HRExaminer Radio

HRExaminer Radio is a weekly show devoted to Recruiting and Recruiting Technology airing live on Friday’s at 11AM Pacific

HRExaminer Radio

Guest: Terry Starr, Head of Social Media Strategy at Dice
Episode: 100
Air Date: June 24, 2015


Audio MP3


Terry Starr is a Senior Social Media Marketing and Employer Brand leader that has helped to strategically elevate major national brands like IKEA, H&M and J&J within the marketplace, driving global social engagement initiatives utilizing social media, Voice of Customer (blogger outreach, brand ambassador programs), digital, grassroots and global events marketing strategies.

A 20+ year veteran in the recruitment marketing industry, Terry was a pioneer in Social Recruiting, understanding early on the influence consumers and the blogger community would have on brand loyalty as an early adopter in 2009 and co-founder of MyWorkButterfly, a global social network to help moms return to work.

Terry has made a name for herself as a social media marketing innovator, creating unique social brand and engagement activations online, as well as at highly visible tech recruiting and sourcing grassroots and national events. Terry prides herself on her creativity with a “left brain – right brain” and desire to never stop learning and sharing.

Since joining Dice as the Director of Social Media Strategy in 2011, Terry has overseen the successful development and implementation of social media and engagement strategies. In 2012, she was asked to bring her keen understanding of social to Dice’s event marketing and blogger outreach programs. Most recently, Terry was asked to Head up Social Media and Voice of Customer for Dice. She uses her wealth of knowledge and relationships built over the years to form a well-armed Influencer, Blogger and Brand Ambassador Army to engage and create relevant conversation.

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Begin transcript

John Sumser:            Good morning and welcome to the HR Examiner Radio show. This is your host John Sumser, and we’re coming to you live from beautiful downtown Occidental, California. The place where innovation becomes real for a start in the state of California. The roses continue to explode off of the trees, and it is a sunny sunny day. Today, we’ve got Terry Starr with us. Terry is here because this is the hundredth HR Examiner Radio show and she was the original inspiration for getting it started. Terry is a wonder child who has turned social media in the HR and recruiting universes on its head. Terry it’s great to have you here. How are you?

Terry Starr:                 Well thanks John and congrats on the hundredth anniversary. I absolutely remember when we were thinking about this idea to focus on tech talk, so that’s awesome. Thank you for having me.

John Sumser:            Yeah, yeah it’s so great. Thanks for all of the support over the years. Terry is the chief goddess of social media for Dice. Dice if you don’t know is the technical job board company. They own a bunch of properties including Dice in particular. I’m going to let Terry introduce herself and tell you some things about Dice. Terry it’s yours, introduce yourself please.

Terry Starr:                 Oh sure, so hi all I’m Terry Starr. As John said, I head up our social media and voice of customer for Dice. I am also the co founder of MyWorkButterfly which is a global social network that supports moms returning back to the workforce. I thought maybe I would share kind of a funny story that was really the inspiration I think for much of my career with you John and your listeners. Which hopefully you can relate to. When I was a young girl I was actually very obsessed with the show Bewitched, and not for most of the reasons you might think. Essentially I thought that Darrin Stephens had the coolest job in the whole wide world, developing those cool ad campaigns for his clients. I was really, believe it or not, that stuck with me as a young child and until my journey began. It’s kind of crazy how that panned out.

John Sumser:            You’re really Elizabeth Montgomery? I had no idea.

Terry Starr:                 I’m really Darrin Stephens, in a female body.

John Sumser:            That’s funny, so does that make your boss Larry Tate?

Terry Starr:                 Exactly.

John Sumser:            Oh I’m going to tell her the next time I see her, “You’re the Larry Tate.”

Terry Starr:                 Exactly.

John Sumser:            What exactly do you do at Dice?

Terry Starr:                 Right, so I’m focused essentially, my number one priority is to help change perception of Dice. We are a legacy brand as you know. John I know you knew Dice back in the day of the twenty year plus years ago. Taking Dice from being seen as simply a tech job board, a niche job board, to what we deliver today. Which is more of a cool fast social recruiting platform, providing insights, and ability for employers and in demand tech talent to connect better is really a big focus of mine. Then as you mentioned earlier as chief evangelist essentially for Dice I spend most of my time in three areas.

