Posts Tagged ‘Employer Branding’

Organic Branding for Employers

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I was recently asked by international employer branding news journal, Universum Quarterly, to be the guest writer for this quarter’s edition.  Subscribers in HR organizations worldwide will receive the publication this week.

Universum Quarterly began in 2006 and is the world’s first periodical for Employer Branding.  Each issue brings feature articles which investigate best practices and trends in employer branding, as well as examples of employer branding in action and instrumental tips for succeeding in certain industries, locations and with certain types of talent.

Organic Branding for Employers

by Craig Fisher, Courtesy of Universum Quarterly

An employer brand should be built from the inside out. Just as part of an organization’s marketing message should come from its customers, the employer brand should be championed by its employees.  For better or worse, they are the vehicles by which the message will be conveyed on blogs and social networks. Smart employers will take advantage of this tremendous PR opportunity and embrace social networking, encouraging intercompany collaboration, and communication with those outside the corporate walls by their employees acting as their brand champions in social media.  The brand message itself must be authentic, unique and attractive. Job seekers today do not care about boiler plate HR selling points.  Sure, the message should be stated clearly on an effective recruiting Web site. But if it is not first conveyed to the internal employees and reinforced by meeting or surpassing their expectations, the organization will not have the brand champions it needs to convey that message online to job seekers.

Social networking at work

Organizations that place broad restrictions on the use of social media at work will soon feel the backlash in lower employee recruitment and retention. Workers at many levels these days are used to communicating and receiving information at a speed that is difficult to achieve with standard email and corporate intranets. In economic times such as these, where cutbacks are common, communication with your workforce is vital to maintain morale.  Social networking cannot only expedite communication, but also improve employees’ sense of belonging and worth.

Top firms like IBM and Sun Microsystems have successfully incorporated social networking in the workplace. IBM created a wildly successful internal social network for communication and collaboration. Sun hosts a Twitter account that is automatically updated by Sun Microsystems’ employee blogs worldwide.  Both companies have very clear employee guidelines about the use of social networking encouraging responsible engagement, communication, learning, and contribution.

Reach new talent Web 2.0 style

Jobseekers regularly google a prospective employer to find out what current and past employees are saying about working at that company. How do companies encourage a positive online portrayal by its workers? Social networking best practices should be taught in the workplace. Employees should be empowered to feel they are part of the positive message an employer wants to communicate. Your HR team can double as community managers by setting up employee group pages on sites like LinkedIn, Ning, or Facebook. Companies need to encourage employees to join and share knowledge. They should post helpful tips for new employees to get them integrated and productive quickly by networking with their peers and managers.

Prospective employees should be exposed to such networks to get a sense of the people with whom they will work and a feel for the corporate culture. Your new community managers can even use services like Twitter to announce updates, further promoting the brand.  With such an effort, your social collaboration will become an attractive feature to future employees. 

Control vs. respect

Companies cannot completely control what is said about them on blogs or social networks.  But viewing social media as a potential liability will not help matters. Companies who rely on simply a corporate blog or Web site to convey their message to customers or potential employees will miss the mark. Individual brand advocates within your ranks can be trained to effectively relate any message to the masses on social sites. is a company known for excellent customer service. However, Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, has said that their main focus is not customer service, but rather their internal people. That is a powerful branding statement. One can easily ask’s employees how they feel about it, as many of them have Twitter accounts with names like Zappos_Alfred or Zappos_Lynn.

It is natural to be concerned about what may be said by employees who are laid off by their former employer. Company policies of surprising workers with news that their job has been eliminated, locking them out of their offices, and ordering them off the premises are common place. Smart organizations can avoid this PR disaster with better communication and by assisting their displaced workers.  Instead, companies should set up a network for those who are laid off and post advice and leads to assist in job searching and outplacement.  Taking this a step further, they can even organize a “pink slip” party. Set it up on Facebook and invite local recruiters and career coaches to come and offer assistance to those outgoing workers. Word gets around fast about companies who treat their people well, even in the wake of layoffs.

