Branding and Communities: Finding Your Starting Point

blahblahblahLately, I’ve had the opportunity to work on multiple projects that deal with employment branding and talent communities. I’ve come across some fantastic examples while performing research on successful and unsuccessful companies. I’ve been able to consult companies on their current state and provide suggestions for a better strategy. I’ve even had the chance to implement a few initiatives for my own company. It’s been a great learning experience from both research and hands-on experience, however, during this time I’ve also come across a lot of misconceptions regarding this. This simple misconceptions are what’s causing many companies to fail when it comes to maximizing their efforts.

In my time, I’ve seen companies with amazing branding, such as Adobe. I’ve also discovered some unique and fun talent communities, such as Zappos, GE and Accenture. I’ve even had the pleasure of demoing technology such as Work4, which has really added something appealing to social media recruitment and social media talent communities. And tech companies like Ascendify work well when it comes to having the functionality to truly make a talent community work in the way that it has been theorized. All of these things are examples that companies should look to when envisioning their strategy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Some companies think that creating an email list to blast out their job agents is a talent community. Some companies think that throwing together a little fluff piece about their company culture or a job is employment branding. Neither are the case and, unfortunately, these scenarios are usually run by the same companies who curse communities and branding months down the line when they’ve gained no traction. To have a robust, valuable and engaging community, you not only need the manpower to run it but you also need the content to share. Content can’t only focus on sharing company news, jobs and employment branding, but also educational or informative pieces regarding the industry or job from other sources.

To have a functional employment brand, you need to go beyond the surface and really dig deep. When investigating this for my clients lately, I’ve noticed a lot of the issues seemed to revolve around the fact that they lacked an engaging or defined employee value proposition (EVP) that helped differentiate them from other companies. There were some companies that really didn’t even have one established at all. In my opinion, this is the first thing companies should focus on before they get to branding content and communities. The EVP is the backbone of all of these activities for so many reasons.

The EVP is a way a company defines itself to its employees and candidates. It’s a way of attracting new talent and a reminder as to why current employees would want to stay there. It also acts as the basis of all branding content. It gives branding a purpose, a focus and helps ensure consistency. It establishes a company’s personality and voice. And it helps branders understand what point they’re trying to make when they create content. This should be the starting point and companies should scale back to work on this before anything else.

To have a strong brand and community, companies need to know what they’re promoting. So many companies fail at this or create confusing messages because they haven’t established the consistent voice and message. Without a defined starting point (the EVP), your community messaging will be empty and provide no value. Starting at this point can also make it tremendously easier when moving forward with other parts of the development.

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What are Talent Communities?

In last week’s #TChat, we dug deeper to understand social communities, specifically focusing on talent communities. Of course, this is another topic that I enjoy learning more about because my background is in HR and I’m currently in a recruiting role. For those who don’t know what a talent community is, it can be simply defined as a social community that deals with social recruiting efforts. These communities open up opportunities for two-way communication between recruiters and job seekers. Talent communities can be an essential way for job seekers and recruiters to determine if there is a fit between what the company needs and what the candidate needs.

So what are some examples of talent communities? Here are some that come to mind:

  • Social media: sites like Linkedin are designed to connect professionals with other professionals. This is a great way to network, learn, and develop. It’s also a fantastic way for recruiters and job seekers to find one another and open up opportunities for communications.
  • Chats and discussion groups: once again, this can be located on social media sites such as Linkedin and Twitter. These social media sites have created discussion forums and chats that are focused on talent acquisition and human resources topics. They also open up chances for recruiters and candidates to participate in discussions so they can build potential relationships and networking opportunities.
  • Career fairs: career fairs are a great way for recruiters and job seekers to get some meet and greet time in. Career fairs are specifically designed for job opening promotion and discussion (sometimes even interviewing). Every instance involves some sort of communication in this talent community.
  • Networking events: networking groups and events are another great way to create and maintain a talent community. Individuals can meet each other in a casual way and perhaps even gain referrals for business development, expertise, and/or potential job openings (or candidates, for recruiters who are looking).

I am a strong believer in talent communities. I enjoy the social aspect of it and believe that it can be a very strong resource, both for recruiters and job seekers. These communities are created organically and maintain strong engagement because it has a central purpose that is of interest to those involved. The strongest aspect of this community is the fact that candidates can get a deeper understanding of job openings and company culture to determine if it is a fit for their personal needs and values. Additionally, recruiters can gain more insight on what candidates can offer in addition to their past work/education experience. All in all, I think talent communities create opportunities to help connect and fit the best job openings with the best candidates.

If you like topics like this, be sure to join #TChat on Twitter on Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

More Links:

The Talent Community Leader’s Sweet Spot

Talent Community Recap by Kathleen Kruse

#TChat Insights on Storify

Talent Culture

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