One is really learning and listening to what’s happening in the market to make sure that Dice stays relevant and aware of what customers are saying. Number two really engaging and educating the brand ambassador army, our influencers, and of course the blogger community. Which is near and dear to my heart. Then in speaking, speaking regularly at national grassroots events like SHRM and True, influence HR on others, really on the benefits of social media and how to build a social brand.

John Sumser:            You really I think pioneered the methods and techniques of building a social brand. The world is different because you’ve been through it. Talk a little bit about what you’re trying to do and how you do it. I think that if we dig a little bit here there’s some real insight for the people who are listening.

Terry Starr:                 Absolutely, let’s go back to 2012 John. I remember us meeting at RIS, which we had lunch and I specifically remember quote unquote you said something like, “I’m so glad you’re here Terry. I thought Dice was dead.” Fast forward after the last several years, you know really understanding from my previous experience on Butterfly and the importance of the blogger community, particularly in the mom space, and then bringing over a lot of that thought process to Dice. Being able to engage with that community and create SociallyInfused, go to Market Strategies, you know over the last several years. You know no more logos on bags for us, and building out that brand ambassador army. Then again understanding the importance of how consumers rely on consumer’s opinion to form buying decisions was really something that I guess I understood early on before most, and really took us to a place where we began to dominate in terms of, whether on social or events. Then fast forward today to really all of my focus predominately is on voice of customer. I feel like I, again remember that day in 2012 together, and we’ve come a long way in three years, so I’m pretty excited about that.

John Sumser:            You said brand ambassador, but what does that really mean? Because nobody wants to be a brand ambassador. That’s a way of talking about something that happens, that if you went and talked to individuals in your army of brand ambassadors I’m not sure all of them would go, “Yep that’s me.” What is a brand ambassador and how do you cultivate that in a person?

Terry Starr:                 Right, so I think it’s almost I guess number one. If you look at the principles of social media and the ideal of what I call the “Give Back Strategy”. Which is really the idea that it comes from [sales 00:08:09] and the idea of the reciprocity. That you have to give about four times before you can get right. Number one it’s about maintaining that idea that you’re going to give. You’re going to give a lot and invest a lot in a community of folks who are compiled of, it could be customers, it could be influencers, the blogger community who, you know you have to spend a lot of time with, invest in their needs first, and do a lot of listening, and a lot of learning, to support them in what they’re trying to do.

Then ensure that you’re educating them in terms of what’s Dice been up to, and what are we doing to help move the industry forward. I think this was again something I understood very early on. That with, when I say brand ambassador, I mean really brand loyalists. People who are loyal to the brand, who will speak on behalf of the brand based on experiences that we’re providing. That reflects back on the ideal of creating these kind of cool experiences where we’re engaging these various audiences that are important to us, so that this year in 2015, again when I say focus on voice of customer, what that means is that Dice isn’t doing much of the talking. Right, and so we’re relying on me and my team making sure that this community is heard, is listened to, and that we are there to support their needs in hopes that, which has apparently been doing very well, but in hopes that they will in turn communicate how they feel about the brand so that it’s more believable, it’s more transparent. Then we’re optimizing our opportunity to communicate out to our audience. It’s a big investment of time and energy, but the payoff is huge.

John Sumser:            What you’ve just described is something that isn’t as obvious as it sounds when you say it. You’ve just described a method for building word of mouth reputation in the twenty-first century using social media. You’ve described a company that plans to have its customers and its other people that it’s influenced be the way that the message gets out about the company. That is, it’s been a great theoretical idea about marketing, but I don’t think anybody was ever able to actually do that before the advent of social media. Do you? Is this an old thing in a new setting or this is a brand new kind of thing?

Terry Starr:                 Oh I definitely agree with you on the former. I don’t think it was really possible before the advent of social, so a hundred percent agree with that statement.

John Sumser:            You’re so sophisticated, you’re so sophisticated with this stuff. I really don’t think there’s anybody else, at least in our universe, who is anywhere near your level of sophistication for executing this sort of thing. It must be crazy to try to get a twenty year old very successful publicly created company to buy into an idea like this, because it hasn’t really been done before. What’s being a pioneer like?