Reinforce the message

A company’s employer brand must be authentic, unique, and attractive. To consistently have the company message positively reflected in the external comments of workers, a company must clearly convey that brand to current and new employees and work to meet the expectations set by that message. From the perspective of new recruits, there must also be a strong employer recruiting site that clearly states the message and gives a good picture of what work-life at your company is like. Many of the top corporate career sites use recruiting videos that can be viewed on site, as well as on social spaces, like YouTube. These are particularly effective when utilizing current employees rather than actors.

Creating a positive atmosphere of trust and empowerment within a workforce will help to assure that the right message is communicated online. If employers remain true to their message, the brand is built naturally from the inside out. Social media becomes less of a liability and more of a recruiting tool. Empowered employees will be the best employer brand champions.

Growing your brand with social media

• Determine your authentic, unique and attractive brand message.
• Convey the message to employees and on an effective recruiting web site. Meet the expectations it sets.
• Embrace social networking in the workplace.
• Empower your people to champion your brand through social media.

Craig Fisher

Owner Principal A-List Solutions
Dallas, Texas, US

Craig Fisher has more than 18 years experience in sales and is a specialist in IT recruitment.  He is the co-founder of A-List Solutions, a full-service staffing and recruiting firm for management and IT professionals. Craig is also an avid blogger.

A-list Solutions is a full-service staffing firm providing permanent and contract placement services for management, marketing, and IT positions to organizations of all sizes. They consult with both job seekers and employers on branding strategies that utilize social media and web 2.0 technology.

Headquarters: Southlake, Texas, US

Employees Help Build Social Brand, Interview with Loomis President, Mike Sullivan

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Loomis_Podcast Sometimes its who you know and who they know.  Last summer I was introduced to the president of The Loomis Agency, Mike Sullivan.  Maybe re-introduced is more accurate.  We first met years ago at the wedding of mutual friend, Lauren Mulkey.  Now Lauren, in her business development capacity with Loomis, a 20-year old Dallas creative firm, was getting us together again to talk about some ideas to get Loomis more brand recognition in Social Media.

Like many companies, Loomis was sort of half way into social media.  But Sullivan knew they could do more.  And being a brilliant executive, he consulted with people who had expertise.  And he also talked with me.  I had a couple of suggestions that they actually put into practice with great success.

Loomis had a few things going for them that I suggested he take advantage of.  One of those things was numbers.  They have a pretty good sized team.  I recommended getting everyone in the shop to get on LinkedIn and Facebook to help Loomis establish a presence there.  From an SEO standpoint, having all those users with Loomis as their current employer, and with links back to the Loomis homepage, LinkedIn and Facebook would be a great asset and would give them additional Web real estate at a very affordable price.  

Mike Sullivan himself is a pretty dynamic guy.  So I also suggested a targeted company blog with Sullivan being very visibly involved.  I thought that would be enticing to both prospective clients and prospective employees.  It also gives the current staff a solidified vision straight from the top. 

Recently I caught up with Mike to see how his plan was coming along.  I knew Loomis had done a great job with their revised blog.  And I had seen a viral holiday video they produced that was a stroke of genius.  So I was curious to get his feedback on the impact social media branding has had on Loomis.

Me:  This summer we met for a brainstorming session about corporate brand marketing through social media (social networks, corporate blogging, personal branding of employees, etc.)  What ideas from that meeting have had an impact on your strategy?

Mike: First off, I’ve encouraged all of our team members to get on LinkedIn and Facebook and begin using those tools actively. We’ve created a company presence in both those places, as well. We’ve used both tools as a means for generating traffic to our blog site, and I’ve noticed that it seems to have improved search results for our company.  If you search “Dallas ad agency,” for example, we’ve moved up quite a bit.  Depending on the day you search we pop up just above or below the fold.  I believe that’s largely a function of the increased social activity of our team members. 

Me:  What new steps have you taken to boost your brand awareness?

