Employer branding, talent attraction and brand recruitment
have always been high stakes fields, and largely predate social media. Now with the advent of content, social and inbound marketing, most companies start recognising the enormous potential these tools hold. Attracting more, more economically, more engaged, more relevant candidates. More companies are using social media to recruit employees (agents and HR alike – 92% of companies do according to staff.com) But here’s the thing: Social recruiting often still only focuses on LinkedIn through a transactional approach. Not on building authentic employer branding across multiple platforms, audiences and social channels. Dumping vacancies, making clichéd or self-promoting, or overly sanitised comments and getting lost in saturated white noise. Putting out a safe PR release and putting sponsoring money behind it.
Hiring through social media can guarantee you streams of higher quality candidates but here’s the kicker: It requires innovation and authenticity. Here are four companies getting it right and pushing the boundaries:
Amazon @ Tinder talent attraction:
When Tinder first entered into the scene it became the go-to app for simple hook-ups or long-term relationships (True story: I met my wife on it).
You might be wondering: “That’s barely the place where you most marketing managers would imagine they would build employer branding no?” Barely the place they would even dare pitch to their board, when it comes to that new digital marketing, inbound content marketing thing. However as is often the case with the digital world a creative approach can often open up some unexpected paths. Standing out tops blending in. Calculated risk authenticity tops safe and boring.
In a bid to recruit new engineers Amazon stepped outside of the box when they played an advertisement searching for new volunteers. Rather than displaying the profile of an actual person, what appeared to the surprised users was instead an advertisement from Amazon Web Services, listed of course as an Amazononian.
See the image, the idea was that those who were interested would swipe right. Social recruiting and well, let’s admit it, employer branding at the swipe of a screen.
It was a bold and original undertaking, but it’s all part of a recent ongoing trend. It also has a lovely feel of “walking the walk” when it comes to depicting themselves as an original, authentic, creative place to work. Which is probably something high up on the values of their core audience (here IT engineers).
What’s the bottom line? Though we could not find numbers to back this up, we can safely assume that this initiative generated an enormous amount of low-intent “top of the funnel” candidate generation. In some ways, recruitment has always been and will always be a numbers’ game. With a smart team of internal recs they must have worked through that enormous lead-gen (cand-gen) and whittled it down to some still substantial candidate pools of qualified candidates.
Of marketing context & social media platforms relevance
Engineers do date too. Simply put. We are often guilty of “over-targeting” context in my experience. Saying “Oh it’s Tinder it won’t work, it’s too personal” makes as much sense as this other common one: “We don’t advertise on FaceBook because it’s too personal we are a professional company, you don’t understand.” Well, the simple truth remains that every company’s CEO is on FaceBook these days. And that your online presence serves a simple purpose: Attract and nurture online through an 8-12 touches “funnel” from complete stranger, to visitor, to lead, to client, to promoter. You do that with social, with SEO and with paid / biddable media (AdWords, FB Ads, FB Pixel retargeting, etc.)
But to get to that general estimate of 8-12 touches after which the stranger will at least be a lead, advertising also works great. Especially FB Advertising obviously for the fantastical accuracy of the targeting, and the easy re-targeting of your site traffic with FB Pixel.
This is crazy. Please, let us all at least banish the old “We don’t use FaceBook because it’s too personal” cliché. It is a magnificent tool, in an authentic online communication, and it works for most companies.
According to some social media recruiting statistics and more people are using social media for their job searching and I don’t just mean the usual suspects like LinkedIn or twitter. Instead apps you wouldn’t normally associate with recruitment like Snapchat, which 12% of job seekers utilised, were being used to find applications. Great segue.
MacDonald’s: AR & digital engagement
♪ ♫ Picture yourself… At a McD’s… With a hairnet and a… salt-shaker… ♬ ♩
Using Snapchat’s Augmented Reality to good social recruiting purpose and targeted inbound candidates strategies.
81% that’s how many people, particularly millennials use Snapchat every month. In comparison Instagram attains a lower 23% and Facebook just 11%. Snapchat has in recent years become a craze amongst millennials entering into the workplace.
It’s an app that if properly utilised could gain a company a huge amount of access to the millennial market and the industry is now beginning to realise that.
Perhaps you wouldn’t expect the titan of the fast-food industry to bother. But MacDonald’s recently made use of video ads and “snaplications” to appeal to the young prospective employees on the app.
When reaching out to potential candidates you can no longer be the faceless organisation trapped high up in its stainless-steel tower. People expect and want now a human face, there is a reason why Richard Branson remains still the face and brand of Virgin rather than the company itself.
In an effort to build its employer branding and authenticity, MacDonald’s featured their employees talk about their experience in a quick 10 second ad.
They also made use of Snapchat’s unique abilities. If they showed an interest from the ad, the AR app would project them wear a virtual uniform. With the whole time a ten second pitch on why they would make a good employee for the company.
If nothing else the ad served as a fun diversion for people and showed MacDonalds in a more human and fun way than the general perception. That of a large but hard-working, low-paying work place.
Goldman Sachs: All about learning, music, education
Let’s talk change. FOREX trading. Caring. Money. Music. International Swaps and Options. Learning.
You like change and music? Well, you’ll love Goldman Sachs then. In an effort to improve its appeal and branding among millennials, GS also had to rattle their own cage. Maybe not immediately associated to as a “cool employer” (if you have a soul) by most millennials, they refreshed their social media activity beyond LinkedIn.
Social recruiting strategies need to be creative as a general best practice to stand out and get the most mileage. But in this case it may have been doubly so when your employer branding sits between criminal bankster and environmental disasters-enabler. A tough gig to replace in the mind of your target audience.
When your Google Suggest results for “Goldman Sachs scandal” gives you MULTIPLE RESULTS BASED ON YEAR, you know you’re in for a tough image to shake online.
