There are great people out there deciding whether or not they’ll apply for a role with your organisation. Will they throw their CV against the ad blindly? Unlikely. Will they Google your company first, read up on whatever they can find and then make a call? There you go. Much more likely.
When was the last time you checked what content is out there for your potential employees to read? Furthermore, when was the last time you adjusted your content strategy to make sure you have control over what they’re learning about your company? Keep reading for a compelling case study outlining why content is essential for employer branding, as told by Todd Wheatland, head of strategy at King Content, an end-to-end digital specialist content marketing agency. You can also listen to the interview on iTunes or SoundCloud.
How do organisations use content marketing for employer branding?
They don’t. I’m a marketer, I came at this space, this gig very much from a “let’s help marketers become publishers, let’s help people understand that the world’s changed and they don’t have to keep going out and doing global funnel marketing or promotion.” All that beautiful, wonderful stuff that content marketing represents in terms of philosophy.
I think organisations are absolutely getting the budgets that they didn’t have two years ago and I see year on year, I see doubling, tripling, quadrupling of budgets and employer branding from many organisations. Getting much more sophisticated in the analytics and the way that they apply that and especially for global organisations much more localised in recognising the connection between geography and specific role demand.
Does that mean a lot more content is being created and published in the space?
It does. But I think the shift at the same time, as we all know, we’ve seen the great promise of social media, six or seven years ago, it was going to be free forever and you could just shout your messages and people would click on your links and come pouring back to your website, because that’s what they wanted to do. Or so we deluded ourselves into thinking.
The reality of those platforms is that that actually was so effective that everyone did it and we quickly killed that as a potential model. And Facebook, we’ve got client organisations under 1% for organic reach on Facebook now, we’ve seen even in the last three months, dramatic plunging in returns on organic visibility for many publishers.
Is the solution to create great content that will resonate with your audience?
The solution is definitely not more content. The solution is developing content with intent and understanding before you create it, how you’re going to get it in front of the right audience. It’s much less about, “Gee I’ve got a blog and I’ve got four social channels so I need to produce a piece of content every day for the blog and shout it out in the social channels.” It’s much less about that, one piece of content every day and much more about how to make sure every piece of content that goes out is actually trying to achieve an objective that I’m intentionally developing it for and is actually getting a connection with the audience that I’m putting it in front of.
How do you go about measuring the ROI on content?
You’ve got a legacy technology sitting around, you’ve got a lot of start-ups trying to do very different things as well. So it’s definitely an interesting space and there are things happening, but you see products like Clinch for example that are trying to do really clever things with combining more employer burning-type content assets with the actual vacancy, so you’re creating this bridge between the branding activity, story-telling activity, and the actual “Okay, how are we going to make money out of this thing?”
And the analytics that those sorts of platforms are able to achieve now are really quite breath-taking even compared to where it was even six months ago. So I think we’re going to see continued evolution of how relatively easy it is to track and score and get indicators as to “Are these things working?” And I think in general buckets, you’re always trying to understand, “Well, who has seen this content in what context? How has it seemed to influence what they were doing or thinking or their willingness to share or generate some organic or some other indicated interest in what you’ve created?”
And ultimately the hardest thing, which everyone struggles with, in any audience objective, people struggle with how can we demonstrate in ROI that it links to a business outcome for us. And that in most cases, is sales or lead generation or job application or join a community. So it’s being really clear on what is the metric we can measure that can demonstrate as close to possible that there is a money component that’s actually being delivered here. It’s really hard.
What’s the content strategy for your personal brand?
I think from a personal perspective, I’ve always been fascinated by the role of individuals and individuals within organisations and there’s a line between your personal and professional brand or where do you cross the line between what’s good for you and what’s good for the business? A very common challenge for a lot of people who are in this space, especially really active in social and in a big organisation. Huge number of people who’ve been shopped from those organisations because they seem to have crossed some imaginary line at some point, but for me… People love to make fun of LinkedIn, I love LinkedIn, I think it’s definitely my most useful platform.
I’ve actually become very, a little bit obsessed with Snapchat of late and needing to explain to my son why he wasn’t going to get access to it and him saying it wasn’t fair for me to tell him that if I didn’t know enough of what the platform was. And so I forced myself to get into it and I find it for me, it feels like the early days of Twitter. It’s kind of funny, people don’t really know how to do it, they’re really confused, it’s unusual, there’s lots of humour and discovery and newness about it. I think it’s definitely going to become a B2B play. I’ve actually engaged with a lot of my clients on Snapchat now and I’ve found it kind of like, you can get client relationships going on Facebook, for example, then there’s just a tone difference and a level of emotional connection that you have for that person for some strange reason that you feel on Facebook that you wouldn’t perhaps on LinkedIn.
You can achieve the same thing on Twitter, though it’s getting harder, it’s becoming less of that sort of platform, but I think Snapchat’s where that sort of activity is really happening now. That sort of personal connection, the ability to do direct messaging in a funny way with the clients. I actually did it with the head of a fairly large organisation recently where we literally just had what would have been an email conversation previously, literally just taking stupid photos of ourselves with filters and then writing text on the actual snaps, and sending each other. So I think that’s a real interesting blend, or breaking down of traditional comms channels and the way you can do that.
What are you and your clients looking to improve and expand on at the moment?
There’s an underlying complexity now to content marketing now that didn’t exist a couple of years ago. It used to be very much like okay, like I said before, you can’t just whack some stuff on your website, copy a link and shout about it in social channels and people will come and they’ll love it. And they’ll join a community or they’ll download something or they’ll give you an email address. It was very, very simple. You had to really be bad at it, six or seven years ago, to not to get some kind of success even if you knew what you were trying to do.
And I still think it’s possible to start from scratch and be very, very successful but it’s definitely not about producing more content. It’s definitely not about just going, “oh well shit, I like to write and I know some people and I’m going to write some stuff and I’m going to put it out there.” Our experience is consumerism and it’s typically now through discovery, and that discovery may be contextual ads served up to us, it may be inline feed ads on Facebook, for example, so that’s where you’re competing against people’s mums and their brothers and their friends and the disaster in Turkey and whatever, you’ve got these other things that are getting pushed in, in a contextual way, and they’re speaking to that person, in an understanding way, they’re recognising who that person is as an individual.
So it’s almost as if the stakes have been raised at every single level. Now when the stakes get raised, it’s “Oh shit, we’ve got to do more and more and more.” That’s absolutely when you have to do the opposite and just do a lot less.
And I would advise anyone to do all they can to declass our things. Not do five things, just do one thing. Start from a very simple premise and reduce the frequency and just focus on quality, consistency, and things you have a heightened degree of confidence are going to engage with a person. And test everything. A/B testing is iterative responses, even if you spend the time developing a strategy, you recognised that that’s just a hypothesis, that’s not the way the world is going to work until you actually put it into action.
And even if you have a strategy and it’s worked, it’s not going to work the same way in six months time. Because these platforms that we’re playing in are constantly changing. I don’t know how many updates that the Twitters and Facebooks and LinkedIns have made this year but it’s at least one a week from all of them that can have a significant impact on the financial viability of a certain tactic or not.
Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddWheatland.