie – if you’ve already read it, read it again! It’s an amazing book that not only will help create the path to professional success but also personal growth. Fictional fun books? What’s that?! I get my fictional fun reading from social media, of course! Puns Only or Very British Problems (I grew up in England) makes their way into my feed and keeps me laughing…