Title: Manager of inbound-marketing programmes
Size: 250 employees
TEAM PSYCHOLOGY: Assembling social business allies across a company
You do not have to be a top executive to help shift a company toward social business. As Simon Poulton has shown, a platform and a few well-placed allies can go a long way.
Mr Poulton, who is 26, leads the newly created inbound-marketing programme at Laserfiche, a maker of enterprise content management (ECM) systems. In this position, he is charged with engaging potential customers by providing information and advice via blogs and social media—and converting them into leads, customers and, ultimately, client advocates. Under his direction, readership of the company’s ECM blog more than doubled within a year.
To make the inbound-marketing programme a success, Mr Poulton has reached well beyond his own department to make Laserfiche more open and collaborative. He reached out to a number of potential internal collaborators, starting with individuals he thought would be natural allies—the director of marketing and the vice president of sales—because they would clearly benefit from a successful programme. He then expanded his efforts to the human resources, sales and user-experience teams.
A New Zealander, Mr Poulton came to Southern California in 2009 to play rugby for the University of California at Los Angeles and study psychology. Both interests would prove useful at Laserfiche.
His psychology training helped him see that, even if your team is on board, “you still need buy-in from people who are not directly involved in the project. You need as many allies as possible.” The key, he believes, is to be transparent about how everyone will benefit from social business practices.
Rugby taught him about leading a team. He has encouraged his extended group of collaborators to engage with potential clients via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. For example, he has trumpeted the usefulness of social tools at Laserfiche’s annual user conferences and worked with colleagues to move client conversations started there onto social media. A few years ago, he says, many people at the company felt it was a waste of time to use these tools. Now, he says, they understand social media’s utility and “it has become a part of our day”.
Mr Poulton has also leaned on data to persuade by showing what is and is not working. “We all have opinions, but to get people to rally behind you and support your ideas—that’s where the analytics come in.” Every Monday, he presents an analysis of where audiences have been engaged, discusses interesting ongoing conversations on various channels and previews upcoming content.
Mr Poulton says his relative youth may have made it more difficult to create cultural change, but that being a “digital native” weaned on social media has been an advantage overall. How you build social relationships online is not so different from how you build them offline, he says. If you remove obstacles to connecting and create relationships of value, the rest will come.