How the World's Top Employers Use Digital Storytelling to Build Their Employer Brand

By Rachele Focardi, Chief Strategy Officer - APAC, Universum, Intergenerational Strategist

Rachele Focardi, Chief Strategy Officer - APAC, Universum, Intergenerational Strategist

The most powerful and charismatic business leaders have one skill in common: the ability to attract their audience through digital storytelling. Today, CEOs recognise that the “audience” is no longer just the customer and that they need to attract the attention of future talent so they are inspired to work for their organisation.

By 2030, most of the world’s largest economies will face a serious workforce crisis due to a lack of available talent into high-demand skill areas. Potential employees are more likely to want to “learn on the job” - enhancing their skills as they build their careers - rather than completing a university degree before entering the workforce. Now more than ever, skilled employees are rare and valuable, and employers will need to incorporate additional training and upskilling into their value proposition to talent.

So how do you attract the rare and valuable skilled employee? You get them to want to join your team by developing an Employer Brand that presents your organisation as a desirable place to work.

What Do Today’s Employees Want?

Millennials are looking for a friendly, dynamic and inspiring work environment, with leaders who will support their development. Most importantly, they want to feel they are contributing to something bigger than themselves – there must be a sense of higher purpose to working for your organisation, whether they'd be contributing to social change or improving the environment for the next generation.

"Millennials are looking for a friendly, dynamic and inspiring work environment, with leaders who will support their development"

Gen Z wants all this, plus they want to feel that their job aligns with their personality. So, when the Millennials and Gen Z are searching for jobs, they are not looking at job titles or salary ranges - they are looking for an Employer Brand that resonates with them personally; an Employer Brand that reflects their values and personal ambitions and promises them room to grow.

How Employer Branding Influences Talent Acquisition

A strong and positive Employer Brand works like a magnet, drawing talent in your direction, so you have a wider choice of skilled candidates for key roles. If you have correctly built and communicated your brand, you will be able to find employees who reflect your organisation's values and goals thus creating a strong and motivated workforce.

Potential employees will overlook any opportunity to work for an organisation that does not have a strong Employer Brand, no matter how enticing the job description, because they want to understand the vision, values and culture before considering it a place to work. By the same rule, potential talent will actively turn down opportunities to work for an employer with a negative reputation, such as a stale or demoralising work environment or unethical work practices.

Broadcasting Your Story

We all know that today, career decisions are made with much more than the prestige of the brand or the leadership opportunities in mind. Talent selects an employer predominantly based on the working environment, which is one of the hardest thing to convey to people who have not had a chance to work for you. This is where Employer Branding comes in, and Employer Branding is about selling the truth - not fiction and not the dream - and it must be believable. Thanks to social media employers can now get their message out to exactly the people they want to target and influence. But there is a lot of noise out there. Every brand is selling their story, so the biggest challenge is cutting through that noise, and make sure your voice is heard. This is where digital storytelling comes into play, and here are the steps you need to follow to successfully capture the attention and interest of your target audience.

1. Understand Your Target Audience and Identify Your Unique Selling Points

The first step is always to make sure you understand your target talent. What motivates them? What are they looking for when it comes to their future career? What is their perception of your organisation? What employers are they attracted to? Once you understand your target group, it is time to define your unique selling points. What is the "soul" or the "personality" of your organisation? An Employer Value Proposition is always "unveiled" and never "created", and must abide by the following principles: it must be TRUE, SUSTAINABLE, ATTRACTIVE, CREDIBLE and DIFFERENTIATING.

2. Localise Your Employer Value Proposition

Now that you have identified your strengths as an employer, it's time to "localise" your EVP across demographics and functions. Of course, while your EVP needs to resonate with your different target segments it should also always carry a globally consistent message. I like to imagine the process of localising your EVP in the same way you would dress up a doll. The core “person” stays the same, but the outfit you choose is unique to each role, demographic and cultural context.

