Ask the Expert: How One Top CMO is Mastering Social Media, and You Can Too

Become a social leader with these tips from Margaret Molloy, Top 5 Most Influential CMO on Social Media

May 5, 2015

It’s no secret that engaging in social media pays dividends. From attracting top talent to closing deals, socially engaged companies are distancing themselves from conventional companies in their industries.

And their secret to success? Top-down engagement.

From research conducted with Altimeter Group, we know that executives lead the way and set the standard for social engagement. When they do – and when they also empower their employees to be socially engaged – their companies are 40% more likely to be perceived as competitive, 57% more likely to get increased sales leads, and 58% more likely to attract top talent.

Margaret Molloy, Global Chief Marketing Officer and Head of New Business at strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale, is a prime example of this new standard. She is one of the most socially engaged CMOs, recognized by Forbes as a Top 5 Most Influential CMOs on Social Media and a Must-Follow Marketing Mind on Twitter. She is also a prominent voice on LinkedIn, publishing content on a regular basis and championing LinkedIn as an essential platform for any CMO to master.

I had the privilege to interview Margaret about how she masters social media and about her advice for others looking to grow in the discipline. Read on to find out her keys to social mastery, the skills she believes are needed to succeed in marketing today, plus what she looks for in new talent when building a modern marketing team.

Meet Margaret Molloy, Top 5 Most Influential CMO On Social Media 

Deanna: Margaret, you’ve been quoted numerous times championing the importance of marketing leaders getting “off the sidelines” and embracing the fact that “social is a contact sport.” Clearly, you practice what you preach. I’m curious…

How did you get started embracing this wonderful thing called social media, and how did you start ingraining social into your day-to-day as a CMO?

Margaret: My motivation for embracing social media is to listen as well as participate in the conversations that are animating markets. As a CMO and modern marketer, a fundamental part of my job is to identify market dynamics and appreciate the conversations clients are having with each other. This perspective helps my team anticipate the most engaging content to create; adopt the appropriate tone; place the content in the places where clients are congregating and sharing; and, ultimately, focus all our marketing and business development efforts around client relevance. Social media is one powerful channel that helps us resonate with clients and influencers alike. To me social is not optional. It is an essential part of my job as a marketing leader.

What has been key to embracing “social as a contact sport” for you?

Margaret: By asserting social media is a contact sport, I mean social media requires being personally involved. Simply put, you are not going to learn to play football unless you get on the field. Social media is about being human. In this digital landscape, social media is the most human form of interaction we can have. Once we accept that social is an ongoing conversation and not a speech that is scripted, we throw away the shackles of a controlled mindset and that’s the key to opening our minds to natural and enjoyable participation. In the final analysis, for me it’s about participating in this platform in a natural way and taking personal ownership of my participation.

In your opinion, what skill is most important for modern marketers to hone to succeed in social media marketing today?

Margaret: As successful marketers, we have progressed because we are typically effective at problem solving, we are good at spinning a story, and we’ve learned to delegate well. However, those skills can hold us back in social because embracing social is not about crafting a message, it’s not about finding solutions; it’s not about delegating to the team. Achieving impact with social is about listening, asking relevant questions, sharing useful information and personally contributing to conversations. It’s not about tweeting out talking points.

Let’s talk about talent. As CMO, you’ve built a brilliant marketing team at Siegel+Gale and have also led several marketing teams in former roles. What package of skills do you look for in the talent you hire?

Margaret: For me, great marketers combine the following skills:

  1. They are curious. Curious people ask great questions and actively listen to the responses. Being curious about consumer behavior is at the heart of great marketing and it is a reliable predictor of adaptability and career progression.
  2. They are analytically minded and action oriented. The ability to understand patterns and to act on that insight is crucial.
  3. They are story builders. In modern marketing, we need to evolve from storytellers to story builders. Marketers no longer own the story. We may put out part of the story and allow others to shape it. Great marketers are learning how to do this very well.

Last question: Rising marketing stars are looking to leaders like you on LinkedIn for how they can succeed in their own careers. What three tips would you give them?


  1. Become an A+ communicator. Build your listening muscle as well as your writing and creating muscles. And never neglect internal communications with peers and team members.
  2. Be unstoppable. Develop a bias for action. Be accountable for achieving results.
  3. Be a simplifier. No one has time to waste. Simplicity is about elegant ideas and solutions. Your ability to simplify will set you apart.

You can get more tips from Margaret Molloy in her post on Forbes, Five Commitments for CMOs Who Want to Rock Social Media.

Want to rise to the top of the social revolution with CMOs like Margaret Molloy? Here at LinkedIn we’ve created a playbook specifically designed for top executives to help you drive deeper engagement with your customers, employees and peers. Download the Executive Playbook and discover 12 steps to becoming a social leader today.