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BRANDE : blog archives for November 2014

November 25, 2014

Help Us Give Back at Thanksgiving, with Kiva

All it takes is one person to believe in you.
Organizations across America have believed in Brandemix to develop branded communications that attract, educate, and engage their target audiences.
During this time of year, we feel it’s important to give thanks for that trust and to give back as well. That’s why every year for Thanksgiving we make contributions to Kiva, a nonprofit organization that enables people like you and me to extend microloans over the web to low-income entrepreneurs in struggling communities.Kiva
We chose Kiva out of many other microlending sites because eighty percent of its recipients are women, who are sometimes single-handedly supporting large families. As a certified woman-owned business enterprise, we believe in strengthening women around the world.
No matter how difficult our lives at the moment, people are suffering far more in many places – too many – across the world. Please take the time to visit www.kiva.org and give to the worthy cause of your choice. It’s not charity; it’s a loan, and more than 98% of Kiva recipients repay the loan with interest.
Lending through Kiva creates desperately needed capital in some of the poorest parts of the globe. It bypasses corrupt governments and predatory banks and ensures that the money goes directly to those who will use it. When the loan is repaid, you can give the money to another entrepreneur, donate it to Kiva’s general fund, or simply withdraw it. It’s a great way to give. And while you’re there, join the Brandemix lending team.
We hope you’ll join our efforts to fight poverty around the world and here in the US. From all of us here at Brandemix, happy Thanksgiving.
Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.
November 20, 2014

Do Companies Make the Most of Their Employer Brand?

Branding goes beyond messaging and includes a company’s products and services as well. The same goes for employer branding. Does YouTube accept video applications? Do Glassdoor employees rate their experiences on Glassdoor? Can you drop your resumé into a Dropbox to apply for their jobs?

Can you apply for a job at Twitter with a tweet?

Twitter does have an account just for recruiting: @JoinTheFlock — with 407,000 followers, about the same as Mountain Dew. The account does a good job of showing employee events and conveying the company’s fun culture, with plenty of hashtags like #LoveWhereYouWork. However, I found it interesting that the application form on the Twitter careers site doesn’t ask for the candidate’s Twitter handle. While there are examples of people getting jobs through a single tweet, those jobs weren’t at Twitter. The same goes for Twitter’s subsidiary, Vine. We all remember Dawn Siff, whose six-second video resumé got her a job — but not at Vine. Twitter may be missing out at recruiting its biggest fans.

Twitter job application screen

Twitter social recruiting: Twitter doesn’t recruit on Facebook. Aside from its satirical video “The Future is You!,” it doesn’t recruit on YouTube. Twitter isn’t on Instagram. The company has three recruiting-related boards on Pinterest, including one called “Culture.” Twitter does have a careers page on LinkedIn featuring a very nice video…created by Glassdoor.

Can you apply for a job at Facebook with a Facebook post?

Facebook does have a Facebook presence for recruiting but it isn’t designed like a Facebook page; clicking on “Careers” takes you to a robust site, and the application screen helpfully pulls some information (like college degree) from your Facebook profile, but the site asks for a LinkedIn link. Facebook’s page on Facebook (got that?) celebrates the brand but doesn’t seem to announce job openings.

Facebook social recruiting: Facebook doesn’t recruit on Twitter; @FacebookJobs belongs to an unrelated third party. Facebook has recruiting videos on YouTube, but no dedicated channel. Facebook isn’t on Pinterest at all, but has some fun employee photos on Instagram.

Can you apply for a job at YouTube with a video?

The answer is no. While YouTube does integrate nicely with Google Plus to populate parts of the online application, the form doesn’t ask for a YouTube account, video links, or any video version of a resumé. While there are examples of people getting jobs through video cover letters, YouTube itself doesn’t seem to want them.

In addition, I would have expected YouTube’s recruiting to include a lot of videos about culture, tours of the offices, interviews with employees. So I was surprised to see the “Life at YouTube” section of the company’s careers site has just one video — and it’s actually a collection of “defining moments” of 2013 starring employees, as opposed to employees talking about their jobs. On the careers pages where job-seekers are supposed to “learn about teams and roles,” there’s not one single video. On YouTube’s main, public-facing site, searching for “YouTube careers” or “Jobs at YouTube” doesn’t bring up any content from the company.

Jobs at YouTube

YouTube social recruiting: YouTube does have a recruiting presence on Twitter, but it’s through the mothership: @GoogleJobs. The same goes for Facebook, where YouTube jobs are folded into Google. The YouTube page on Facebook doesn’t include links to any recruiting resources. YouTube does list jobs on LinkedIn but, once again, doesn’t provide any videos.

How do Glassdoor employees rate their jobs on Glassdoor?