Just promising obscene salaries just does not work anymore it seems. They had to overhaul their traditional recruitment to attract a more diverse group. To face off stiff opposition from Silicon Valley tech companies luring away talented graduates. And you have to admit that they managed to strike the right fulcrum, in this tricky balancing act.
Smartly enough, they do display a decent understanding of their online audiences by mentioning social slam-dunks such as “how would you increase the endowment of a University?” Or edgier, cooler, more startup-y topics such as “”What advice would you give a tech firm breaking into a new market?”
(Not talk to you?)
Want to know the best part? There is no mention of boring spreadsheets or pillaging a foreign economy by banking on their currency or anything. It’s all cool man, we’re dancing to spotify and everything! (And filling out a tiny application form). And you have to hand it to them, you wouldn’t normally associate Spotify among the list of social recruiting sites.
Authentic social communication and employer branding can be tricky
Here’s the deal: Authenticity is a core tenet of social / inbound marketing at large. So I hesitated to include this Goldman Sachs one in the list. But had to give it to them if at least for innovation and striking a great balance considering the branding they have to play with. I just wonder if there’s not cognitive dissonance here. I wonder on that GS one, how successful they will be at dissociating themselves from the steady stream of scandals that marred them and their so-called inspiration / beautiful vision / etc. From the Malaysian state fund, to the Lybian prostitutes. To cooking up the Greek national accounts when overseeing their accession to the EU. To the subprimes meta-scandal. You would think they might have more to talk about than just ensuring universities are better funded.
But hey I suppose we’re just jealous or cynical or something. Got to give them an A for trying though! It is a testament to the competitive world that the recruitment industry is currently in and how candidate driven it has become. The need for high quality talent is higher than it ever was and with the need to secure young blood. Goldman Sachs realised it needed to innovate its social media marketing strategy when it came to recruitment.
They therefore ran a series of advertisements on Spotify, rather than simply dumping their vacancies on LinkedIn alongside so many others. Playing not only audio but presenting a banner, Goldman Sachs stressed the positive impact on society its employees could have joining the investment company. Cue in links introducing the potential candidate to the different possibilities that existed at the company.
Alongside Spotify they also made use of Snapchat as part of their revamped campaign. Specifically targeting 50 schools that allowed them to directly reach out to the very potential employees in more engaging way. Bypassing somewhat LinkedIn’s expensive advertising costs and clunky interface that it has become.
Grubhub: Guerrilla marketing meets inbound
Less of a titan than MacDonalds or Amazon, GrubHub the food delivery app was looking for a new marketing intern they turned towards the app Snapchat to do so.
On the one hand they used Snapchat in a traditional mode, but with gusto. With such a bedrock of fun, engaging and simple but authentic sounding posts, they built a lot of goodwill, talent attraction and employer branding.
You will notice their normal content follows the core tenets of inbound marketing. It is consistent around an authentic tone (here, mischievous and witty). Providing value to the audience either concrete one (discount) or peripheral (humour). Visually compelling and directly engaging.
But it is for their specials, company news, and core company stories, that they may have struck the best note.
A bit of guerrilla marketing meets Company news
Announcing their IPO in live)
Rather than making a traditional advertisement GrubHub utilised Snapchats unique functions to both tell its story and present a challenge to the applicant. This was a particularly inventive way of recruiting. Not only original enough to attract the attention of potential candidates but was also a good way to screen candidates.
Don’t dump that vacancy, tell that story:
“Joining the conversation” or “Telling your story” all of these current expressions are being used liberally when it comes to social media. Admittedly, sometimes by horrifically misguided corporate parrots, like say the ill-fated “join the conversation” campaign by Pepsi. I mean… To pretend to be all hip to the social media scene and then… Produce an ad with Kendall Jenner (from meet the Kardashians) quelling a riot by offering some Pepsi to a few cops was a bit risqué (in a context of simmering tension n the US). But on top of it the whole segment reeked of cringe. Poorly acted crowds, Kendall apparently turning into PEPSI WOMAN! And then smearing the whole car-crash of an ad with “Join the conversation”… I mean… That’s off the charts lack of awareness about modern millennial marketing!
It belies the corporate suits who understand nothing of what is going on and just parrot what they read. Join the conversation with a deaf-mute corporate shill locked the basement of a Fortune 500 company spewing random social media cliché flotsam. Not “engaging” at all actually. If you are curious to know more about how that catastrophic campaign went on: not good. It yielded horrific negative sentiment for Pepsi (78%) and turned out to be very sticky. Recently spiked again in the wake of the Charlottesville riots.
Still the issue here was the fraudulent lack of authenticity, always a risky strategy if done too obviously. And still, you do need to tell YOUR story. Maybe the keyword here is “your” not just story. Your story means something else than a broad brochure-like consensus. It means something specific. An actual positioning. An actual voice.
Of creativity and cultural change
All of these examples show the potential that exists within social media marketing for recruitment. Under inventive leadership and proper campaign strategy, social media recruitment can grant any agency or HR department access to high quality candidates across a spectrum of backgrounds and skills. Cutting out the awkward clunkiness of LinkedIn and instead allowing you to directly speak to your candidate when searching for talent.
Most recruiters whether HR or agents need to be able to (be allowed to?) step away from punishing, transactional, immediate-gratification KPI’s. And favour storytelling and creativity, in order to build real online branding. Effective employer branding examples we see coming out time and again are almost all based around a creative approach. The successful ones consistently convey an authentic signal, and stand out to avoid drowning into content shock.
As these few examples illustrated, modern employer branding also requires a cultural shift where content and social media are not just that “thing you do after work once the real work is done”. An atmosphere where risk-taking is encouraged, within bounds, but encouraged. Where social media content can occasionally flop without an internal crisis.