As social media use matures, social media presence is becoming crucial to effective employer branding, but it is only one part of your overall company branding and communications. It is important to ensure consistency and alignment between social and other communications, not least because both will show up in searches. Inconsistent messages could seriously undermine your brand. Here are a few things to bear in mind.
People want to work for an organisation that they have heard of, and that they trust. Visibility and interaction online is a key part of building this reputation and trust. If some elements of your communications undermine or contradict others, that won’t build trust. It is essential to view social media as a joined-up part of your communication strategy, sharing common messages and values with other areas.
This also means that social media needs to be a part of your overall operations. Until fairly recently, social media was not seen as a key part of communications or marketing. It was often the function of a small and isolated team, set apart from the rest of the company. This is no longer feasible. Employee- and candidate-facing social media needs to be fully integrated with other aspects of employer branding, and driven by the core HR function, just as customer-facing social media must be integrated with marketing.
Everything that you do is part of your branding and needs to be consistent. If you’re trying to brand yourself as a top creative organisation, you can’t afford to have boring job advertisements or standard content. You will be judged on everything that you put out there, by employees, potential employees and customers alike. The big picture is the only one that matters.
Reputation is hard to win and easy to lose, and the ‘one-click’ generation are happy to go elsewhere. Information is freely available online about your competition, and about you. Brand loyalty, including employer brand loyalty, is harder to build when search costs are minimal because all the effort is online. It is much easier to go elsewhere when you don’t have to leave your desk to do so. Get it wrong, and you will lose the opportunity to engage with good potential employees.
Tailored messaging is crucial to win over the ‘one-click’ generation. The general principle for those who grew up in a ‘one-click’ world is that they expect to find information that is highly specific to them. Only once ‘hooked’ with that will they widen their search to look at the whole company.
This means that you have to segment your audience, and speak to them as groups. Specific information may be irrelevant to the majority of the audience, but it is vital for each group. There is a risk, of course, that you may make people work too hard for the information, but that’s a small risk compared to the rewards of segmenting and specific messaging.
Engagement can start long before formal recruitment. Digitally savvy candidates and potential candidates will almost certainly have found your online and social presence long before you ever post a job advertisement. Scheduled events like TweetChats provide an opportunity to engage with them and improve the ‘recommendation engine’. A warning, however: you’ll need to start small, as this type of event is not easy to coordinate.
Engagement is far superior to ‘broadcasting’. Broadcasting, or the pushing out of information that nobody reads, is the social media trap for the unwary. Engagement gives better search results, higher Klout scores and significantly more influence, and is crucial for both customers and employees.
There will be mistakes, but education and training will help. When you give people autonomy to interact directly with the ‘outside world’, without providing ‘lines to take’, you empower them. But you also open your company up to potential mistakes: sharing commercially-sensitive information, or simply people speaking without thinking first. It is almost inevitable that this will happen, but good training and education will help. The benefits of empowerment far outweigh the downside.
Ultimate ownership for social media profiling should rest with those who are accountable for outcomes. It does not matter whether the outcomes are sales or recruitment figures, employee churn or brand awareness, the responsibility for creating a social media presence that is ‘right’ should rest with those responsible for the outcomes. This is a crucial part of integrating social media and wider communications, and its importance should not be underestimated.