Mike:  I’ve personally built a fairly tight LinkedIn contact base. I think I have somewhere around 290 professional contacts, and most of my team members have fairly large, but tight, contact lists as well.  We have extended the distribution of our regular monthly e-newsletter, “Off The Chain,” to this group of professional contacts.  I think our total team member list is somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple thousand contacts on LinkedIn.  Of course, we have an opt-out option, so we are not engaging in SPAM tactics.  But, we’ve received a ton of positive feedback on the content of the e-newsletter and I know it’s been forwarded to others.  We used this tactic to launch our “sock puppet” video during the holiday season and that video was ultimately viewed by more than one million people.  Again, the content was the rocket fuel for that, but the initial LinkedIn database was the launch pad.

Me:  How has this new approach complimented your more traditional marketing efforts?

Mike:  I think that’s just what it is-a complement to the traditional business development work we’ve done for years.  We still do all of the traditional stuff–OB calling, direct, networking–and the social networking and blogging has been an excellent overlay for that activity.  The goal is to show up in as many places as we can, and this helps us accomplish that with limited resources.  We’re exploring other ways to use the social tools, as well. For instance, we are putting the final touches on our first monthly podcast this week and will be distributing that the way we’ve distributed our blog and e-newsletter.  The social sites will play a big part in that distribution.

Me:  Has this had an impact on your efforts to hire or retain talent? 

Mike: It certainly has been great for hiring.  We were fortunate to be in hiring mode recently and found several excellent candidates through LinkedIn and hired two of them.  We always prefer candidates who come with a referral from somebody we know and trust, and both of these panned out that way.  The interesting thing is that one of the hires came directly from a referral through one of our team member’s LinkedIn contacts (2nd degree).  If it hadn’t been for that tool, we would never have found that particular candidate.

Me:  What kind of feedback have you received?

Mike:  It’s been excellent.  Certainly, great content drives the best feedback. A really good blog post or something like our sock puppet video garners attention and generates a lot of positive feedback.  With respect to the video, we had people calling and e-mailing from all over the country.  That was fun and effective, and we plan to do it again. Of course, we’ve also had a lot of companies contact us asking if we can do videos for them. 

Me:  After your research and experience in the process of social brand marketing, what advice would you offer to other business owners and executives?

Mike:  First, just be sure to get in the game and encourage your staff to get out there and represent you.  Old school thinking tells people to stay away from this stuff during work hours, but I think nowadays our professional and personal lives are blended to the extent that it simply doesn’t make good business sense to try to restrict social networking activity during business hours.  Encourage it, and recognize and reward those who do the best job of it on behalf of the company.  Writing good blog posts and making smart use of social networks requires good thinking. 

Second, stay current because it changes fast.  Twitter is a new frontier for us, as an example.  It feels like that just popped up and we’re already playing catch up.  But I know a lot of people swear by the results they are seeing with it.  Staying current also requires a forward-leaning disposition as a company.  It needs to be an encouraged activity.

Finally, it still all comes down to quality content.  Are you communicating something people want to hear, read, or watch, or not?  The marketplace will vote as it always does.  Be sure to use the right side of your brain when you’re leveraging all this left-brain technology!

Craig Fisher Featured in ZoomInfo Newsletter

Friday, February 20th, 2009


One of the web’s top business information search engines, (which I find extremely helpful in sales and recruiting research), has kindly featured an article I wrote, Employer Branding with Web 2.0 & Social Media, in their February Recruiting Newsletter, Zoominformer.

Thanks to Flora Felisberto and Martin Burns of ZoomInfo for including me, alongside recruiting industry great, Lou Adler, in this edition of the newsletter.

If you haven’t done so, I would recommend going to and searching for yourself.  If you find yourself, but the info appears out of date, claim your profile and update the information.  This is a great place on the web to stamp "brand you".

Here is an excerpt from the February Zoominformer:

The social media phenomenon is no longer breaking news, but its impact on talent (finding, recruiting, and retaining) has started to accelerate.

Over the coming months, we’ll be taking a closer look at social media trends. We’re working with our clients and industry thought leaders to get to the "actual" behind all of the hype. It’s our goal to help you work in the present, as well as understand the future. This month’s newsletter will focus mainly on some of the practical impacts of social media, but we are also looking to a future that may be wildly disrupted by new methods of connecting with prospects, companies, and candidates.

