Monthly Archives: August 2011

Use Employer Branding Secrets to Create Your Personal Brand

Employer branding. It distinguishes an organization from its competitors and makes itself irresistible to job applicants. As I’ve traveled around the country teaching companies how to create employer brands that attract top talent, I couldn’t help but wonder: What if job applicants applied the same strategies to build their personal brand?

How can they stand out in the marketplace? What is their unique value proposition that will get them in the door of top organizations? No surprise, I’ve found that the same rules apply.


1. Determine your mission. Forget for a moment about job titles and experience. What can you do well? What do you want to do? After all, plenty of branding is aspirational.

2. Decide how you stand out. Next come the differentiators. I discover these through research and focus groups, and you’ll have to be as honest with yourself as those groups are with me. What are the four or five things that set you apart from everyone who else wants to be, say, Director of Sales at Disney Consumer Products? Perhaps your experience points overwhelmingly in the direction you want to go, which is a great advantage. If not, what other skills could be applicable? Be candid about both your strengths and weaknesses; you may be surprised about which is which.

3. State your case. After the research, I create a single-minded proposition that encapsulates all the differentiators in a cohesive way.  How do you want employers to perceive you? Maybe instead of a marketing manager; you’re a “communications specialist with international experience”? Or, instead of a receptionist, you are a “Director of First Impressions.” How about conveying your passion for accounting by branding yourself “I love numbers”? Or flaunt your credentials, such as “Serving entertainment clients like HBO and Paramount for over a decade.” Whatever you decide, your brands should match your mission, summarize your differentiators, and convey a concise yet big idea to employers.

4. Spread the word. Lastly, a brand identity has to be visually compelling. You can use a number of free or low-cost tools to do this. Create a logo or find a headshot and use it on everything from your Facebook profile to your business cards. If you’re looking for a job in environmental engineering and brand yourself as “The Green Technician,” you should create a Twitter profile with that name. Make sure your brand is not just visible but highlighted on your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Join professional and affinity groups on LinkedIn as well, or even form a group of your own!

Stand out from the crowd!

If you have a blog or a Tumblr, re-design it to match your new brand. Buy http://www.[yourname].com, and the domain of your brand (if it’s short enough), so internet searches for your name will bring up your brand, and vice-versa.

A distinctive, credible, engaging personal brand will put you at a great advantage over your competition. Follow these steps for creating an employee brand and start attracting top companies today!

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Facebook vs. LinkedIn: Round 2

I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to my prediction that Facebook will destroy LinkedIn. The debate has continued on the article’s comments page, on Twitter, and on the Recruiting Animal radio show.

Image courtesy of Gino21410

I’d like to address some of the many good points made on both sides of the issue.

In the comments at ERE.net, Martin Snyder wrote “For my part, I don’t think social is in the DNA of LinkedIn (or they could have BEEN Facebook)” and concludes that “Products and services that enable that evolution will thrive, and recruiting, or the act of hooking up people and opportunity, will be more and more central to everything.”

I agree. Facebook combines social interactions, openness to third-party apps, and brand engagement to create a very compelling environment for recruiters. LinkedIn has many of the same capabilities, but little apparent willingness to innovate.

Which leads me to my next point. Andy Headworth of Sirona Consulting, who calls my post “utter rubbish,” pointed out that “BeKnown didn’t choose to bypass LinkedIn; it had its API access revoked by LinkedIn because they were trying to use the valuable LinkedIn data to populate the BeKnown personal profiles via Facebook.”

So LinkedIn wasn’t just bypassed by Monster, it actively chased Monster away? That’s a  perfect example of LinkedIn’s lack of vision. That decision to cede an innovation to not just one but two rivals may go down in corporate history alongside Borders’ decision in 2001 to let Amazon handle the store’s online book business. Ten years later, who came out on top?

Even recruiters who don’t agree with my prediction that LinkedIn will be irrelevant by the end of 2013 still see that the professional site is in trouble.

In an article titled “Why Facebook Will Not Destroy LinkedIn,” LatinOcean founder Jorge Albinagorta wrote, “I am not saying it will never happen; rather I am arguing that the social links – which can nurture professional links (e.g. I want to work at Adidas ‘cause I love the brand, and my cousin tells me training for salespeople is great) – are at this stage a huge haystack to look for needles.” He goes on to add, “I am looking forward to seeing a network, environment, app, etc. giving LinkedIn a run for its money.”

On the lively and entertaining Recruiting Animal show, I was challenged about numbers. “Animal” suggested that many of Facebook’s 750 million users weren’t of working age or lived outside the US. Let’s take a closer look.

According to CheckFacebook.com, a daily tracker for the social network, 153 million users are in the United States. LinkedIn states that 60 million of its members are US residents. So Facebook provides an American audience more than two and half times as large as LinkedIn.

