Businesses cannot afford to ‘dabble’ with social media and hope to see the right results from their activity. Social media is no longer a simple ‘nice to have’. It has become a core channel of communication and engagement, rivalling and even exceeding the power of print communications in many marketing fields. Of course, the majority of businesses were taken by surprise by the speed of this transition to the digital world from print and the rapid call for integration of online and offline communications. But the most forward-thinking organisations are looking to capitalise on the opportunities offered.
The Early Days
This scene may be familiar: a business learns about social media, fears it and bans its employers from using it during working hours. It then starts to dabble in the main channels and pushes out plenty of information to followers, regardless of who they are. Meanwhile, staff start using smartphones at work to get around the ban. However, big consumer brands around the world are engaging with these new channels in exciting new ways to build their brand – creating brand ambassadors, forums and private online communities, using feedback and interaction, competitions and other viral methods to reach existing and new customers and have ‘rich’ conversations and brand interactions with them in this digital space.
Most businesses now realise that they need to move fast to capitalise on the changing world of digital. Employee and consumer behaviours are changing and digital technologies are fast becoming integrated into every aspect of our lives. What does this mean for graduate brands? Any strong brand is predicated upon different aspects: its physical availability – or market reach – and the mental image or association that it creates. For recruitment purposes, the brand will work to provide a consistent association about what it is like to be part of your business as an employee, stakeholder or even investor. Your social-media strategy will work towards gaining an expanded market share and reaching your identified target audience to communicate with them effectively, using a range of external and internal channels.
Knowing Your Brand Values
Today brand managers for employment experiences need to understand what their distinctive ‘employer brand’ values are. For example, Google is known for its working environment and employee benefits. Businesses need to understand their own values and make sure they reinforce them in their communications to position the company correctly in the mind of the graduate. These values might be a rewards package, working culture, opportunity for advancement, corporate social responsibility policy, relaxed working environment, opportunities to travel or something entirely different. Look at the results of your recent staff-satisfaction surveys to see what your employees are telling you or carry out some research to uncover more information.
Using the Right Media
New social-media platforms are emerging all the time, but the main ones are still Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Regardless of your chosen platform, your engagement needs to be authentic and transparent; as everything that you post on to a social-media platform will be visible and shared by the online community. This means that careful decisions need to be made about who in your organisation can post to employer brand accounts and what your internal management processes are for ensuring quality and consistency of message. Remember that social networks ultimately exist to create relationships, so avoid ‘pushing’ messages in the old-fashioned way. Seek instead to inform, share and engage.
Other Do’s and Don’ts
Remember that social-media development will take time and energy to get right. It needs to form part of your strategic HR plan and resources must be allocated to it accordingly. This is no longer the world of push marketing – it is now a client-responsive and ever-changing online business world which requires skill and transparency to negotiate. Seek to establish good online relationships and integrate your recruitment strategy with the employer and company brand. This is an ideal chance for the marketing and HR teams to work together, with the support of the PR and internal communications teams where these exist.
Understand and define your objectives for your social-media recruitment activity. It should promote your values and employer proposition, reach new candidates through target marketing and messaging, allow your employees to act as company ambassadors and facilitate peer recommendations, build long-term relationships and enter into conversation with potential new staff.
Develop a Strategy
Plan ahead and really look into the online world. Monitor social media to see what content is being generated by users, set up Google Alerts to find out what people are already saying about your company and dependant where you are in the world use Glassdoor to track comments from former employees. Remember that knowledge is power. From this point, plan your objectives and goals and establish your key messages from the employer recruitment perspective. Establish which channels you want to use. For example, 66% of FTSE 100 businesses choose to use Twitter, but research from People Management shows that this channel is often neglected within the employer brand strategy. Don’t miss the opportunity; Twitter has 100 million users, of whom 50% log on daily.
Set up a good Twitter page with a clear logo and an attractive background. Schedule tweets and only allow a limited number of people to manage the account. Establish guidelines about what can and cannot be said. Facebook is a great channel for building a business presence and engaging with ‘likes’ and followers, sharing content and delivering targeted online advertising. Allow your ambassadors to shine here. LinkedIn is the third main platform and known for its strong recruitment slant, so start groups and conversations, make comments and be active in your target community.
In short, social media has (whether we like it or not) become a huge part of the business world and can be a simple, convenient way to broadcast the brand values of your company. It is of upmost importance however, that social media management is not taken lightly. Presence should be consistent in look and feel to the rest of your marketing and communication, so the high standards of Brand Activation followed for other channels must be followed here, even if the communication itself is, by nature, transient. This is one area of your Employer Brand where you can be freed from agency support for delivery, and responsibility be placed in the living breathing exponents of your EVPs.
Now there really is no excuse to shy away from social media!
Phil Owers has spent the last 17 years working with the world’s best known global brands to help them attract and retain the very best talent. He recognises and understands the large amount of time and money that is invested in the development of an Employer Brand, and that that investment is at risk every time the brand is deployed.