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So much free.🔬 (EBH#181: I Drove All Night)
When discussing LinkedIn, it's hard to use the term "free" with a straight face. But since you're already paying for, it doesn't cost any more.
Mission: Democratize Employer Branding (it is for EVERY company!)
If someone shared this with you, you should subscribe. Every week you’ll get a little bit smarter about employer branding.
Who taught you how to activate your employer brand?
All the best branders I know learned by standing next to really smart people, paying attention, asking questions, and experimenting until things clicked.
What if you could accelerate that process? What if you could stand next five smart branders and ask them questions in a focused way, asking them for help and advice on your biggest challenges, anything from “how do I get budget?” to “how do increase my brand awareness?” to “how do I get visibility from leadership?” to “how do I get promoted?” Its a safe space designed to make you demonstrably better in a short period of time.
That’s the power of a mastermind group. I’m forming two small groups, starting the week of February 13th, so spots are very limited. Take a look!
The Big Idea
As we talked about last week, doing great employer branding work using the free ideas and resources at your disposal is the surest way to make an impact and get access to the real money. That’s why all the newsletters in January will do a deep device into free stuff you can do RIGHT NOW.
This week: LinkedIn Strategy (you don’t have to pay for).
Most companies post employer brand content on LinkedIn. And most of them are doing a pretty mediocre job of it. Someone paid for LinkedIn so you need to show them how to squeeze all the juice out of the lemon.
First, you need to run a quick audit. Look at the last 3 months worth of posts. You can export the data and drop it into a spread sheet to see some averages of how your content is performing. What’s the median amount of impressions and engagements? What content is at the top 20% and what do these posts do that others don’t? Look at the content at the bottom 20% the same way. Looking at what makes a winner and what makes a loser will immediately tell you what you need to do more of.
Things to look at are:
What images work better? People or “stuff?” Polished stock images or something slightly rougher?
Do videos work better than non-video posts?
What kinds of stories play well? What kind don’t? (example: in the top ten posts, three are stories of people on their week off doing stuff with images taken on phones while the announcement of the CFO speaking at an investor’s conference is just sitting there…)
While lots of people will tell you there are “best times to publish,” those are averages. What times work best for your posts?
You can even do this analysis on all LI content, even the stuff that isn’t specially employer branding. In the social media world, LinkedIn gets treated like the odd man out. Instagram is more fun. Tik Tok is cooler. To most social media folks, LinkedIn is boring. This means there’s an opportunity for you to make an impact.
Look at the research by people like Andy Foote on what works right now. How many hashtags are optimal? Are there some formats that work better than others? If you’re sharing outside content, are there any tricks to maximize its reach? Become an LinkedIn expert. It’s not that hard. So long as you remember that their algorithm is always evolving, so what worked in Q1 might not work in Q2. And being an LI expert lets you make better friends with the social media team.
When you look at the research, you will discover that too many posts cannibalizes your traffic. The algo on IG and Twitter rewards lots of posting, but the one on LI doesn’t. How should you change your strategy? How many posts are too many? You will need to coordinate with everyone else posting on LinkedIn to make sure each post is maximized, and that the channel is telling a coordinated and compelling story.
Next, investigate your hashtags. While there are lists of “the 100 most used hashtags,” that really won’t help you. What audiences do you want to be known in? What hashtags do they follow? Think about different teams and functions in your company – are there specific hashtags they would take advantage of? Build a library of focal tags, both for the industry, the company and specific teams. The more you use these, the better known you will be in those circles instead of throwing spaghetti against the wall for every post.
Once you do all this research, congrats, you’re an expert. Now make friends and make changes.
First, write up all your findings into a report. 2-3 pages with the charts and tables to show that this isn’t just an opinion. Identify the top takeaways which you should frame in a “from now on, we need to do this, not this” model. If EB content plays well, show how other functions (comms, marketing, IR, etc) can take advantage of your findings. Don’t just make your content better, make everyone’s content better (be a hero). Give examples of how you are going to take advantage of these insights (instead of posting “here are our top jobs for the week” have two jobs with custom graphics (the ones we figured out in last week’s email) each week, for example) so that others can see that you aren’t lecturing anyone, you’re interested in better performing content.
Share the report with the social team first (so that they don’t feel blind-sided) and ask if they would make any changes before you start sharing it with leadership. Make them allies, not adversaries.
Next week, we’ll talk about recruiting outreach strategy. I’m excited!
I’m a big believer that since employer brand teams are rarely well-funded, usually have only a skeleton crew, and are last in line for resources, that they MUST take their cues not from marketing, but from challenger brands. (For more on challenger brands check out The Pirate Inside and A Beautiful Constraint, the first two books on my updated list of employer branding books you need to read, even though they aren’t about employer branding). Everyone talks about the Avis example from the 1960’s, but it always feels historical. Looking at the 2008 Obama campaign through a challenger lens, however, is incredibly revealing.
The Approval of Italian Grandmothers, Part 2 (humor and brand purpose)
What Do Your Customers Want in 2023? (candidate mindset)
Use This Downtime to Promote Your Employer Brand (spoiler: in this article, they use the term “employer branding” when they really mean “recruitment marketing that isn’t exclusively ‘we’re hiring’ focused.)
”But the audience is right. They’re always, always right. You hear directors complain that the advertising was lousy, the distribution is no good, the date was wrong to open the film. I don’t believe that. The audience is never wrong. Never.”
– William Friedkin
Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:
EVP Masterclass: Develop your own Employer Brand/EVP alongside other recruiting leaders in my next guided cohort.
Employer Brand for Recruiters: Video on demand to teach recruiters how using their employer brand properly makes them more effective. Group rates available.
Coaching and support: Email me and we’ll set up time to talk 1:1 about how I can help you or your company take advantage of your employer brand.
Cheers and thanks!
-James Ellis (LinkedIn)
Read Talent Chooses You for free from this open source Google Doc.
Search all 1,700+ links historically referenced in the article archive.
Here’s the 2022 version of The Employer Brand Manifesto.
220+ episodes of The Talent Cast podcast.
Where the subject line came from:
Cyndi Lauper - I Drove All Night
Finally! Cyndi! The face of 1984 music! But wait, this isn’t something from She’s So Unusual. For my money, that album was as much about her look, her vibe as the music (though, there’s no question that She Bop and Time After Time are classic tracks). This album was five years later, when Cyndi had become a full-on ingenue, a diva with real pipes.
Imagine the guts of covering a Roy Orbison track only five months after he died… and killing it. It is well-served by the polish and crisp backing band, but this version retains all the heart. It’s like she took Roy’s version and just turned all the knobs as far as they could go, then kicked the amp.
Sadly, the album didn’t do well, but this remains a great great song.
If you are enjoying the music, congratulations, you have great taste in music and/or you’re old! Just for you, I made a Spotify playlist of all the subject line 80’s songs I’ve referenced over the last year and a half. You don’t even need hairspray to enjoy it:
If you’ve read this far, you win! Here’s your prize: This newsletter is about to make a big change. Details next week. Congrats: you know something other people don’t.
***This newsletter contains no ChatGPT***