It’s no surprise that Glassdoor has created an employee experience that rates high on their own scale: Glassdoor workers give their employer a score of 4.7 out of 5. Even the “cons” are positive, like “high expectations right from the get-go.” Just as it promises all other employees, Glassdoor hasn’t touched the complaints from its workers, like “What a mess” and “Wrong people are running the shop.”

I also wondered about Dropbox’s employer branding in their recruiting process. Sure enough, when you start an application, the button for resumé says “Choose from Dropbox” and opens your Dropbox folders. Similarly, when you apply for a job at LinkedIn, a window pops up asking to fill in your application with information from your LinkedIn profile.

How on-brand is your recruiting? Does your employer branding reflect your organization’s culture, mission, and values? Are you letting your biggest fans and most loyal customers learn about joining your company in the most effective way? If not, contact me for help.

Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.

November 10, 2014

Marketing to “Generation Me”

The 80s may have been the “Me Decade,” but Millennials are clearly the “Me Generation.” This group, and Generation Z behind them, has unique views on popularity, celebrity, and privacy. These perspectives are sharply illustrated in Matthew Frost’s “Aspirational,” starring Kirsten Dunst. The two-and-a-half-minute film gives a critical but honest look at how Millennials think and how brands can market to them. 

The plot of the film is simple: Kirsten Dunst, as herself, waits on the street for an Uber (already placing the film firmly in 2014). Several people pass her by without a glance, but two Millennials immediately stop, take selfies with Dunst, and immediately start posting them. They barely speak to the celebrity, who stands there patiently. “Do you want to talk?” she asks her fans. “Are you curious about anything?” The young women’s response: “Can you tag me?”

Once they’re back in the car, the Generation Y’ers are much more enthusiastic. “I’ve already got 15 likes!” cries one. “We’re going to get so many random followers that we don’t even know,” predicts the other.

This encounter is fictional, but it’s very close to the truth. What does it tell us about marketing to Millennials?

The power of celebrity

Young people love celebrity content. According to SocialBakers, three of the ten most popular Facebook pages are devoted to celebrities, not brands: Eminem, Lil Wayne, and Drake. Four of the ten most-watched YouTube channels belong to celebrities. And eight of the ten most popular Twitter profiles are celebrities — nine, if you consider President Obama a star. In the same vein, the web has thousands of articles and videos on dating tips. But a video of dating tips from comedian John Mulaney was covered by Entertainment Weekly and the Huffington Post, and made it to the front page of Reddit.

What marketers can do: Use a celebrity is possible. If you can tie your brand or messaging to a movie, or a celebrity’s favorite charity, or to a product they use, you may experience a huge jump in interest from people who know the celebrity but not your brand. This is why you’ve seen articles like “What I Learned From Batman” or “3 Business Lessons from a Katy Perry Concert.” And if the celebrity responds or mentions you, get ready for an exponential leap in traffic. But please, don’t directly ask them, “Can you tag me?”

It’s all about the numbers

What was the biggest thrill for the Millennial characters? The number of likes and followers their selfies were going to garner. Popularity among friends is one thing, but internet popularity can potentially cover the globe. Millennials want their online content to generate a response from their social circle and beyond, as we see in the line “We’re going to get so many followers that we don’t even know.” Likes on Facebook, favorites on Instagram, and retweets on Twitter are easy ways for young people to compare their success to others’.

What marketers can do: Millennials want to share content that will itself get shared and liked; help them help you. When OkDork analyzed 100 million articles to find what type of content was the most popular, they found that posts with at least one photo were shared twice as much on Twitter as those that didn’t, and three times as much on Facebook — hence the Millennials’ desire for selfies. The analysis included emotions that the most popular content evoked; “Joy,” “Amusement,” and “Laughter” accounted for 46% of all online content. “Awe” provided another 25%. So, to reach Generation Y and compel them to share your content, create fun, humorous, or awe-inspiring messaging and make sure to include an image.

Make Millennials the star

The point of Aspirational is that the young women’s celebrity encounter was all about them. This generation has mostly lost interest in online privacy and now wants to be the center of attention on multiple social platforms. According to Hashtagig, the third-most popular hashtag on Instagram is #me, while the 14th is #selfie. Generation Y loves taking pictures of itself, as well as broadcasting its location on Swarm, and bragging about its achievements on Snapchat.

Also worth noting — the seventh-most popular Instagram hashtag is the starkly honest command #followme.

What marketers can do: Earlier this year, the movie Muppets Most Wanted placed a display in movie-theater lobbies that left room for a person to stand, inviting fans to “step into the vault and take a picture with the Muppets.” This is the selfie culture in practice. Why force Muppet-lovers to lean against a glass-encased poster when they could be in the poster alongside their fuzzy idols?

Brands should let Millennials be part of their marketing efforts. That could be as simple as posting a question on Twitter (like “What’s your dream travel destination?”) and asking fans to add your hashtag to their answer, or hosting a photo contest, such as for Halloween costumes or cute pets. Generation Y is likely not only to participate but also to share their creations with their social circles. Just as both characters asked, “Can you tag me?,” marketers should reward the best entries with favorites, likes, and shares.

