Social Media Week in Hamburg: The venue is filled to capacity. Heiko Biesterfeldt begins his presentation with every intention of winning the audience over for his agency. A main focus is on digital employer branding processes. The hope is that these will attract the right sort of candidate to ad publica in future. Flex-time, home offices and matrix organization structures are mentioned. The audience reacts with surprised tweets – this had been billed as a presentation on social media.
Digital employer branding is trending. Google shows well over one million hits for the term. Meanwhile, HR officers are wondering if this is simply an old marketing tactic with a new label or a truly innovative concept. The umbrella term employer branding dates back to the 1990s. It was a reaction to the dearth of qualified personnel, reaching its populist culmination in the excruciating ‘Children instead of Indians’ motto propagated in politician Jürgen Rüttger’s election campaign. We live in an online age, and the topic is now mostly handled professionally. An increasing number of companies are using digital employer branding processes. Consequently, an increasing number of agencies begin to have the know-how to handle these processes and the testimonials to support this.
Jan-Philip Thie, Chief Digital Officer at ad publica since early 2012 and responsible for strategic consultation in matters of digital communication, endorses the benefits of digital employer branding. In his presentation, he talks about the agency’s clients and how he had managed to dissuade one of them from social media recruiting. And that although the Social Media Recruiting Report 2011, published by the Institute for Competitive Recruiting, ranked social media recruiting as the number one topic with increasing importance – ahead even of the ever-popular employer branding. A preliminary social media audit for that client had shown an extremely negative current employer image, bound to result in an uncontrollable shitstorm. The social networking service Twitter takes quite a different approach. Currently, a tongue-in-cheek recruiting video is parodying its apparently positive employer image. Meanwhile, online career magazine KarriereSpiegel announced a ranking of the worst recruitment videos, with a name-them-and-shame-them aspect.
The employer brand is affected by product and corporate brands, as confirmed by recent studies. Notably, companies with strong product respectively corporate brands head the lists of best employers. BMW, Lufthansa and SAP hold top ranks. All of them practice digital employer branding. The product brand respectively the corporate brand affects the employer brand. It is an essential criterion in the choice of employer and therefore the starting point for any digital employer branding strategy. Well-founded digital employer branding enables companies to position themselves online as an attractive career prospect and employer of choice. In addition to building a strong image in the relevant markets, they also develop their genuine qualities as an employer. To achieve this, image and facts must tell the same story.
A view seconded by our agency head, quoting Edward L. Bernays: ‘Good PR begins at home!’ The employer image should be an integral part of the corporate brand building process and the corporate strategy. This ensures that digital employer branding is not simply a marketing instrument but a part of the strategic corporate management, and that companies can withstand the frequently hectic challenges presented by digital media. Where a mere mouse click suffices to initiate a dialogue with critical target groups, answers should not be drawn from a laboriously compiled FAQ archive, but should be authentic, given live and supported by a strong brand.