3 ways employee-generated content is affecting your employment brand

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At Bazaarvoice our teams work with some of the world’s biggest brands and retailers to help them harness the power of what consumers are saying about the products and services they sell. I have always been fascinated by the transferability of Bazaarvoice’s message to how employers can harness and have their employee-generated content work for their employer brand.

Employee-generated content includes anything that a past, current, or prospective employee publishes about a company online that is accessible in the public domain – company reviews, blog posts, social media updates etc.

By applying research from consumer shopping behaviour, here are three ways that employee-generated content is similarly affecting your employment brand:

1. Traditional employer brand marketing is not trusted – 92% of consumers trust earned media (e.g. word of mouth and recommendations from friends and family) above all other advertising (Nielsen 2012). People are cynical about what companies are marketing to them nowadays. Prospective employees really want to hear about the authentic experiences of those who work at your company without the rose-tinted glasses. Shift your focus from sleek career pages with stock image smiling faces to ensuring that your employer branding strategy amplifies the unfiltered voices of your employees. Amanda Sterling’s book, The Humane Workplace (which you should immediately go and read if you haven’t already) describes this shift in a full chapter summarising with: “To be truly authentic, your employment brand messages need to come straight from the horse’s mouth”.

2. Two-way communication is becoming more important than ever – after seeing a brand respond to a piece of content, 71% of consumers change their perception of the brand (Bazaarvoice 2014). What’s even more important than tapping into your employee-generated content is engaging with it, particularly if it is negative. I remember seeing an outstanding response to negative content about Vend (a New Zealand SaaS company) here from Kirsti Grant, their Head of Talent at the time. Glassdoor is a great platform to start becoming engaged with. Showing that you’re responsive is a way to ensure people see that you take the time to listen to your employees and humanises your employer brand.

3. People have preset judgements about employers before having any direct interaction with them – before entering a store, 62% of Millennial shoppers already know what they want to buy through prior online research (Bazaarvoice 2013). Granted your entire workforce is probably not made up of millennials, this is still an interesting statistic which shows the extent to which people are forming perceptions about your employment brand before you are having the chance to influence them directly. If they don’t trust the traditional employment branding messages you’re promoting, they’re going to be uncovering all of the other content available to them to decide whether you’re a good company to work for or not.

An example of how Bazaarvoice addresses the new world of employer branding is through the use of a company hashtag – #livebv. Check out our careers site and one of the first things you will see are real Bazaarvoice employees from all over the world tagging their tweets, photos & videos on Twitter and Instagram with #livebv. The text, images and videos also carousel across televisions in every office as demonstrated by the blog photo. Using such rich visual content that employees have willingly posted inspires the right-brain to picture what life feels like as a Bazaarvoice employee, which is a powerful branding tool.

So, employer branding is no longer a ‘push out’ mechanism but a transparent and two-way conversation.

The broad variety of social platforms available to publish content on (Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Twitter to name just a few) means companies now have more opportunities than before to tap into and amplify what their employees are saying. Marketing and e-commerce teams are harnessing consumer-generated content to collect insights about their shoppers, and it’s HR and Recruitment’s job to step up and do the same for their employer brand.

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