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 24 million American Facebook users are between the ages of 18-22, the demographic either thinking about internships or summer jobs, or about to enter the workforce. The same study says 3.6 million American LinkedIn users are between the ages of 18-22. Facebook wins by a margin of more than six to one.

Factor in the National Association of Colleges and Employers survey of  20,000 graduating seniors. Ninety-one percent had Facebook pages; only 32% had LinkedIn pages. How will LinkedIn capture that other 59% as they enter the job market? What is LinkedIn doing to appeal to them? If they do nothing, won’t those grads just stay on Facebook and conduct their job searches from there?

Image courtesy of Kazukiokumura

As bleak a picture as I’ve painted, however, many think LinkedIn still has a chance. Fellow ERE.net blogger Ernest Feiteira wrote that “[Facebook] is not LinkedIn’s real competitor. BranchOut or BeKnown are. If LinkedIn realizes this too and they launch an app on FB, LinkedIn will wipe out BranchOut, BeKnown and other LinkedIn clones.”

Is LinkedIn up to the challenge? Will Facebook let its opportunity slip away? Can Google+ change the game? The conversation continues.

Why Facebook Will Destroy LinkedIn

This week, the Wall Street Journal published a story by Joe Light that highlighted certain employers, such as Waste Management, finding more recruitment success on Facebook than on LinkedIn.

“Facebook hires account for less than 1% of the total hires companies are making,” Light noted, quoting Jobs2Web’s recent analysis. “But if current growth trends continue, Facebook could rival traditional job boards in 2012.”

But it isn’t just the job boards that should be worried; Facebook will destroy LinkedIn, too. Here’s why:

  • LinkedIn has 120 million members; Facebook has 750 million. Employers understand the concept of fishing where the fish are.
  • The perception that Facebook is made up of flaky teenagers while LinkedIn includes only business professionals is wrong; the two sites’ average ages are just two years apart (38 for Facebook, 40 for LinkedIn). So there are plenty of 30-somethings on Facebook with years of work experience who are considering a career change.
  • LinkedIn is under attack by a major job board. In June, Monster launched BeKnown, an application that turns Facebook into a recruiting platform. It has 760,000 active monthly users after just two months. Instead of joining forces with LinkedIn, Monster chose to bypass the professional site and ally itself with Facebook.

  • LinkedIn is also drawing fire from a startup. BranchOut, founded by former SuperFan CEO Rick Marini, is a similar application with 2.7 million monthly users. Like BeKnown, BranchOut overlays employer information on top of the Facebook interface while shielding personal data (like embarrassing photos) from recruiters’ eyes. The success of these apps shows that millions of job seekers don’t want to leave their favorite website when looking for work.
  • LinkedIn can’t compete with Facebook’s social marketing. A major part of job searching involves personal references and word of mouth. Facebook is designed for just such interactions, as its “Recommended Pages” on a user’s home page shows. Instead of “Three friends like Pepsi,” users might soon see “Three friends applied to work at PepsiCo.” This sort of peer-to-peer marketing, effective in virtually every other field, will be impossible to duplicate on LinkedIn.

Facebook has more people, spending more time on the site, using innovative technology and getting personal referrals. LinkedIn has only its reputation and clean—bordering on empty—interface. I predict 2011 will be a tough year for the professional networking site. 2012 will be brutal. And, sometime in 2013, Facebook will finally destroy LinkedIn.

Social Media PR Disasters: Chevy Tahoe

In today’s digital world, customers now have access to the same mass communication tools once enjoyed by newspapers and TV networks, allowing regular people to broadcast their messages to the world. And sometimes those messages aren’t very positive.

How do brands respond? My ongoing series of Social Media PR Disasters finds the lessons not only in brands’ failures but also their successes. Today I’ll show you how a brand deftly navigated a disaster and came out looking both smart authentic.

The Brand
Chevrolet

The Incident
In 2006, Chevy promoted its 2007 Tahoe by posting video clips of the SUV, along with graphics and music, and invited fans to create their own commercials. The car company assumed the interactive element would draw a lot of participation, and that anyone who made a video would promote it to their friends.

The Problem
The editing application allowed users to create text that accompanied the images. Critics of SUVs’ notoriously low gas mileage and poor environmental impact began crafting commercials with captions like “We deforested the hills and strip-mined our mountains,” and linking Chevrolet to the Iraq War. The fact that these attacks accompanied official Chevy imagery made the commentary brutally effective.

The Response
As the negative videos became more popular than the positive ones, Chevy’s marketing team had to decide whether to pull them off the site. To its credit, the company chose not to take any action. A spokesperson told the New York Times“We anticipated that there would be critical submissions. You do turn over your brand to the public, and we knew that we were going to get some bad with the good. But it’s part of playing in this space.”

