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People Make the Brand (With a Little Help from Tech)

By Catalina Schveninger, Global Head of Learning, Vodafone

Catalina Schveninger, Global Head of Learning, Vodafone

When I took my first role at Vodafone six years ago, I was tasked to design and bring to life the global telco’s employer value proposition (or employer brand). A bit confused, lots of questions popped to my mind:

- Why do we need another brand when the consumer one is Britain’s most valuable?

- Is not employer brand just how employees and candidates percieve the company?

- What is the difference between EVP and company values/ culture?

- Can you actually “design” it if it is already living in the day to day?

- Can you influence perception?

- How does success look like?

Data felt like a good place to start. 20,000 employees, more than a 1/5th of the workforce shared why they joined and what made them stay at Vodafone. We ran surveys and focus groups in over 20 countries, engaging both with employees and candidates. We used their very words to articulate the proposition, the tag line and the differentiators for target segments (graduates, senior executives, retail and call center agents, women in technology etc).

"According to a study by Mediakix, the average person will spend more than five years of the lives on social media"

Once the words and visual assets tested well, then rather rudimental social media machine started to churn content. I was lucky to have a brilliant millenial as the one-man EVP band: writing great copy, recording and editing, posting interviews with senior folks, coaching them to update their profiles and at least share job adverts if not bold enough to write long posts. The smartest thing we did though was to create a toolkit capturing all the brand guidelines: tone of voice, example of imagery and copy

To ensure that the locally created content, across the 26 countries, was telling the same global story, we enriched and made relevant by the local accents. We started getting the attention of our candidates, encouraged our people to advocate the brand and within a couple of years we came top employer in many of our markets.

Fast forward to 2019, brand advocacy from our own people is still the secret weapon. Candidates spend more time checking employees profiles on and content on social media than then they spend browsing through career websites. People spend a LOT of time on social media which has now become the first choice for job seeking as well. According to a study by Mediakix, the average person will spend more than five years of the lives on social media. If this is where the conversations with current and potential employees have moved, employer brand have to hone digital marketing skills (SEO, analytics, targeting, influencer marketing). In addition, some very cool technologies have emerged that enable us to amplify the message and, at the same time, to increase the level of relevance. Here is my top 3 solutions for anyone who is looking to insource the EVP work:

1. Google analytics–you do not have to be a data scientist to understand how candidates engage with your careers website. GA is free and quite easy to plug in. It will help you understand the funnel from the first visit to the conversion to application, how optimal the UI of the website is and where traffic is coming from enabling you to measure the ROI of social media campaigns. I love the heatmap that shows you where on the webpage people click the most–make sure you put your hot jobs or key messages right there. GA is a brilliant tool to measure ROI, the holy grail: think of click through rate from social media interaction, to application and ultimately cost per hire.

2. Content is king, you heard that saying from marketers. Compared to outbound tactics, content marketing costs 62 percent less but generates 3x as many leads. The EVP tech stack has made huge strides forward since 2014 when I was improvising. Papirfly–your own little content factory, a portal where you can store your templates (logo, layout, brand tag line) so that teams around the world can add their own images and create “compliant” assets at a fraction of the time and cost. It is like having an in house

3. If you want story telling at its best, tell it with film. We measured how our content is doing and was not surprised to see that candidates engage with (good) video six times more than they do with photos. Seenit, an award winning start up founded by Emily Forbes, enables brands to turn fans, employers and influencers into their own mobile film crew. You can share a script or a project–think a day in the life, or a campus recruitment event happening at multiple locations- to help guide the crew to the most relevant footage, while a live feed showcases the based videos. The competitive spirit and peer pressure kicks in and magic happens. We have almost replaced our entire video producting by SeenIt content due to its authenticity but also speed to market (saving 1-2 days per project) and significant cost savings (vs polished agency content).

A word of warning though: do not assume that the job is done once you know your analytics and plug in these cool tech solutions. Your key role as the EVP guru within the organization is to unleash the power of brand advocacy. Your people make the brand: the stories they share in the pub after work, the experience line managers give candidates during the daunting recruitment and selection cycle, the conversations by the water cooler. Combine human with tech and you have got your formula.

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