5 ways to master the art of engagement when it comes to employer branded content

5 ways to master the art of engagement when it comes to employer branded content

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a series of breakfast insights hosted by Smarp whom I have recently partnered with. The theme of the event was brand advocacy, something which I am very passionate about, with a particular focus upon creating relevant and engaging content. With Instagram already trialling the removal of ‘likes’ from their platform in the last few weeks, and the (predictable) meltdown of some ‘influencers’ already gathering momentum, there are some big questions that all brands, not just those focused upon employer brand, need to start asking themselves about the content that they are producing. After listening to the fantastic presentations delivered by Rob Lee (Founder of Relative Links), Stuart Jones (Founder and Director of In Source Talent) and Smarp’s own Mikael Lauharanta, I wanted to share the 5 takeaways that I can see on how brands can embrace this new era of social engagement when it comes to producing engaging and relevant branded content:

  1. Pushing content does not work, creating content that ‘pulls’ does

    As a Geography teacher between 2006 and 2008 I spent many hours teaching my pupils the difference between ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors - essentially the things that force someone into something or attract them to it. In the classroom this was largely applied to migration but I’m going to take a leap here and ‘borrow’ the concept for the purposes of branded content which was covered by Mikael.

    As a ‘slaves’ to our smartphones we have been conditioned towards push notifications, however, at the same time many of us have taken steps to control what is pushed to us, and what is not, choosing what we want to see and what we don’t, or what we’re happy to find for ourselves. The increased frequency of ‘sponsored ads’ and ‘promoted’ content has reduced trust in brands and a level of scepticism amongst content that is pushed towards us. Instead the smart brands are taking time to create content that users will proactively seek and/or find helpful playing a much more active role in their target audiences ‘buying decisions’.

  2. Invest heavily in distribution strategies over producing the content itself

    Let’s be honest, we all have issues with perfectionism in this world of ours, which in branding often leads to an unnecessary amount of time, money and approvals needed before we are confident enough to ‘go live’. The problem here is that the world is not perfect (brief side step - if it were Boris Johnson would never have become prime minister…discuss…) and the more that we attempt to engineer the ‘perfect campaign’ the less authentic it becomes, especially when it comes to employer branding. I am a firm believer that the corporate brand’s tone of voice and the employer brand tone of voice are not, and should not be, the same. Considerations need to be taken, and discussed, but brand guidelines are just that, a guide. If more time, budget and resource was spent on building strategies around distribution via a well-oiled brand advocacy programme internally, than bouncing emails around which are nothing but a game of power play, then your content may have a better chance of being discovered in the sea of content that washes over us every single minute of the day.

  3. Paying attention to your audience and what they need leads to action

    There is a ‘trust crisis’ for brands which has in turn led to the rise of the influencer and a shift in focus of where people look for trusted sources of information. As a result brands need to spend more time getting to know their audience, investing time in the dating game rather than running straight for the wedding ring to propose as I’ve discussed previously. Stuart talked about the importance of nudging candidates from ‘attention’ through to ‘action’.

    If you don’t believe me, then let the stats shared by Oliver Sidwell at last week’s RateMyApprenticeship Awards, where their new top 100 employer ranking based on reviews submitted by apprentices, was announced speak for themselves:

    • Glassdoor recently found that 70% of job seekers read reviews prior to making any career decision

    • Gartner stated that 84% of millennials are likely to be influenced by user generated content…that is created by strangers

  4. Internal engagement with your stakeholders is just as important as engaging externally

    When I started my career at EY back in 2010 I had already seen the power of brand advocacy in action through the brand ambassador programme which had been put in place by my colleague Laura Boyle at Teach First. Now admittedly with the programme she had set up, and the one I then replicated at EY, we were working with eager and willing students on campus being paid for their work, and apprentices proud and excited to be sharing their experiences with other young people, so ‘the sell-in’ was arguably easier. However, just because a nut is hard to crack it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try and it’s often not as hard as we think to take a strategic approach towards engaging internal stakeholders, in senior positions, to lead the charge. And they don’t always need to be senior, in fact the benefits of recruiting ambassadors from all levels of the organisation is much more powerful.

  5. Modern storytelling is truly digital so it’s important to learn how to ‘Netflix your content’

    6 years ago orange was the new black, following the successful launch of the first Netflix-produced binge-fest that was House of Cards. At the centre of the success of the shows that followed including Orange Is The New Black, The Queen, Stranger Things and Queer Eye (just to name some of my favourites) lies the age old vehicle of storytelling. Whilst we may not being telling our stories via cave paintings anymore, the tools we can use to tell our brand stories are still in our hands, our smartphones, and the applications that are so heavily ingrained into our lives as our means of communication including Snapchat and Instagram as shared by Rob.

So whilst the world starts to go crazy as the ‘likes’ begin to fade away, the era of engagement is about to take centre stage, don’t get left behind, and start to switch your focus on these brand metrics that really matter now and in the future.

Photo by Henrik Dønnestad on Unsplash


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In an era of message saturation and digital disruption, it can be difficult to cut through the noise, capture attention, and make our voice heard. In this talk, Ashley Fell shows how, even in our world of screens, social media and ever-emerging technology, it is the timeless power of storytelling, harnessing the unmatched visual platform that is the human mind, that best informs, instructs, involves and inspires audiences.


Create an informed and engaged workforce with one powerful employee communications and advocacy platform. Contact me at steve@thebrandingman.co.uk to find out more about using Smarp as part of your employer brand advocacy strategy.

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