In 2012, travel site Expedia wanted to create brand awareness in an original and engaging way.  They did this by launching “Find Yours” – a series of videos that followed the emotional journeys of real people. From Maggie Cupid’s flight to St. Jude’s Research Hospital to share her story of battling cancer to Artie Goldstein traveling across the country to attend his daughter’s same-sex wedding, Expedia aimed to tie their brand to feelings of boldness and discovery, rather than simply finding the best prices on air travel.

Qualcomm Spark, a technology company that makes the chips inside most of our phones, created a content marketing campaign when they realized many people had no idea what they did. By launching “Spark” – a blog with contributors such as Harvard technology professor Christopher Dede and Gizmodo/Engadget/GDGT founder Peter Rojas – they not only became a platform for stimulating conversation and a source for technology news, but they also exposed themselves to a whole new audience of “techie” talent.

Click here to find out how other prominent brands such as Red Bull, Coca-Cola and Intel are beginning to create content-focused marketing campaigns to create an emotional connection to their brand that people will want to share.


2012 was a big year for the world. Major events like the Presidential election, the Summer Olympics, and Superstorm Sandy all changed the way the world felt about and used social media platforms. After Barack Obama won, he tweeted a picture of himself hugging his wife Michelle. Shortly thereafter, more than 455,550 people had retweeted it.













When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast and residents found themselves completely in the dark, they used communal chargers to access Facebook in order to get news updates and connect with their families.

With so many people completely engaged in social networks, these events also created opportunities for brands to engage in conversations with consumers, while bringing their brand to life. But looking forward, 2013 has no major events occurring – no elections that might shape the future of the United States or a platform for the most talented athletes to compete for the title of being the best in the world. So how will brands engage without a shared agenda? Click here to read more about what brands can do to continue conversations in the coming year.

New Leads from LinkedIn

LinkedIn is launching new and improved products, tools and upgrades to measure brand power and to help build better connections. Over the next few months, LinkedIn users will begin to see their profile has a different look and feel. This new experience makes it easier for you to share your own professional story, see insights, and engage with people and companies in and outside of your network. They have also released a talent brand index which provides companies with a percentage score, based on data analysis, of how many people view and are interested in your page. This tool measures how many people are aware of your workplace and how attracted they might be at the opportunity of working there. Click here to learn about additional ways LinkedIn is evolving their platform and current tools to help you recruit.

Facebook Pages Go Global

Facebook has created a new Page for global brands. Global Pages allows your brand to provide a localized experience while still allowing the user to remain a part of the global community. For instance, if you log on to Walt Disney Studios in Ireland, you will see a localized cover photo, profile photo, important dates, Apps and “about” information, but if you log in from the USA, you will be directed to a US-based page. Plus, it’s all under one URL, so for social media campaigns you would only need to provide one destination. Facebook plans to later include country-level fan counts so brands will be able to track each market’s visibility, allowing them to benchmark themselves against other brands who are doing this well. Click here to see how this new Facebook page can help your brand identity in a global capacity.

Authenticity Wins Fans

Consumers crave honest brands – and social media provides the most transparent outlet for brands to show who they are and what they stand for. Brands are built on the business’ values, so creating content that truthfully portrays those moral standards is a great way to build brand advocacy and win loyal fans. In this era of instant communication and content sharing, honesty is the best policy. Footwear company, Timberland, is a good example. They used their social platforms to own up to their failure of meeting greenhouse gas-reduction goals as well as their corporate dedication to improve their factory conditions. Click here to read more about why honesty will get you ahead with your fans and to see what other companies, like Ben and Jerry’s, are doing to show their transparency.

The ideas that drive employer marketing and internal communications are based on a 20th Century paradigm: we’ll define what we want people to think, and then find an interesting way of pitching that to them. And this came about because these ideas were appropriated from the world of consumer marketing.

When the web came along in 1993, nothing much changed, as early web content was still fundamentally people or organisations talking about themselves. What’s changed in recent years is the explosion of user generated content – unofficial people who share unofficial opinions with everyone they know and many they don’t, about everything they do and buy. And where they work.

This challenges the idea of “brand guidelines” or “corporate messaging,” as most of what’s written about you won’t be following these – whether it’s an employee tweeting that their annual review was a waste of time, or an unsuccessful applicant writing about their interview in a forum. And for most employers, the majority of applicants will be unsuccessful.

There are a substantial number of people in the world with an opinion about you as an employer, and most of them don’t work for you, and won’t ask your permission. It includes everyone who works for you, everyone who has worked for you, everyone who’s applied, and everyone who’s just thought about it. And many people who merely know one of those people well.

You don’t own the web, and you can’t dictate your brand.

Many employers find this a worrying trend, as it opens them up to criticism, which may be unfair. But too often these are the same employers who inhibit other people – the ones who work for them and are happy – from putting the counter-case by imposing tight restrictions. The more you encourage people to give honest and personal opinions about you, the more likely it is that accuracy will rise.

This does of course mean that you have to be ready for fair negative comments to emerge. No employer offers the perfect employment experience to everyone, but if people know what it’s really like to work for you, is that necessarily a bad thing? People who apply anyway will know exactly what they’re signing up to, rather than leaving after three months because the reality didn’t match the marketing.

This offers an unprecedented opportunity to change fundamentally the relationship between employer and employee, and between recruiter and target market. It’s going to be a very different relationship, and a far more honest relationship – and you’re going to benefit from that.

It’s easier than it’s ever been for you to really engage with your workforce – whether it’s understanding how they feel, fixing problems or generating ideas. Likewise, it’s simpler than ever to find out what the outside view is. Try searching for “I used to work at…” to see what people actually say about you as an employer.

It no longer makes sense to think of a small group of specialists and consultants defining the employment brand. The employment brand is defined by a huge collective of people who can’t and won’t be controlled. What you can do is match your official position with the best of what’s said unofficially, and do so in a way that’s authentic and verifiable. As to the ‘worst’ of what’s said unofficially, you could ignore it. But you could also take the opportunity to improve it, or perhaps even accept it and talk about it? Not everyone is looking for the same work-life balance, for example, and you’d give credibility to the positive things you do offer by admitting some unavoidable drawbacks.

A few basic steps

We think there are a few general principles to follow, although what you’ll ultimately end up doing about it will depend on what you find:

Understand your audience. You have a good sense of the technical or professional competencies you’re looking for, but you also need to understand behaviours, motivators and preferences. Start by establishing what makes employees thrive, then look for people like them.

Identify your EVP. It’s the honest, simple answer to “Why should the people we want to recruit want to work for us rather than anyone else?” If people do choose you, the answer exists.

Review your ‘customer’ experience. What does applying to work for you feel like? What happens when you reject someone? What’s the reality of the working environment? What do you do when someone leaves? All of these will be talked about when you’re not there.

Gain support. Actively engage everyone in your workforce in what you’re doing. People already doing the job will explain it most convincingly, and the way a recruiting manager conducts interviews will have a bigger impact than your careers site.


This article was published in HR Magazine.