Jess Ostroff

Two Big Questions to Foster Social Business Success

By: Jess Ostroff | July 24, 2014 | 
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Two Big Questions to Foster Social Business SuccessBy Jess Ostroff

It’s not news that people, not products, are what make up a successful company, but sometimes people get overlooked as part of a greater need to be efficient and serve customers.

We study our target audience and personas to figure out what they want.

We scour the news for the latest trends, and we test and re-test the latest tools.

We rack our brains to identify the right strategy and cross our fingers for approval.

It’s always about what’s going on out there in the world, not about how our teams are working together.

Maybe instead of looking outward, it’s time to look inward.

Maybe it’s time to tap into the human resources our company already possesses.

They are called resources after all, right?

When we talk about the longer-term benefits of social business, building a social culture is crucial.

Social Business Success Starts with the Interview

My friend Vanessa Sain-Dieguez who works for Hilton Worldwide, recently wrote an article that really resonated with me.

Through a case study of the Hilton group, its goal was to prove that social media success is not solely on the shoulders of the marketing department.

It actually has a lot to do with the HR department.

That’s because the use of social media should not exist in a vacuum – it must be something that each employee values (even if they don’t all use it personally).

As a result, we need to be more careful in our hiring processes.

This doesn’t mean only hiring people who have more than 1,000 followers on Twitter or who are great at Snapchatting.

It means being more deliberate in hiring only people who fit within the social nature of the company—and asking the right questions to do so.

The Arment Dietrich team writes here on Spin Sucks at least once a month, and they share almost everything anyone writes—not just the pieces they author.

That’s because they care about what’s happening inside the entire Arment Dietrich environment, and they understand that Spin Sucks is a natural reflection of both the company and their own personal brands.

How did we get to this point? By asking the right questions in the very beginning to make sure we’re hiring the kinds of people that want to be a part of this extremely social culture.

Now, these questions may seem broad. But by listening with a socially-focused mindset, you’ll begin to understand your candidate’s priorities and how they fit (or don’t fit) within your overall social business goals.

Working with a Team

Ask your candidate what is their favorite part about working with teams.

Framing the question this way assumes the candidate does enjoy working with teams, which is helpful here.

If you asked instead, “Do you enjoy working with teams?” you’d simply get some form of a “yes.”

People don’t want to seem like they don’t enjoy working together when they’re interviewing for a job.

This question allows for an open-ended response and helps you dive deeper into how the candidate really feels about working collaboratively.

It also helps you understand whether or not they’ll fit in with your specific breed of “social business” culture (which you need to nail down internally before you even get to the interview process).

Some people think that to have a social business, your team must be full of extroverts.

This is not the case.

Introverted people can still be socially-minded, just in a different way.

What Does “Company Culture” Mean?

Vanessa mentioned that some of the best tweeters at Hilton weren’t even in the marketing department. Can you believe it?

Yes, it’s possible that people in other departments have great personalities that can shine through social media, even if it’s not a part of their job title. Why not release those personalities from the corporate cage?

If people feel comfortable and safe within their business environment, they are more likely to let their true colors run free. And when they are truly and completely on board with the social culture of your company, it won’t seem like a chore to promote themselves and your business online.

Asking questions about your company culture up-front in the interview makes it clear to your candidates that culture is something that’s important to you. It will likely get the wheels turning in your candidates as well, as they realize that this is something they will potentially be a part of.

Culture and an Employee’s Well-Being

As a follow-up to this question, consider asking something like, “What cultural elements are most critical to your well-being?”

The candidate’s answer will show you two things:

  1. Whether the candidate researched your company’s values and already feels they’re a good fit; and/or
  2. If what makes the candidate happy is something the company is prepared to offer.

It’s not just about taking pride in the company; it’s about taking pride in ourselves.

We are what makes or breaks the success of a business, after all, and I would argue that finding a cultural match for your social business is even more critical than finding an experiential match.

How are you fostering social business success in your own organization?

photo credit: jamonation via photopin cc

About Jess Ostroff


Jess Ostroff is the founder and director of calm of Don't Panic Management, a virtual assistant agency. She loves finding efficient ways to get work done, bringing good people together, and enjoying live music.