Generation Y, Yes!

Marketing to Millennials may seem easy, since they want to consume content, want to create it, and want to share it. Yet obviously not every marketing strategy works. Brands need to produce compelling content, connected to a celebrity, that taps into Millennials’ desire for popularity. Only then will marketers see the power of this generation to spread the word and influence others.

Ready to reach out to Generation Y? Contact Brandemix to get started.

Jason Ginsburg is Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix.

November 3, 2014

3 Things NOT to Say with Your Employer Branding

I’m ready to retire some employer branding clichés. I’ve given presentations and written articles on best practices for employer branding. But it’s also helpful to look at this important recruiting strategy from the other direction, to see what “worst practices” to avoid. If you’re using or considering any of these techniques to improve your recruiting, heed my warnings.

“People are our most important asset”

There are several reasons to avoid this familiar cliché. For one thing, it’s too familiar, used at one time or another by Marriot, ENGlobal, Bain & Company, the Virginia National Guard, and even Microsoft. The phrase has been so overused that now the first page of Google search results for it are outright criticisms.

Microsoft: People are our most important asset"

Secondly, what does it mean? The term “assets” dehumanizes your employees, putting them in the same category as your computers, products, trucks, and other objects. Assets don’t take vacations, stay home to care for sick children, or get rewarded for good work. Assets don’t have careers goals.

Perhaps most importantly, “assets” don’t have ideas or adapt to new situations. You need people if you want to innovate and experiment, and to see opportunities, threats, patterns, or trends. If you value your workforce, you won’t call them an “asset.”

Finally, I don’t like that it separate the speaker from the listener. “People” refers to the employees who are not the company, while “our” refers to the company which is not the employees. This division shouldn’t exist; the employees are the company, and the company is its employees.

Notable second-place contenders:

Come grow with us, make your mark, make your next move, join our team, join us and make a difference.

 

“We listen to our employees”

That is, if you don’t really listen to them.

Don’t get me wrong; I love when organizations respond to employee ideas, needs, or complaints. But lots of companies say they’ve listened and responded, when they’ve actually done neither. A robust survey of the entire workforce, to improve company culture or to create an employer brand, can’t be taken lightly. And if it’s done wrong or half-heartedly, you risk eroding employee support.

Your organization can initiate such a survey internally, and even make participation mandatory, it’s often more productive to have a third party conduct such an audit. Employees feel more comfortable and speak more honestly when management and HR aren’t in the room. Employer brand agencies (like mine) also specially trained in discovering how employees feel about their workplace and culture without directly asking them or appearing antagonistic.

Employee survey tweet

No matter who manages the audit, the key is to actually take action. I’ve worked with several companies that didn’t like the responses from their staff and simply ignored most of it. They felt it was easier and cheaper to avoid major changes, such as reorganizing departments or adding a flex-time policy. But when employees saw that management wasn’t serious about improving their experience, some of them headed for the exits.

“Visit our MySpace page”

For employer branding to work, job-seekers have to see it. That means putting your recruiting messages wherever they are, on whatever platforms they use. And not just your current employees or latest candidate pool; you must think ahead to where your ideal workers are now — and where they will be.

As I wrote recently, Millennials and the upcoming Generation Z tend to favor Twitter, Instagram, and now Snapchat. Meanwhile, the fastest-growing demographic for both Facebook and Google Plus is people aged 45-54. Men are more prevalent on LinkedIn, while women prefer Pinterest. While Facebook is more popular than Twitter, 40% of Twitter users have a degree, compared to 30% of Facebook users — even though Twitter users tend to be younger.

The online location is only the first step. The type of content is also important. While YouTube itself isn’t a major traffic source for hiring, putting a recruiting video on the site virtually guarantees views. Photos are the most shared and liked content on Facebook. Polls, quizzes, and survey also lead to greater interaction from both job-seekers and employees. I love this post from Marriott to its employees on Facebook, for example:

Marriott asks for birthday wishes

Even if your online recruiting is limited to a careers website, that destination can have employee testimonials, interactive features, infographics, and other information that’s more compelling than plain text. If you find that job-seekers ask for certain materials in their interviews or at job fairs, you should start posting that information in an online location that’s easy to find.

To sum up, your employer branding should not be boring, inauthentic, lackluster, or poorly targeted. It shouldn’t make job-seekers think they won’t have a rewarding career at your company, or make employees doubt the company cares about them. It should not be an afterthought, with few stakeholders, little leadership, and a meager budget. Good employer branding attracts the best talent to your organization; bad employer branding drives them away and keeps them away.

Brandemix specializes in employer branding, employee communications, and social recruiting. If you’d like to ensure you’re implementing best practices in any of these categories, drop me a line.

Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.