Simply post job ads and wait for the right applicants? Those days are over in many industries. Companies today should know what their values are and use them to build their employer brand. Employers can create touchpoints on the candidate journey with relevant content on appropriate social media channels. Social CEOs and dedicated corporate influencers also strengthen an employer's brand.
People wanting to change careers usually plan the move carefully. This includes thoroughly informing themselves about the potential employer in advance. Besides job advertisements and their website, an employer's social media channels are an important source of information.
Applicants typically look for their new employer and future colleagues on the social networks where they are regularly and willingly active.
It's long been an employee market in some professions. Companies not present on social media – or those represented in a perfunctory way – don't seem concerned about a shortage of skilled workers. If you're looking for IT specialists or consultants, nurses or craftspeople, you have to make an effort as an employer. But how can you, as a company, stand out from your competitors? For this, you need to build a distinctive employer brand.
An employer brand authentically shows which values are lived in the company. Human faces are particularly good at conveying the values and strengths of the company. That's why the strategy of building up committed corporate influencers as brand ambassadors has proven successful.
This strategy works especially well when a social CEO shows themselves on social media and courageously takes on new things. Ideally, the topic spreads top-down – provided the management is convinced by social media and sets a good example. A grassroots movement can also be successful, however.
First the strategy, then the funny dance videos
Anyone diving into employer branding without a strategy shouldn't be surprised when the success they desire fails to materialize. Before launching on one or more social media platforms, a thorough analysis is essential. This step includes defining and understanding the target group.
Demographic criteria such as age, gender or level of education play a role here. With regard to social media, it's also important to find out what language people speak and what formats they prefer. By language, for example, we mean youth language versus somewhat more technical or serious language. In terms of formats, you should explore possible preferences of video versus image or longer texts versus infographics.
On average, younger people prefer short videos and stories to long texts. Your specific target group may well be different, which is why I recommend working with personas. It's also a good idea to experiment with different formats through trial and error.
Target group: Where are you?
Which platforms should companies be present on to strengthen their employer brand? Classic professional networks like XING and LinkedIn seem to be predestined for this, don't they? With around 20 million users each in the DACH region, these channels are undoubtedly important. Many people hang out there to keep in contact with current or former colleagues – and to reorient themselves professionally.
But how useful is an engagement on LinkedIn or XING for companies when they're looking for trainees, students or young professionals in general? Youths and young adults don't always have a LinkedIn profile and, even if they do, they may only be active on such business platforms sporadically.
As soon as you have a more concrete idea of your target group, you should find out where they're most likely to be found. For the under-25 age group in particular, it makes sense to take a closer look at platforms like TikTok, Twitch, Instagram or Snapchat.
An employer brand should deliver what it promises
There's one more important question to answer in your company before you jump into social recruiting on one of these vibrant platforms. Do the corporate culture and the way you communicate within your company match your external image? In other words: if entertaining employees in the TikTok Challenge suggest they are up for fun, the managers should ideally also have a sense of humor.
Example video: Microsoft "Unexpected Jobs"
But it's about more than a positive working atmosphere. Potential employees also want to assess the purpose of their work through the employer's attitude. They want to see how committed their future employer is to diversity, inclusion and sustainability. They're interested in the rules on mobile working and want to know if the health of employees is taken into account and whether a healthy work-life balance is talked about. These and other topics have become as important as salary and benefits.
Only the early birds will catch the next generation
When looking strategically at your target audience, you should think a little further ahead. If companies consistently offer appropriate touch points via social media and their blog, this will pay dividends for their employer brand in the long run. The candidate journey of a potential employee doesn't only start when they're actively looking for a new job – or are dissatisfied in their current position. Companies that succeed in getting pupils and students interested in their content will benefit later when looking for young talent.
So should all bank executives now dance to TikTok challenges and put on fake ears on Snapchat? Neither the management nor individual employees should be forced into doing anything. Only those who recognize the advantages of a platform and enjoy it can credibly strengthen the employer brand.
TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter – or just the one channel?
Your choice of social media platforms should also be strategic. It's very important to look at the goals and target groups as well as your human resources or budget for external support. If you have a tight budget, it's a better idea to only be on one or two platforms in a committed way instead of being represented everywhere indiscriminately or only in a cursory manner.
Once a decision has been made, you don't have to stick to it forever. Regular performance reviews are essential. This includes the question of whether your target group is still using the platform. Ten years ago, significantly more young people were on Facebook than today. Again and again, you can observe how platforms "age" over time. The majority of Instagram users, for example, used to be younger than 25. Today, you'll also meet plenty of 60+ silver surfers on the platform.
How do I find suitable content for my employer branding?
Does this problem sound familiar? Your management thinks the demanding and complex apprenticeship is difficult to explain in a 60-second video or an infographic? What they're actually saying is that the investment in social media isn't really worth it.
There are, of course, topics and products that are particularly demanding and complex. But this only means that more creativity is needed to convey the content in a clear way. You can offer knowledge in easily digestible units – as "snackable content". One time it's the "5 facts" and another time an employee opens her office door and gives exclusive insights. An authentic look behind the scenes is priceless.
Your apprentices or trainees can also show their everyday life in the company in a follow-me-around video, for example. You can let your imagination go wild without limits. And don't forget what Albert Einstein once said so aptly: "If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself."
Thoughtful content planning and dedicated community management
Content planning should be based on the needs of the target group. The content must be authentic, i.e. it must also fit the company. The more precisely you know your target group, the better you can offer them your content. If you use the technically correct term "photovoltaics" in your content, although the visitors to your channels are searching for "solar energy", you're giving away potential contact points.
Committed community management at eye level is also important. This is how you win the hearts and minds of readers and fans. You also get the algorithm to give you more visibility through interactions.
You should keep another thing in mind with your employer brand and social recruiting. Your own employees are also an important target group for your social media channels. Strengthening their loyalty can be as crucial as attracting new team members. Loyal and satisfied employees are also happy to be contacts for job applicants. People who find out about a potential new employer usually search through their contacts in business networks such as LinkedIn or XING. If a direct contact or a second-degree contact works in the company, it's natural to want to speak to this person.
Check your employer brand with smart performance reviews
In order to justify the resources for social media, regular monitoring of success is essential. It's a good idea to check how many applications (and hires) can be traced back to a specific platform or campaign. How good were these candidates and how long did they stay with the company? If it turns out that an above-average number of employees resign during the probationary period, there may be a few reasons for this. One possible explanation might be that the employer brand conveyed and the reality of the company's everyday life don't match.
Social recruiting: No more post and pray strategies
Back when job ads were the only way to recruit new staff, the phrase "post and pray" was used. The ad was placed and then it was time to wait. Ideally, you wanted there to be many – but not too many – applications and the right candidates should be among them.
Today it's clear that, due to the shortage of skilled employees, more effort needs to be put into recruiting. Social recruiting and active sourcing should also reach the so-called latent job seekers. These can be reached particularly well with the help of internal brand ambassadors. If colleagues share job applications in their network, the visibility of the company increases. It's also a credible recommendation. People who're unhappy with their employer – and have perhaps already resigned in their heads – will only recommend the job to friends and acquaintances with a high level of spite.
Positioning your company as an expert and contact for professional topics helps with recruiting as well. People who regularly read the company's posts and keep up with news are more likely to notice the job advertisements too. The algorithms of social media channels ensure we see more content from channels we've already shown interest in.