Terry Starr:                 Well you know of course I think it’s exciting to go out with an idea, again early adoption usually has a good pay off. I think that we’ve reaped the rewards of that. Again, I think that most recently, which I’m pretty excited about. I’m not sure if your listeners saw the recent coverage in Forbes, but actually today the article just hit ten thousand views. Again, I encourage your audience to take a look at that article, but it really speaks to, and hat tip I would say to the brilliant marketing team led by Natasha Raja. Who really took a chance on putting, as you may have seen John on the 101, real programmers on billboards in their underwear, kind of think Calvin Klein. We supported that effort through, again voice of customer, our brand loyalists were all over our new campaign that we put out to, again change the perception of this, as you said twenty year old legacy company, to today being seen as a very cool company who enlists, again brand loyalists to get our message out.

Every single day since we launched that campaign there’s actually chatter on social about it. Which is incredible, so people talk about like creating buzz on social, and we did it. We did it not singularly through one specific medium. We used traditional, billboard, out of home media, but we combined that and integrated it with social. We just crushed it, but it really was the force behind in getting the message out. Which again I credit to, you know putting the idea out there. Which was certainly a huge risk on her part, but then being supported continually through our brand loyalists. I think it’s a great example of how you can take a brand who may be seen as old technology, as a twenty year old brand, and taking it into the twenty-first century as a very cool sophisticated brand. Who was actually compared, our marketing was compared to the like of Amazon and Apple in this particular article. I don’t think it really gets better than that, for me anyway.

John Sumser:            That’s great, so how many brand loyalists are there?

Terry Starr:                 Well I have a core circle of loyalists that I spend a lot of time with. That’s a circle of about thirty. There’s probably about a hundred in my army and growing. I have my core, and so when we have to move quickly on something it’s about communicating quickly, and educating, and then relying on this army to support our effort to get the messaging out to the universe that we’re trying to serve.

John Sumser:            To be clear these brand loyalists are not Dice employees. They’re people who are bloggers and other kinds of influencers who you have methodically built relationships with in a very disciplined way so that they have gotten tons of value from the relationship. It works easily and smoothly because you keep the relationships lubricated, that’s right?

Terry Starr:                 That’s exactly it. When you talk about what does my day look like you’re really looking at a majority of my day is really spent engaging with this universe of brand ambassadors, and influencers, and loyalists. Who we’re relying on for a lot of what we need to do from a social media marketing strategy perspective. Yeah, that’s a big part of my day.

John Sumser:            When you build something like that how fragile is it? What do you suppose it would take to break your system?

Terry Starr:                 I don’t think it’s fragile at all. I’ve built these relationships over time. I actually credit Sarah Brennan back in the day who helped me right from the beginning. This has been over time, over four years. These relationships go very deeply. There’s not really a day that goes by that I’m probably not in some way, shape, or form communicating. Whether it’s one to one, or online, or seeing them in social. I go back to the ideal of give back, and that I make sure that we are doing our job to give back to the community. I hope that your listeners would take that away from the effort that we are doing. That we’re first about giving, and everything that we receive is gravy. I think it’s an ideal, and we live by it.

John Sumser:            That’s such a hard thing to get, and get turned into a program. The ideals are great. I’m sure you must have had just an extraordinary time building the support in your management team. It must have been very challenging in the early days to get your executives on board for this.

Terry Starr:                 Well I think in the early days because we were ahead … Whenever, John as you know, like when you’re ahead of the curve, and you’re trying to convince leadership on what would be called a novel idea at the time. Because you know we are talking about 2011, 2012. I think that’s true, but when you start to see the fruits of the labor it makes it a lot easier to get it sold internally. You do have to continue to hold the baton, and wave the flag, and show the return on what people are saying about us.

That’s number one. Then number two would be that through these efforts we’re actually able to listen better, in terms of what are our customers saying, and what our customers want. That also, not only affects from a marketing perspective, but it also affects from a product marketing, and a product perspective. There’s certainly a number of key outcomes from this type of program. I was going to mention one last thing to that. Last week I was at the Corporate Social Media Summit in Brooklyn, which was awesome by the way. One of the speakers there was someone from Microsoft. I was super excited to hear that Microsoft has also a whole dedicated voice of customer staff. Who spend all of their time focused exactly on what we’re focused on. Also to walk away knowing that our Dice marketing team is really well ahead of the curve. Because I think that Microsoft, again being Microsoft, certainly was on top of this idea. They have people specifically dedicated to it, so kudos to them and exciting for us.