If you have any ideas and interesting examples, please let us know. We are always amazed by the creativity of recruiters in navigating this world.

Stay tuned….

Are You a Web 2.0 Wannabe?
by Lou Adler

According to Lou Adler, "If you don’t invest in finding tomorrow’s candidates today, you’ll become history." By investing time in key low-cost technologies, recruiters can increase both the visibility and interest of their job postings. In this article, Lou Adler describes the six most important web 2.0 trends and tools. Read on to find out if you’re a "Neanderthal or a new ager."
Click here for the full article

Employer Branding with Web 2.0 & Social Media
by Craig Fisher

If your company’s HR department is not already utilizing web 2.0 tools and social media to market the company to job seekers, it should be. A new report by Gartner, Inc., shows that even though corporate marketing and web strategies are embracing social media, HR departments are generally slow to align with those efforts for the purpose of employer branding.

Click here for the full article

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ZoomInfo is a business information search engine used to quickly find information about industries, companies, people and products. ZoomInfo is used by sales and marketing professionals to identify business opportunities, by recruiters to locate talent, and by anyone conducting in-depth research about products, services and businesses. ZoomInfo’s semantic search engine continually crawls the Business Web – the millions of company Websites, news feeds and other online sources – to identify company and people information which is then organized into fresh, comprehensive and objective profiles. ZoomInfo currently has profiles on more than 40 million people and over 3.5 million companies, and its search engine adds more than 20,000 new profiles every day.

Why Are Some Employers Missing the Social Boat?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Social media sites are fast becoming the go to outlet to compliment a marketing campaign.  Companies of all sizes are embracing the technology and the ability to interact with their audience to boost sales and enhance marketing.  But as I stated in a previous post, Employer Branding with Web2.0 & Social Media, HR and PR departments are lagging far behind.  Those responsible for a company’s image, apart from sales, and product or service marketing, should be at the forefront of the company’s efforts in the online arena.

We have already seen two recent cases where a company’s reputation can be hurt quickly by the viral spread of stories or video posted to networking sites like YouTube, FaceBook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter.  The cases of KFC and Motrin are now well documented.  Just do a google search on KFC and rats, or Motrin and Twitter, and you’ll see what I mean.

My question, apart from the obvious effect of tarnished reputation and loss of market share, is how does this effect the morale of existing employees, and the interest of perspective employees, of the companies who own these brands?  Motrin responded with an apology and stopped running the offensive material.  This was material that was meant to be good marketing and ended up as a PR headache. 

CV Harquail at has found a nice presentation that illustrates the basics of reputation management.  She points out in her article, Online Reputations and Authenticity a few keys that can be derived:

* Many managers and management scholars are unaware of how important an organization’s online reputation management is to the organization’s overall corporate identity, the organization’s corporate social responsibility efforts, and the organization’s employer branding.

* Managers who remain ignorant of blogs, or twitter, or whatever online tool is being used to discuss an organization, do so at their organization’s peril.

  • Although online reputation management seems to be taken seriously only by those in social media and marketing circles, an organization’s online reputation can influence everything about how an organization is perceived . When you consider how perceptions of an organization affect how every stakeholder in the organization’s circle responds to the organization, you can begin to imagine the power of an organization’s online reputation.

And, if that is not enough to get you to pay attention, think more selfishly about your own ‘brand’. Online reputation management is also critical to individuals— as any teenager on Facebook can tell you.

Four points made nicely in this presentation — That we all should use online reputation management tactics to:

  1. Offset negative content by promoting what is good, and true
  2. Take ownership of your reputation in (yet) another medium,
  3. Address negative feedback in a constructive way, and
  4. Be open and transparent — and authentic — in your communication and self-presentation.



What You Should Know About the New LinkedIn

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
IMG 0742

Did you know that people with more than twenty connections on LinkedIn are thirty-four times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity than people with less than five.  That fact came from Guy Kawasaki’s blog in January of 2007.  And while his 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn are still a good primer, much has changed since then.

In case you didn’t know, LinkedIn has many new features for networking, job searching, and recruiting.  This article contains some tips that I think are very helpful in getting more out of this powerful tool.