3. Be Where Talent Expects to Find You

Going social is no longer optional. Research from Universum has shown that social media is the no. 1 way for talent to learn about potential employers. If you compare social media platforms to countries, Facebook has today the largest world population (followed by China and India), WhatsApp the 5th and LinkedIn and Twitter the 9th and 10th respectively. By promoting your Employer Brand where talent expects to find you, and skilfully targeting your message, you have the potential to reach an audience equivalent to several countries at the click of a button, segment that audience and engage them with content that is uniquely relevant to them.

4. Tell Your Story

A story is a memorable way of presenting your authentic message, wrapping up your company’s vision, culture and goals into one compelling and inspiring narrative. It allows talent to be captivated by the tangible aspects of your company experience while giving you an opportunity to stand out of the crowd. The people who will be drawn to your story have the highest potential to make the best additions to your team.

5. Share Genuine Content

Your target audience will not be impressed by a string of empty clichés – you want to build your strategy on facts and genuine endorsements. According to Universum research, the no.1 way to convey your EVP effectively is through company employees, so always tell your stories through your ambassadors - not a corporate mouthpiece - and communicate regularly to maximise impact.

6. Target the Content Strategically

Different content achieves different results, and it is important that every post has a purpose. If you want to increase your market share among talent who doesn't know you, for example, you need to create content that raises awareness. When it comes to the talent who is aware of you but wouldn't work for you, you need increase their level of consideration by making sure they understand who you are, the opportunities you offer, and that you are interested in people like them. If talent would consider a career with you but doesn't think of you as their preferred employer, you need to work on building your brand equity by helping them visualise why you are the right employer for them, being relatable and creating a personal bond. Finally, if your needs are more tactical, for example you want to drive applications or clicks to your website, then you need to include a clear, easy and actionable call-to-action so your target audience is compelled to act upon or respond to your message.

7. Carefully Craft Each Post

Sadly, just going social with authentic messages is not enough. There is so much noise out there that making sure your post gets noticed requires a very skilled approach. Applying the following 5 "tricks" can increase exponentially your engagement rates.

• Use people as the main focus of the creative, not the brand, so you can show that the people in your organisation power the brand, not the other way around.

• When you show images of people use portraits that are zoomed-in to encourage more personal connection with the audience. Asymmetrical portrait alignment creates a unique visual experience in a highly symmetrical news feed.

• Use a personal statement that allows talent to identify with a goal or professional aspiration. It makes it real and obtainable.

• Don't forget that casual but thoughtful language encourages conversation, as do motivational action words that are linked to your EVP attributes.

• Finally, try not to use links to URLs as there is little to no control over imagery, but use them in the comments section instead.

8. Have a Different Approach for Each Channel

Different social media platforms have different ways of presenting your story. Tailor the message to each social media platform so you can demonstrate different facets of your Employer Brand while reaching a wider range of your target audience. For example, as Instagram is extremely visual, it is optimal for delivering the soft side of the employee experience, the culture, team bonding and fun work environment in a way that feels "raw" and real. Facebook is the king of all platforms when it comes to Employer Branding communication and building your community. It has the widest audience, gets most screen time and has the best targeting and dynamic ad platform. LinkedIn is very important for inbound talent who wants to find out more about you when they are looking for a job. It is also a good platform for recruitment marketing, especially towards specific candidate criteria, and excels at segmenting and communicating with mid/senior professionals.

9. Measure, Measure, Measure

Finally, you need to make your efforts measurable so you can assess which strategies are the most effective and compelling. If you cannot measure it, there is no point in doing it! There are three levels of measurement: the first is related to the CONTENT and assesses the reach, engagement, interactions and click-through-rate of your posts to ensure the message is performing the way it should. The second is strategic and is related to your BRAND; Is your brand equity increasing? Is more talent interested in a career with you? Are you more strongly associated with those attributes that are important to your target audience and part of your EVP? Finally, you need to measure the impact of your activities on your actual BUSINESS. This is the ultimate level of measurement and uses metrics that are unique to your organisation. For example, average cost-per-hire, quality of hire, time-to-fill positions and retention rates.

All these elements will help you develop the digital storytelling technique that allows you to communicate your Employer Brand and your unique offering to the world. By promoting your clear and authentic message across the right social media platforms you will attract and engage the talent you want working with you, and this is how the world's strongest Employer Brands are made!

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