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The Engagers: David Smooke on Social Media Engagement

Aug 20, 2013

David Smooke is Director of Social Media at SmartRecruiters, the hiring platform. In addition to overseeing SmartRecruiters’ online communities, David is the Editor-in-Chief of the SmartRecruiting Blog and co-organizer of the monthly Smartup events.

David, you've built up an impressive community for SmartRecruiters over the last two and a half years. You started from next to zero and currently have an engaged Facebook following (25,000+ likes), active Twitter channel (15,000+ followers) and a well-read blog. What role does influencer engagement play in your social strategy?

That’s very nice of you to say. And I must say, I have not built this re-engage-able audience alone. From the CEO on down, we have a culture of sharing. Employees can be a company’s greatest social asset. The community manager and I offer social media consulting to all SmartRecruiters employees to help market the company and grow their own networks.

With the rise of social media, word of mouth has gained market share in the business of consumer decision making. To me, influencer marketing is other people sharing my messaging. When someone without a vested interest in a subject talks about that subject, the engagement is just more viral. To get people sharing your messaging you need to create remarkable content (what I spend most of my time doing - and I suggest you do too).

Remarkable content is the sun to my influencer marketing strategy. By definition, your content is only remarkable if people are talking about it. And who is remarking about my content? My target consumer, ideally. And who do I want remarking about my content? If someone, who many of my target consumers follow, talks about me or my product, I now have a multiplier for my customer acquisition funnel.

One of your personal tag lines is "curious about how people share". What is the most interesting thing you've learned about how people share?

The Engagers: David Smooke on Social Media Engagement

Most of sharing has the end goal of attaining knowledge, evidenced by Google’s suggested insertion of “knowledge” into the search of “people share because.”  As the Dalai Lama says, “Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.”

B2B marketers can not get enough professionally relevant content to share. This leads to many B2B marketers sharing irrelevant and unremarkable content, or not sharing often enough. In terms of building a blog, always remember that one great post can get you a multitude of people who not only share that post, but now also trust to share whatever you publish next.

As a publisher, I am keen on the size and dedication of our re-engage-able audience. One thing I do to learn about how our online community shares, is to spend more time reading the updates of our community’s recent exits and new entrants.

You spearhead both community management and influencer outreach for SmartRecruiters. What are the major differences in how you outreach to these different groups?

There is no difference in my approach to community management and influencer outreach. I see everyone who is a part of my community and the company’s community as an influencer; the key is knowing what, and to whom, each member of the community is influential about. I suppose there is a managerial aspect in deciding the order of who to respond and reach out to, but a community’s development is subject to the will of every person in the community. In my opinion, communities cannot be managed, they can only be influenced.

Mr. Smooke, you are younger than the average Director but that hasn't stopped you from building a valuable social presence for SmartRecruiters. From the outside looking in, it seems like you must have magic social skills. Is that true or do you face challenges like the rest of us?

Above all else, age is a mindset. I’m 8 today and I’ll be 8 on the day I die. Now that that’s out there, I must say each age has its inherent pros and cons.

Social Media is, in the spaceship’s perspective to Earth, a baby of an industry. I joined Facebook in 2006, and that gave me 5 years of relevant skill development before joining SmartRecruiters. Rather strange really.

I generally tell people that my job is very easy. But it’s not. Adding maximum value to other people’s news, advice and search consumption requires infinite consumption of the news, advice and search. Nevertheless, the more I tap into my true voice, the more influence I have; which makes my job in a sense, very easy. I see a world where authenticity is rewarded.

I’ll give you my magic trick. Repetitively ask and come up with new answers to: How can I add more value to this group of people?

How do you figure out how to break into new communities? Before engaging, what types of things do you look and listen for?

Break into a community? I am not the Edukators breaking into some empty vacation house in the South of France to move all the furniture around. I enter online communities just like I enter new business: by being myself. The line between listening and contributing is not a line at all. If you are reading in a community you are engaging with the content. As I read, I find areas where I can add value to the community, and in doing so, I make public contributions.

Entering a new social network is no more daunting than going to a party. You are prompted to find out which of your existing friends are already going/there. You talk to people who have differing or like minded viewpoints around your interests. And you just run into people because, I don’t know, you’re both looking at the art on the walls.

Do you have a kryptonite?

My kryptonite is people who don’t give a shit about changing the way the world functions.

You've managed to get on the radar of some very influential people in the recruiting space and beyond. Can you tell us how you did that?

Mainly because our product is awesome, our CEO understands the future of recruiting technology and our purpose can better the livelihood of many. Additionally, I’d like to tell you how I went from attending an event as an intern to moderating a panel with a best selling author.

With all this talk of online communities, never underestimate the power of talking to people face to face. As an intern I attended the HRtech conference and met Geoff Web, who ran another conference called Radical Events. We talked about doing an event together but Geoff got a cool new job, and the fell through. But then he introduced me to Jeff Waldman, who ran SocialHRCamp. Jeff needed a venue for his first SocialHRCamp in San Francisco, Geoff recommended SmartRecruiters, and Jeff agreed. During that event, there was a speaker named Mark Babbit (Youtern CEO), who was very complimentary of event.

Mark introduced me to Tim McDonald (Huffington Post Director of Community), and we ended up hosting a community manager unconference (#cmgrUN). Sixty community managers at SmartRecruiters; it was a social bonanza. Very fun! So Tim introduced me to Porter Gale (Author of “Your Network Is Your Net Worth”), and the next thing you know I’m on a panel where Porter is sitting next to me saying, “Today’s Intern is Tomorrow’s CEO.”

David Smooke on Social Media Engagement

[David reminds me that social media is all about the people you support and the relationships you cultivate.]

If there really was a team of superheroes named the Engagers and you were on it, what name would you give yourself?

The Talking Head. People dig the way I talk and I’m running in place then backstage then back to the stage then around again and again and I am no longer the subject but the people keep talking.