The first is an indisputable fact.  You should be LinkedIn with me.  Go to my LinkedIn Profile and invite me to join your network.  Right now.  If LinkedIn wants you to list my email address in order to invite me, here it is: .  I don’t sell anything there, and I will never harass you.  But I will answer questions, refer you to people with whom you wish to network (if your intentions are honorable), provide a plethora of great job search and networking advice, maximize your marketability, help you hire your next great employee, or help you find your dream job.  And I will scratch your back whenever I can. 

Now do you see how easy that was?  Building your network is an important part of being on LinkedIn.  It takes a little work, but it’s worth it.  Just ask the people with less than 5 connections.  Oh, wait, you can’t because you would probably never find them even if you did a search.  I’m not saying that you should indiscriminately network with just anyone.  But chances are, if you are reading this article, I want to know you, and you want to know me.  Don’t be completely generic when asking people to join your network.  Give them a compelling reason or at least be friendly.  "I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" is neither, though that won’t bother me.

Obviously there is more to it than just building up a great network.  Participation is another key to good networking.  Julius Solaris wrote a great piece on his blog entitled 10 tips to master the “new” LinkedIn

10. Group Discussion not Q&A

After Linkedin introduced discussions within Groups, Q&A are redundant. Group Discussions are more specific and targeted to your interests.

You can see threaded conversations and, if you are lucky enough, you get some moderation from the group manager.

Linkedin Groups

9. Share your trip details

An interesting application is My Travel from  Tripit.

One of the best uses of Linkedin is to find connections when you are travelling. I heard great stories of people setting up successful business meetings just by asking in the Q&A section.

My Travel brings the concept further and displays your network where you are and where you will be.

My Travel

8. Ask for opinions

The Linkedin Poll application achieves the simple task of asking for opinions.
Polls have been there forever in online communities, it was right about time to have that functionality in LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Polls

7. Update your profile, twitter style

The “Update” section is becoming key to Linkedin. Hopefully they will develop this feature even further with better search tools.

This section is a very powerful tool as it gives premium information such as “This person is hiring” or “Looking for a business partner”.

Keep an eye on this one.

6. Promote and attend Events

The recently introduced Events section helps in finding relevant events in your area.

If you are organizing both, formal or informal gatherings, this is also a great opportunity to promote.

Linkedin Events

5. Be informed with the News section

I actually really like this section, it gives you the chance to see relevant information, again according to your Group belonging.

This feature used to be reserved to companies, welcomed opening.

4. Blog to the top

If you don’t have a blog, you should get one soon.

Once you do have one, I strongly suggest you integrate either with the Blog Link or WordPress app, the latter being my favourite.


Blog Link

3.Unleash your presentations

My beloved released an application to show your slides in your profile.

Out of all the apps, this is the most relevant as it really serves the purpose of networking.

Presentations are indeed the most accepted form of business communication, a great match.

Slideshare Presentations

2. Collaborate

Huddle is a great service for online collaboration and sharing.

This is a great application which enables teamwork, really like the 1GB shared space.

Huddle Workspaces

1. Perform a better search

Linkedin focused on delivering an improved search experience.

Make sure you check below for few tips on how to perform better searches.

5 Tips on How to Search LinkedIn Like a Pro

Regardless of how you use LinkedIn, you should probably be paying closer attention to it these days with so many ways to improve your professional profile, your personal or career brand, your employer brand, or your sales and recruiting efforts. 

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Employer Branding with Web2.0 & Social Media

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
Leveraging Social Networks at Affiliate Summit...

If your company’s HR department is not already utilizing Web 2.0 tools and Social Media to market the company to job seekers, it should be. A new report by Gartner, Inc., shows that even though corporate marketing and web strategies are embracing social media, HR departments are generally slow to align with those efforts for the purpose of employer branding.

Job seekers today research companies the same way recruiters research job seekers.  They look at what other people are saying about them on social media, blogs, and other Web 2.0 outlets.  HR Organizations who don’t attempt to control their employer brands online are missing a great opportunity and run the risk of missing the most sought after job candidates.

