Due to its size, scope and scale potential social media have become appealing to businesses of all sizes across all industries around the world. Following a ‘wait and see’ period, companies are now seriously starting to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to connect and interact with current and potential employees. Successful use of social media has had a positive impact on employer brand equity for companies such as Starbucks, EMC, Sodexo, Cisco, Intuit, Coca-Cola, Zappos and Microsoft.
There is little left to debate about whether or not one should participate in social media. Companies, big and small, have acknowledged social media’s presence, and firms who do not have a Facebook page, Twitter account or LinkedIn group may now find themselves well behind their competition. However it still appears top executive are leaving the work to their colleagues further down the hierarchy.
So where should you begin in developing and leveraging your social media strategy to build employer brand equity? Below is a ten step approach to guide your program. Be patient if moving into social media for the first time. It will take time to find your sweet spot and begin experiencing a positive return on investment for your efforts.
1. Listen and observe
- Employ listening devices such as Google Alerts or Twitter Search, Buzzstream, Radian6 Glassdoor, Topix or RSS feeds to track conversations and instances associated with key words or your company.
- Follow some companies who are leading the way in leveraging social media. I suggest you follow and observe Zappos (1.6 million followers on Twitter), Southwest Airlines (1.6 million Twitter followers), Sodexo, Microsoft, Ernst and Young, EMC, and JetBlue Airways for starters. The follower numbers these companies attract are staggering and when you consider the cost, time and impact involved in reaching this many people using traditional media such as print and TV the opportunities for your employer brand are huge!
- Define your social media objectives and choose channels carefully. It is about quality of community not quantity. Growing too big too fast can place resource limitations on your team and result in dissatisfied community members.
- Understand how each channel provides a different dimension of engagement.
- Engage in new channels where the people you are trying to reach are already there.
- Master one channel then move onto the next one, start small and scale up as your company’s experience and engagement increases.
3. Empower others
- Empower people throughout your organisation to act as brand ambassadors.
- Spread engagement to employees beyond the social media team.
- Encourage employees to tap into social media to get work done.
- To scale engagement, make social media part of everyone’s job.
- Success in social media will be characterized by a concerted and collaborative effort between IT and all other business functions. that meets community needs and interests.
6. Find a sense of purpose or theme
- Once you are comfortable with how things are tracking find a sense of purpose and you will build a loyal following.
- Don’t try to be all things to all people, you will only confuse the community and cause them to switch off.
- Modularize and synchronize content across channels.
7. Build community
- Strong communities take time to build. Even Twitter wasn’t an overnight sensation, it took time to reach its tipping point and so will your community.
- Focus on the quality of interactions rather than on the number of fans, followers or noise you create.
- Remember content is no longer king, it’s about context!
- You need to be in it for the long haul and be guided by the proposition, what you do today has a pay-off tomorrow!
8. Engage with your community
- Open the platform to anyone and everyone including your client and customers to provide a holistic brand engagement experience.
9. Develop metrics and determine your return on investment
- Don’t forget the CFO! Without reliable metrics for your social media initiatives it is going to be difficult to secure investment for your strategy.
- Track relevant conversations, responses, customer relationships, and sales across social media platforms.
- Monitor and manage your online reputation.
- Continually review and prepare to change if your strategy isn’t getting traction
- Having a presence on social media sites will also organically boost your company’s online profile in search engines.
- Social media presents an enormous opportunity to improve employee engagement using tools that foster collaboration, sharing, authenticity and trust – KEY ingredients employees have been seeking for many years so I encourage you to embrace the social media revolution and start your journey now.
Brett Minchington is Chairman/CEO of Employer Brand International, a global authority, strategist and corporate advisor on employer branding (www.brettminchington.com). His new book Employer Brand Leadership-A Global Perspective is available at www.collectivelearningaustralia.com
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