John Sumser:            That’s cool, so one of the things that’s interesting about your approach is you’ve built this army of supporters, but it’s still a classic marketing problem so you have to constantly change message, and format, and the sort of seasonal things of marketing. Talk a little bit about how it works when you shift. Because you rely on this brand loyalists network, but you have to shift your relationships because you can’t keep turning out the same old thing. You’re not building a static message delivery system. You’re building an organic whole that deploys differently depending on when you deploy it.

Terry Starr:                 Yeah, no that’s a really good question. I would say it’s not easy. Also you know how fast social media moves. I certainly read a lot. I’m always on social, always looking at, not only from a social perspective, but also our own customer base. I meet a lot of people. I attend a lot of events. When I meet someone who is active on social, who may be a customer of ours, who is excited about the brand, and who is using our, for example they might be using Open Web, and they love the product. Well I want to enlist them through, again getting to know them, and understanding them more deeply and how that might translate in future opportunities for us. Again, is that a panel that we might want them to speak on? Is that a blog post that maybe they’d be willing to write, or is it simply chiming in when we go on a Tweet chat, and chiming in with their point of view? It’s definitely an iterative process. It is organic, and it continues to have to grow. I do look at every scenario.

As a most recent example, we’ll be going to SHRM on Monday. We will be launching the next wave of our hottest in tech campaign. There’s planning involved in terms of who is going to be in the blogger lounge, which we are sponsoring. Which is great, and that is a very strategic move on our part. We’ve been there for four years to continue to engage this audience. It is about who’s going to be there, who do we think is most relevant to what we’re trying to do. Then taking the time ahead of time to plan for that type of activation. It’s a constantly moving target for sure.

John Sumser:            Yeah I bet, so we have whipped through our allotted time. What should I have asked you?

Terry Starr:                 Well I guess maybe what would people say about me? I think that is maybe an interesting question.

John Sumser:            What do people say about you?

Terry Starr:                 Right, so I guess the number one thing I hear a lot is that people always tell me when I talk about social and branding I become very passionate and animated on the topic. In fact, my nickname at work is actually #HQ. Which is hashtag queen. I’ve also been told that no one should ever want to go up against me in a negotiation. Which I guess John you know about me. Let’s just say I’m not a pushover. About a year ago I actually asked one of my brand ambassadors at Google that very question. His answer was, “I’d say you’re a problem solver who gets stuff done.” I kind of thought, that kind of hits the mark. I figured I’d share that with you.

John Sumser:            That’s great, okay so in conclusion what do you want the audience to take away from our conversation?

Terry Starr:                 I think the main thing is that we are all educators of the brand, consumers. If you truly want to make an impact on your target audience I think you’ll need to understand that principle of voice of customer and engagement. Certainly I’m glad to see that our industry is moving forward, but in a word at the end of the day I think consumer is still queen or king. Then I would definitely encourage leaders to understand the importance of building out your social media, brand ambassador, and loyalist armies to truly engage with your target audience in a more authentic and believable way. Because I think after all, I know Forrester recently came out with a stat that eighty-five percent of B2B decision makers rely on trusted online communities when researching business technology. There’s a business case for this, but I think it’s important for leaders of organizations to understand the importance.

John Sumser:            That’s great, so please reintroduce yourself and tell people how to get a hold of you Terry.

Terry Starr:                 Sure, so I’m Terry Starr. We can definitely connect online. You can follow me @hrsocialstarr with two R’s and @butterflymoms, so that’s hrsocialstarr or butterflymoms, either handle. Just connect with me and then we can begin our conversation there.

John Sumser:            Thanks so much for taking [inaudible 00:27:06] and again this is the hundredth HR Examiner Radio show. It wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you Terry. This is one of the examples of how you build brand loyalists. It’s been great to have your support and to be part of this amazing story. Thanks for coming.

Terry Starr:                 Aw thank you so much John. I’ve enjoyed it and I’ll look forward to seeing you soon.

John Sumser:            Okay, and this is John Sumser. You’ve been listening to the HR Examiner Radio show coming to you from Occidental, California. The sun is still out. The roses are still in bloom and I hope you have a great weekend. Thanks for tuning in, and thanks again Terry.

Terry Starr:                 You’re so welcome.

End transcript

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