A recent study by Potentialpark Communications, a Swedish-based research and consulting firm, surveyed 1,800 U.S. students and recent graduates in an effort to identify the leading corporate careers sites.  Rusty Weston wrote an article about the study, Checking Out the Best Corporate Careers Sites, that states:

"about one third of the rated companies use videos to present possible future colleagues, a walk through the office or the day-to-day work,” says Potentialpark’s Magdalena Knott. “The use of blogs, pod casts and web casts has not advanced too far until now, but the importance is rising."

The Top 10 U.S. Corporate Career Websites

by Potentialpark Communications

  1. Deutsche Bank

  2. Microsoft

  3. BCG (Boston Consulting Group)

  4. Merrill Lynch

  5. Accenture

  6. Charles Schwab

  7. UBS

  8. Booz Allen Hamilton

  9. Intel

  10. Bertelsmann

The Gartner report concludes that "By 2011, Organizations That Do Not Manage Their Employer Brands Effectively Will Fail to Attract Key Talent.

"Organizations are investing significantly in adopting marketing and sales strategies for social software, and Gartner predicts that by 2010, more than 60 percent of Fortune 1000 companies with Web sites will have some form of community that can be used for marketing purposes. Although many organizations hasten to adopt and exploit social computing in marketing, sales and customer support roles, Gartner has found that HR tends to lag behind."

According to Gartner, the first step that organizations need to take is to understand what is being said about them on social networks and informally benchmark this against competitors and peers, as well as companies that tend to lead in this area. They need to be prepared for candidates to enter the recruitment process with a much-deeper understanding of the organization than would have been expected previously. The organization must also look at new ways of improving its image online."

So where is an HR organization to start?  UK-based Web 2.0 development firm, Organic Development, offers these suggestions.

5 ways social media can benefit an Employer brand

1) Blogging is a great way of building up your online presence and generating awareness of what it is like to be employed ‘on the ground’ within a company. They help the business engage with candidate and employee audiences directly. Moreover, with blogging comes the opportunity to ‘comment’, where readers can actually speak back to the business, giving their opinions and input: free market research.

2) Engage and respond to feedback. Responding to your candidate and staff opinions makes for a stronger relationship, gaining your customer’s trust and understanding. If people say good things about you, say thanks. This shows that they are genuinely being considered and their opinion matters.

3) Recruitment and HR Managers should welcome social networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and Myspace into the workplace. Not only are they tools for colleagues to recruit, promote HR policies, interact with employees and build relationships with each other but having them viewable by the public makes the company seem more approachable and engaging. Many companies are now using these sites already to recruit new members of staff, search for new business or to induct new team members.

4) Advanced search facilities allow people of all interests and niches to find and target what they are looking for quickly and easily. New and evolving audiences can be identified and reached without spending a penny.

5) If you create media that people enjoy and find useful in some way, they are likely to pass it on. Therefore, it is worthwhile seriously thinking about how social media could be incorporated into your business. The beauty of the concept is that through processes such as word of mouth, making a success of social media means sooner or later your audience will start to do the work for you. "

Blogger beware!  Corporate blogging has its pitfalls.  In an article written by Forrester Research analyst, and co-author of the book, Groundswell, Josh Bernoff comments on the recent Forrester survey that showed Only 16% of online consumers who read corporate blogs say they trust them.  Bernhoff says, "This means that if you blog, your goal should be to create a blog about which people say “I like that – I don’t think of it as a company blog.” For the most part, that’s a hurdle you need to jump to gain their trust. I don’t mean to hide who is writing the blog. I mean it has to be more about your customers than it is about you."

The survey, and Bernoff’s comments, are geared more toward corporate marketing efforts than employer branding.  But the lesson is good for both.  The job candidates you are seeking are savvy.  They do read blogs and utilize social media.  So relying solely on a blog for your HR and employer branding is not advised.  Nor is posting the usual HR propaganda.  Get your real employees involved and make your message transparent and believable.  And use that content in conjunction with social media to create an organic source of top job candidates.  Give them a real face to associate with your Employer Brand.

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