Your (Employer) Brand has been hijacked!

This is a guest post by Lilian Mahoukou, Social media and Employer branding professional with expertise in content creation, storytelling and social media/HR event planning.

Should we really fear this? Before social channels, the one-way communication style was sufficient. The top-down approach was like an unshaking model. In spite of possible existing conflicts, sounding nice on TV, on newspapers or on the company website, was enough to control the message. Journalists were seen as the only ones to influence.

Blogs, social media and empowered people

Then, blogs and other social media came in. Marketers have been witnessing a crucial shift. The customer voice has been empowered by social tools. Until now, bloggers don’t hesitate to share their opinions on the products/services they’ve been using.

In the last couple of years, there’ve been no need to be a blogger to share independent opinions. A YouTube video, a Facebook or a Google+ status update, a tweet or a pin could be sufficient. People use social media their way and have a growing choice of tools. Nowadays, controlling brand messages could sound a little bit “has been”. As people are empowered, there’s a need to deeply understand horizontal relationships.

And now, we’re seeing the same trend in employer branding. We don’t have customers but employees (potential, current and former ones). Of course, they may not want to directly talk about their employers on social media. However, they have the power and the freedom to do it offline or in online private conversations.

They have the power to tell if the ‘people promise’ is broken or not. This shows us the difference between ‘siloed & crafted’ and ‘lived & shared’ messages. Siloed & crafted ones are superficial and don’t reflect the reality of the workplace experience. This underlines a disconnection between a company and its employees.

If we couldn’t control the employer brand message, how to react?

If we have fears about what employees could say… there’s a problem. If we trust our employees and struggle (and listen) to deliver a very positive workplace experience… that’s another story.

Employee positive word-of-mouth is earned media. That means less job ads needed and in fact, lower cost per hire. If combined with a “social referral program”, the results could even be better.

Then, the question wouldn’t be how to get control back, but how to lead and thrive in an horizontal culture.

I had the opportunity to attend the first TEDxESCP last Saturday. Bob Davids was one of the speakers, and his wisdom blew us away. The key sentence of his talk: “People give you the power. Give it back to them”. It reminds us that egoless leadership’s vital and highly needed! Inspiring vs Controlling. “Time, money and quality could be controlled but not people”.

Editor’s Note: Social Recruiting and Employer Branding will be presented and discussed at our next Social Recruiting Conference taking place on 28th June 2012 in London.