Welcome to the new frontier.
Social media is no longer viewed as a young person’s time-waster; instead, it has transformed into one of the most proliferate forms of communication today. While it’s true that more businesses embrace the use of social media, too many solely focus on speaking to customers and ignore a vital audience: their current and future employees.
How you present yourself as an employer on social media not only affects the perception of your employees and potential candidates, but can impact the relationship you have with customers. In the new age of accountability and transparency, your audience is constantly looking for better ways to make informed decisions. What they find online creates a multidimensional profile of who you are as an organization.
The Current Social Media Climate
Social media usage is soaring. Currently, 83% of Americans have a social media account (Hootsuite) and social media comprises 30% of all time spent online (Global Wed Index). Due to widespread adoption, a once leisurely novelty now blurs the lines between social, professional, and consumer spaces. Not only do people expect to find their friends online, but they expect to find the businesses they interact with on social media. Amongst Americans, 48% have interacted with companies or institutions on at least one social media network, and 28% would rather engage with a brand/organization on social media than visit a physical location (Hootsuite).
At the bare minimum, an employer should maintain a presence on these channels:
More savvy organizations will also typically adopt Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+… the list goes on and on.
Social media has a very personal approach in a relatively public space, creating a unique vortex of expectation centered on transparency, authenticity, presence, and accountability. How you use these channels as an employer can boost employee engagement, recruiting efforts, retention, and your overall image as a brand, which can further boost your reach to customers.
Beyond advertising, employers should use social media to:
- Display your culture
- Praise employees
- Address complaints and negative feedback
- Celebrate organizational accomplishments and employee achievements
- Announce changes
- Promote your blog or other expertise
Job Ad ≠ Presence
When you think of the relationship between employers and social media, most minds immediately jump to LinkedIn and job postings. While LinkedIn is an important and vital tool, your reach should stretch beyond this professional networking site. Strictly from a recruiting perspective, 93% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, but only 36% of jobseekers are actually active on LinkedIn (Jobcast). And among people who found their current job through a social network, 78% attributed their job to Facebook, while only 40% cited assistance from LinkedIn (Jobvite). In general, Facebook has a higher engagement rate: 70% of Facebook users engage daily compared to only 13% of LinkedIn users (Pew Research), and 83% of jobseekers are active on Facebook (Jobcast). An in-depth, multi-channel approach creates the presence you need.
The time has come to present yourself as a multidimensional entity, beyond your product or service. The inner workings of your organization are not only intriguing, but they speak to your competence and trustworthiness.
Leading with Transparency
Yelp has demanded a new level of accountability and transparency from businesses. Glassdoor has done the same with internal organizational policies and conduct. While this can feel detrimental to business, this actually strengthens it. Privacy is no longer a virtue, it is a caution sign to customers.
In this new era of vulnerability, a lack of online presence suggests you have something to hide. Your clients and customers want candid information on your services and your internal operations—even the nonfavorable reviews. (Too perfect of a reputation can imply bribery or tampering.) Referrals are consistently the best way to gain new business. Let the internet be your referral service. Perfect your service and address issues or complaints brought up online. This will give your clients and potential candidates a taste of the service they can expect.
For Your Employees…
Your social media movement should begin with your employees. They will be your first followers/friends, give your first shares and likes, and leave your best comments. Your employees will be your strongest testament for your employer brand and their presence will have the greatest influence on your potential candidates and client base.
According to Forbes, when employers encourage their employees to be active on social platforms, those employees are more likely to help increase sales. However, nearly 3 in 4 employees say their employer does not (or does not know how to) promote their employment brand on social media (Glassdoor). Meanwhile, 69% of jobseekers are more likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the culture and work environment, etc.).
How you engage your employees and how they engage with you will contribute to and strengthen your employer brand and overall reputation on social media. Glassdoor recommends utilizing social media as a tool for employee engagement through:
- Collaboration and visibility
- Employee feedback
- Motivational work environment
Alongside your advertisements, news updates, and other content, celebrate your employees (with their permission of course): tenure, accomplishments, who they are, the work that they do, and especially their contributions to your culture—individually and as a whole. Nearly one-third of employees would rather be recognized in a company-wide email from an executive than receive a bonus of $500 (BambooHR). Acknowledging your employees publicly can give them the recognition they crave.
Recognition often becomes a two-way street – when employees part of the company’s story, they actively participate in telling that story to others. Employees who feel connected will be eager to share your content online. This is key because employee involvement is crucial for an organization’s social media strategy to be effective.
Only 26% of Baby Boomers, 40% of Gen Xers, and 49% of Millennials follow their organization on social media (Modern Survey), and only 33% of employees post messages, pictures, or videos about their employer on social media without any encouragement from their employer (Weber Shandwick/KRC Research). Meanwhile, only 33% of employers encourage employees to use social media to share news and information about their work or employer (Glassdoor).
You must demonstrate that social media participation is a valuable behavior. Involve leadership and, without bribing, reward employees’ social media activity.
Demonstrating that your organization is successful (in a business and cultural sense), combined with the widespread influence of your employees and their pride, is attractive to your clients and future candidates. Your reputation will spread, and your customers and future candidates will get to know who they will be working with.
Culture Check, Purpose Reigns
Across your social media channels, culture and purpose should be your building blocks and your guidelines. All of your communication should express both.
Begin by defining your culture and your purpose. Culture is the personality of your organization based on a shared set of values and beliefs, while purpose is why your organization exists at all, distinguishing your business in a sea of corporate-ness. All of your communication should align with these two narratives.
If your culture is not brag-worthy yet, build and nurture it. If you share anything that is untrue or uncharacteristic, you risk backlash from your employees.
