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Putting Social Media at the Heart of Your Employer Branding Strategy

Let’s face it, social media is no longer new – and leveraging it in your business is no longer innovative. But it is only now taking centre-stage in employers’ efforts to strengthen their employer brands and win over candidates at the expense of the competition.

That this has taken some time to happen should in no way diminish the scale of the change that is underway. Until now, employer branding has largely been about visibility. How prominent is your brand in the market? Are you present at key industry recruiting events? Do you have campus representatives and brand champions in place at your most important graduate recruiting grounds? Do candidates hear disproportionately more about your company and its achievements than your competitors?

Against this backdrop, social media has truly shaken up the world of employer branding. Consider these facts for a moment:

  • Your brand’s exposure is no longer a function of your paid advertising budget and effectiveness, but of your influencer marketing and your earned media impressions
  • Your employer brand message is no longer controlled centrally, but is impacted by the actions of thousands of employees on social media
  • Candidates now form impressions not just from their exposure to your brand, but from the interactions they have with numerous champions, representatives and naysayers of your business.

That’s why corporate employers are increasingly investing in their social media presence – and employing specialists as part of their corporate recruiting teams to exploit these opportunities to the fullest degree possible.

Paid vs Influencer Marketing

Historically, employers have paid to have their employer branding messages seen by the desired audience – and indeed, paid advertising was the primary means of getting your employer branding messages out in the market. Today, things have moved on considerably. Firstly, employers are growing ever larger audiences of their own on social media – pools of talent with an interest in their company that the employer can reach at negligible cost.

This in itself is a significant power shift. Publishers are no longer the powerful gate-keepers to audiences that they once were. But we also mustn’t ignore the huge role that influencer marketing is now playing. By building relationships with industry influencers and brand advocates, employers can dramatically increase the reach of their messages. Reaching 20x more people than the company has followers is perfectly achievable if the right people are re-sharing your messages. That’s without paying to piggyback on the reach of mega-influencers, a route that some companies are now taking with eg. their SnapChat accounts.

Whilst paid advertising is an important element of social media marketing, dependency on paid media has diminished and that’s a change that we are unlikely to see reversed.

Employer Branding as a Sum of the Parts

If the ways that your employer branding messages reach candidates have changed, no less significant a shift is the decentralisation of control over employer branding. In today’s hiring market, every employee has the potential to influence would-be candidates. How they behave on social media – and how warmly they speak of your company – can have a significant aggregate effect on the perception of your employer brand. That’s before we even mention the impact of review sites, forums and the like – where perceptions are shaped in ways that the central recruitment marketing team find hard to mould.

That’s not the same as saying the organisation is powerless to influence how it’s perceived, however. Forward-thinking teams are empowering their staff to share pre-approved content on social media, giving them both the tools and the stream of content they need to represent the business. Granting staff the ability to change that messaging and give it their own personal spin adds greater authenticity still. Do you have this in place in your business yet?

Engagement and Social Listening Are Key

Consider for a moment that candidates around the world are being influenced today by the interactions they are having on social media. On one side they’re being impacted by the interactions they’re having with your current staff. On the other side, they’re also being influenced by comments from former staff, your business partners, influencers and naysayers.

Training around social media use and best practices in engaging with external audiences is certainly an area where your business can proactively impact how it is perceived. Knowing how to respond – and how to leverage opportunities on social media – is a key skill for companies to develop. An area that’s still relatively in its infancy, expect to see this kind of investment become more prevalent over the coming year or two.

No less important is the skill of social listening. This is important at both the centralised and the decentralised level. At the centralised level, does your recruitment marketing team have its finger on the pulse regarding what the market is saying about your business? When there’s a disparaging remark on social media, or a negative post on a review site, is your team immediately aware of this and do they know how to respond? No less important, is every opportunity to bolster the reach of favourable commentary being exploited – so that the message being seen in the market is overwhelmingly positive? Whilst at the decentralised level, do your staff know how to monitor what’s being said and done within their own networks on social media? Get this right and you have an army of company advocates constantly on the look-out for opportunities and threats to your employer brand.

Concluding Remarks

Putting social media at the heart of your employer branding strategy is something we expect to see more and more companies doing over the next years. Now is the time to be assessing how many of the ideas above are being implemented in your business – and to kick-start training and investment in the areas where you seem weakest. If you need help bringing on board a leader who can make this happen in your company, do reach out and we’d be happy to partner with you on such an assignment.

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