The Result
The carmaker claimed that 20,000 positive videos were made, compared to 400 negative ones. By allowing the latter to stay online, Chevy silenced critics who would have certainly called foul if the company had resorted to censorship.

 

The Takeaway
How can you avoid a social media PR disaster the way Chevy did?

– Acknowledge the conversation. You’re starting a dialogue, so be prepared to give up control. Two months after the campaign, Chvrolet General Manager Ed Peper posted on GM’s Fastlane blog: “Early on we made the decision that if we were to hold this contest, in which we invite anyone to create an ad, in an open forum, that we would be summarily destroyed in the blogosphere if we censored the ads based on their viewpoint. So, we adopted a position of openness and transparency, and decided that we would welcome the debate.”

– Think before you act. The urge to pull down the negative videos must have been very strong throughout Chevrolet’s marketing department. Doing so would have solved one problem but undoubtedly started another – and a larger one, as the story would have shifted away from the videos and focused on Chevy’s censorship. Luckily, Chevy brand mangers didn’t give in to the panic and realized the best course of action was to let the videos remain online.

– Be patient. Believe it or not, the bad press had no effect on sales of the Tahoe. In fact, in March of 2006, AutoBlog reported that “While nearly every other manufacturer suffered a decline in full-size SUV sales during the month of February, Chevy sold 15,431 Tahoes, a 42-percent improvement over [2005].”

Read my recent article on how United Airlines didn’t fare as well in avoiding a similar disaster.

Why Moleskine is a Social Media Superstar

As many of you know from my presentations and webinars, I’m always looking for brands that are using social media in innovative ways. I honor these organizations with the name “SoMe Superstars.” PepsiCo, with its brilliant social recruitment marketing, was the most recent winner.

Today I’d like to recognize another company that’s interacting with consumers in exciting new ways: Moleskine, the Italy-based maker of fine notebooks and journals. Rather than seeing its products as simply blank books, the company brands itself as embodying creativity, bringing tools to artists, writers, and travelers. To further this branding, Moleskine has created a number of social media channels that celebrate painting, drawing, writing, poetry, and scrapbooking, and encourages users to post their work. The result is a remarkably loyal fan base that consistently uploads and shares new content. In fact, BrandChannel recently declared that “If any brand name seems to be loved by all who come in contact with it, it is Moleskine.”


Here are the three superstar strategies that Moleskine uses to engage with its audience in a branded way:

* Moleskine has profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Tumblr, each with active communities and lots of user-generated content, from artwork to fiction to videos.

* For “old-fashioned” content, the company runs a blog, Moleskinerie, that integrates many of its social efforts while also providing unique content.

* Moleskine has just launched a mobile app that allows users to write or draw on their iPhone or iPad as they would in an actual notebook.

As the New York Times recently reported, Moleskine’s social efforts are immensely successful. 91,000 people are fans of the company’s Facebook page, while 12,000 people follow the company on Twitter. On both Facebook and Flickr, Moleksine encourages its fans to post their sketches, paintings, and collages, creating a community of user-generated content and supportive feedback.

Moleskine’s YouTube channel has 3,800 subscribers and more than 235 videos, both from fans and the company itself. The videos range from actual footage of artists drawing in the books to short films that celebrate the company’s creative spirit. The company also posts videos of its traveling art exhibitions and its workshops, which allow fans to meet and collaborate, making the Moleskine customer base feel even more like a community.

Most companies have a blog, but the Moleskine blog stands out by serving as a companion to its Facebook and Twitter accounts, rather than simply duplicating them. “Tweet” and “Like” buttons atop each post make it easy to share the content on users’ social networks. Moleskine also made the bold decision to stay distinct from the company’s website, giving the brand a platform to focus solely on its community. The blog includes a link to a very cool beta application, myMoleskine, which allows users to upload their own written or visual content, or images from a gallery, and create a virtual notebook, complete with turnable pages.

Even while it embraces its product’s low-tech charm, Moleskine is moving into the modern era with a clever new mobile app. Users choose a Moleskine notebook paper style, create a new “thought,” and then type or draw, using different colors and sizes. These “thoughts” can be geo-tagged, catalogued in different categories, and shared with others through social networks or email.

Art by Jinho Jung

In speaking to the New York Times, Moleskine America president Marco Beghin said “We let our fans speak for themselves. We wanted to create a relay of stories to become the ambassadors, interpreting the message.” Moleskine knows that its customers are creative and gives them an outlet for them to express themselves.

What can you learn from Moleskine? First, find the positive and compelling aspects of your brand, company, or product. Then learn who your market is and how they relate to those aspects. Finally, find ways of connecting with that market that utilize your strengths and are on-brand.

For fostering creativity in creative ways, I’ve dipped my quill and inscribed Moleskine in the honored list of genuine SoMe Superstars!