Interview with Penny Wilson, Chief Marketing Officer at Hootsuite

Penny Wilson, CMO at Hootsuite
[mnky_team name=”Penny Wilson” position=” Chief Marketing Officer at Hootsuite”][/mnky_team]
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[mnky_testimonial_slider][mnky_testimonial name=”” author_dec=”” position=”Designer”]“Social media management technologies need to keep pace with the increasing adoption of social across job functions.”[/mnky_testimonial][/mnky_testimonial_slider]

On Marketing Technology

Tell us a little bit about your role at Hootsuite and how you got here.

I’m the chief marketing officer at Hootsuite, where I focus on improving the customer journey and experience across the entire organization. I began my career in the financial services industry, working in IT at Merrill Lynch and transitioned into marketing enterprise software. I served as the CMO at Macromedia and Juniper Networks, focusing on creating a customer-centric approach to marketing.

My career has been focused on helping companies align their technologies with customer’s needs – which coincidentally, is an absolute priority at Hootsuite. I met with Hootsuite CEO, Ryan Holmes, and learned more about the company’s focus on helping organizations create human connections at scale, which immediately caught my interest. My focus for the year is helping our customers understand how they can use social and Hootsuite throughout their organization to impact their bottom line.

MTS: How do you see the social media management market evolving over the next few years?

The social media management market is constantly evolving. Businesses are relying on social channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to communicate with their customers at a deeper and more personal level. We’re also seeing social used across the organization from marketing to sales, customer service, and more.

Social media management technologies need to keep pace with the increasing adoption of social across job functions. From social marketing to social selling, our solutions must adapt to social’s rapidly evolving needs. For example, to combat the rapid decline of organic reach, marketers are investing in paid social advertising strategies. To meet this need, Hootsuite acquired AdEspresso, to enable marketers to easily manage Facebook and Instagram advertising from a single platform. As social matures, marketers will need to be able to quantifiably justify how social impacts the bottom line. Hootsuite acquired leading social analytics company LiftMetrix to meet that need.

It’s extremely important for social media management platforms to connect with the customers using existing technologies. We have hundreds of best-of-breed partners and applications in our open ecosystem and plan to continue the momentum. Our open ecosystem helps to boost the adoption of social across the entire organization by integrating with the technologies that our customers are already familiar with.

MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?

Video is going to continue to play a larger and larger role in business. Social video is evolving and growing at a rapid pace. Companies are tapping into live video capabilities, such as Facebook Live, to connect with customers and turn them into deeper brand advocates.

MTS: What factors should a startup consider before deciding to integrate a social media management platform into their stack?

Regardless of size, organizations should consider how to relate to their customers to the best of their ability, with social being a key component. A recent Harris poll, sponsored by Hootsuite, shows that more than four out every five Americans (83 percent) have a social account, and nearly a third of Americans who have a social media account would rather engage with a brand or organization on social media than visit a physical location.

As social continues to become a huge part of how businesses reach their customers, a social media management platform like Hootsuite helps to simplify the process. Hootsuite can help businesses gain valuable customer insights and strengthen relationships, increase brand awareness and loyalty, generate leads, increase sales and create a competitive advantage.

MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?

I usually watch for startups in specific categories versus specific companies.  Right now I keep track of startups who are innovating in AI and marketing as well as neuroscience.

MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?

A few marketing tools we’re using in 2017 include:

– Marketo, for marketing automation. Marketo leads can be created directly from Twitter and Facebook activity discovered through Hootsuite. We are also now using Marketo for our ABM needs
Lattice Engines for Predictive Scoring and ABM account selection
Demandbase for targeted ABM advertising and various data enrichment activities
– High Spot for sales enablement
Zendesk, which can be used through Hootsuite to create customer service tickets.

Our MarTech stack is robust and continuously evolving to take advantage of advances in technology and to keep up with the pace of our growth.

MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)

One of our standout digital campaigns was our Social Trends campaign which covered the top five social media trends for 2017. This was a thought leadership campaign that included a global webinar, microsite, social advertising, vertical-specific content, and sales enablement materials.

The campaign was aimed at marketing directors, strategists, and managers in enterprise organizations. Our goal was to drive leads.

The campaign began with our editorial team. Social is always changing—so our customers look to us to help them prioritize their strategies and make sure they aren’t being left behind on new opportunities. We interviewed experts, analyzed data, and built a compelling narrative that was supported by global data.

With this core story, we were able to repurpose it to extend our reach and impact. For example, we partnered with We Are Social, a global social media agency, and released Digital in 2017, a report of social media and digital trends around the world. We expanded the original webinar content with follow-up guides, social ads, and a Facebook Live event. We also ran a training event for our sales team and built sales enablement materials, helping sales people tell this story to our customers.

The campaign was successful as it allowed us to take one story and produce multiple types of content that appealed to a global audience. The Social Trends campaign exceeded our expectations for traffic, leads, and net-new revenue.

MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

There’s a lot of potential for AI to be integrated into social platforms. Hootsuite has some basic AI that helps optimize different things behind the scenes, but it’s an area that we’re currently exploring.

By 2018, Gartner predicts that 20 percent of all business content will be authored by machines. Some ways we’re anticipating AI playing a role in the marketing world is through automating high-quality enterprise content at scale. This has the potential to not only help save time, but also deliver a better customer experience; AI could potentially find patterns in data and help spot customer trends quickly. At the end of the day, it’s the people that matter. Marketing leaders must take into account this human connection and how we can use social media to connect with each other on a broader scale.

How I work:

MTS: One word that best describes how you work.


MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I can’t live without my iPhone, my Ipad, and my laptop.  My life revolves around those three devices on which I have many apps that help me organize my life, my work and things I enjoy like social, news and health.

MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

My smartest productivity hack is to get up early and exercise every morning.  It is worth setting that alarm for 5:30 every day.  Gives me energy, reduces stress and makes me happy.

MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

On my iPad I read all my business publications and business books.  I am presently reading Winning with Data: Transform Your Culture, Empower Your People and Shape the Future.  I also love to pick up a physical copy of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) for when I travel.

For pleasure I am driven by my book club’s choices.  I have a personal passion for neuroscience, and stories about people who think differently are my favorites.

MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t be afraid to fail. Advice from my Dad.  It has always helped me try new things and learn new things.

MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

Listening. Effective listening is a really important trait.  Listening to your customers can lead to substantial improvements in your business.  And listening to your employees is key to productivity, culture and ultimately profitability.

MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Melinda Gates

MTS: Thank you Penny! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Penny is a senior marketing and operating executive with over 30 years of international experience in the technology industry. She has Proven track record of delivering business growth through strong customer focus and building powerful teams. Penny has worked at Cisco, Merrill Lynch, and Macromedia in the past.


Hootsuite is the most widely used social media management platform. Their battle-tested technology, extensive ecosystem, and social DNA help organizations create human connections at scale.

[mnky_heading title=”About the MarTech Interview Series” link=”|||”]

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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