Clara Shih: Social Media Tips from a Software and Branding Expert

April 12 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Automated is the New Normal

I had an idea in 2010 that my friends thought was crazy and lazy. My dream was to have my groceries delivered to my door. Now, that idea is a reality. Of course, I instantly thought that I should’ve jumped at my idea because now I realize I could’ve made millions!

You’ve been there, right? Assuming that an idea, even if it’s the first of its kind, is all it takes to build a successful company is silly. We all know that it takes a lot more than a dream to make something a reality. Besides, the idea of online grocery delivery services basically started when the Internet did. (But I’ll still take credit for it).


That being said, a stellar idea that stands out from the rest is instrumental in creating a loyal following and building a brand. Another key component? A website that works. A tech feature that works, every single time. 49 percent of companies use something called marketing automation, which means software takes care of rote jobs like email and social media tasks. It’s one of those things that can be super helpful for your biz or, if not done well, can totally turn your customer off.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Systems

When you’re called one of the most powerful women entrepreneurs and one of the “most creative people,” you’re kind of a big deal. That’s Clara Shih I’m talking about. Born in Hong Kong and now a San Francisco leader taking the tech world by storm, Clara says her future’s often inspired by the past.

Clara is the CEO of Hearsay Systems, a cloud software company that’s responsible for the kind of automation I explained earlier, only specifically for financial and insurance businesses, like SIFMA. Hearsay is known for personalization aided by advanced AI. Back in 2012, Clara made it her mission to go beyond the tech world and get a glimpse inside how other companies operate.

Before joining Hearsay Systems, Clara led a life of wanderlust: visiting Tibet and Morocco and India and, well, you name it. India, in particular, gave Clara pause, as it is home to a booming technological metropolis set against centuries of people struggling to make a living. There’s something special about Clara taking the time to engage in learning outside of their industry or even comfort zone.

In only a year or two, Clara’s biz has doubled its number of customers and has brought in more than $50 million in funding. Of course, it’s not just airplanes and chic Parisian bistros for Clara. At the heart of her success is having a darn good product.

Clara says there are a few ways in which companies don’t understand social media, and for all you lady bosses out there, listen up: Businesses who thrive on platforms like Facebook and Instagram understand how social media is a place to participate. Engaging with followers actively is crucial. One of the ways in which to do this? Clara calls it branding the staff, like posting a photo of your employee on their recent vacay with a fun caption, or a list of an employee’s top favorite John Cusack movies.

As a digital pioneer, Clara appears to be the kind of grounded, big-dreaming woman we need in tech.


Chinese entrepreneur and one of the wealthiest women in the world, Zhou Qunfei, said:

"I think it's important not to get carried away when you are successful - and not to let yourself feel gloomy when times are bad."

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