When employees share information about their employer on social media, it influences a concept known as BIRGing – or Basking In the Reflected Glory. People like to associate themselves with successful entities. It’s one of the reasons we wear hats with our favorite sports teams or shirts with our favorite bands. Employees reflect in the glory of their organization’s triumph and are eager to advertise shared success.
Social media also influences the brain’s reward system, inducing feelgood chemicals with every “like.” When value is defined by both sides – employer and friends – it boosts the ego and creates feelings of pride. Your employees will be eager to share and maintain their participation, but only if your organization defines social media activity as important first.
For Your Jobseekers…
What your employees say about your organization will have an effect on job candidates. Remember, this is a candidate’s market. Jobseekers have more options than you do. How your organization is perceived has more impact than what your recruiters boast.
Even if you don’t maintain a strong presence, jobseekers are still looking to your social media platforms for information. In the US alone, 14.4 million have used social media to search for a job, while 48% used social media to find their current job (Jobvite).
When jobseekers are on the prowl, 76% want details on what makes a company an attractive place to work, 59% use social media to research the company culture of organizations they are interested in (Jobvite), and 54% read company reviews from employees (Glassdoor). The information that they find – more so than what you present on company-sponsored pages – can be extraordinarily beneficial or drastically detrimental.
Glassdoor reports 84% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job, while 70% would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed (Corporate Responsibility Magazine).
Social media can even increase the number of high quality candidates you attract. Of companies that have implemented social recruiting, 42% say that their candidate quality has improved and 20% say it takes less time to hire (Jobvite). When they get a clear and candid picture of your workplace, candidates almost screen themselves.
However, nearly two in three say their current employer does not (or does not know how to) use social media to promote job openings (Glassdoor).
For Your Customers…
A third of Millennials say social media is one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses, while 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions (B2C).
How you treat your employees, and how you communicate that, matters to your customers. As potential customers Google your organization, they will come across employee feedback – both positive and negative.
Mistreatment of employees can be the ultimate PR blow, while support for employees can be the ultimate boost. When your employees are unsatisfied and unengaged, they won’t deliver the best service to your customers. Companies that excel in customer experience have 1.5 times as many engaged employees (Temkin Group).
Your customers want to hear what your employees have to say. Customers are also more likely to trust in-house technical experts than CEOs, reinforcing the overall credibility of a company’s strategy (Edelman). When they share your organization’s content or praise the organization, your customers trust them. Your employer brand complements your consumer brand, and how you advertise it on social media shapes both.
8 Socially Conscious Steps
Your social media strategy should be deliberate, not an afterthought.
1. Build a strategy
Eighty-four percent of companies believe a clearly defined strategy is key to achieving employer branding objectives (Employer Brand International Global Research Study). Before you post anything, define your culture, your purpose, your employer brand, how you can best express it, and who is going to oversee the process.
2. Prepare your website to greet them
All of your social media will lead back to your website, so make sure your site is consistent with your social media channels in regard to branding, message, and content.
3. Involve leadership
Your senior leaders should be your most prominent social media advocates. If you want your employees to be involved, your leaders will set the tone. They should actively post and share content – both business and culture-based.
4. Provide guidelines for employees
Many of your employees may not even know where to begin when supporting their organization online: 14% have posted something about their employer on social media that they wish they hadn’t (Weber Shandwick/KRC Research). While you cannot force your employees to praise your organization, or keep them from speaking their minds, you can provide general guidelines about what can be helpful to share regarding the organization and what information should not be shared. On more professional platforms like LinkedIn, create stricter guidelines and boilerplates to maintain a consistent message. For example, no one in your organization should create their own job titles such as labeling themselves as a “guru” or “ninja” if, in fact, that is not their professional job title. Be sure to also create post templates to easily share things like job postings or events.
5. Share your expertise
The world wants to know what you know. Don’t just share your business expertise – share your expertise on corporate culture. Sharing tips will not make you weaker, but will position you as an industry leader and your employees as experts.
6. Incentivize employee social media involvement
There is a 50% increase in employees recommending company’s products or services when their employer encourages social sharing (Weber Shandwick, Employees Rising, 2014). Reward social media activity and recognize your social media super stars.
7. Designated personnel
Having too many cooks in the kitchen can muddle your message. Have designated team members focus on responding to both customer and jobseeker inquiries, complaints, and praise in a timely fashion.
8. Expand your presence to multiple channels
Utilizing more casual tools like Facebook and Instagram can have a more widespread influence. All 100 of the top global brands maintain at least one company YouTube channel, and more than half (27 of 50) of CEOs in top global companies have appeared in a company video (B2C). While it seems most logical to predominantly maintain a presence on LinkedIn, a multichannel approach is important.
Although we just emphasized a multichannel approach, your LinkedIn should still be strong. Valerie Killeen is the Social Media Manager for Roth Staffing Companies (parent company of About Talent). She manages more than 100+ social media pages and educates the entire organization on best practices.
Check out her tips on getting the most out of LinkedIn as an employer:
Link In with LinkedIn Company Pages
Claim and develop your (free) LinkedIn company page. Company pages are an excellent platform to share news, press releases, key hires and special events. Additionally, it allows your employees to formally connect their profile to your company, and further your employer branding efforts by sharing updates exponentially, with their respective networks.
Use Social Media to celebrate your employer brand and what makes your company unique.
Do you wear Hawaiian shirts on Fridays? Do you decorate desks for Birthdays? Do you have an Ugly Sweater Party for the Holidays?
If so, take a fun team photo and share it on your Company’s social platforms. People love looking at photos of other people, so don’t be afraid to post away!
In the simplest sense, let the company be its authentic “self.” Your social media presence does not have to be packaged and commercialized, it just has to be real. As an organization, you might already be extraordinary – and social media can help make sure the world knows it.