Tag Archives: CULTURE

Why Bridgepoint Education Careers is a Social Media Superstar

I recently discovered Bridgepoint Education’s clever use of Twitter and Pinterest to hire for its campuses and offices in San Diego, Denver, and Clinton, Iowa. I then had the chance to speak with Christina Hastings, Director of Talent Acquisition and Development, about her philosophy, her strategy, and her success.

Christina runs a personal Twitter, @aRecruitersPOV, as well as @BPEdCareers. Like many organizations, however, social media is no single worker’s full-time job. An associate, KelliAnn Holly, contributes to the Bridgepoint accounts.

On Twitter, Christina and KelliAnn create themes for each month: January’s was #NewYearNewYou. February’s was #WhatDoYouLove. March’s is #GiveBack, which emphasizes charity and volunteering. The duo also came up with themes for each day of the week:

Monday – #HotJobs
Tuesday – #JobAdvice, tips for resumes, interviewing, and the job search)
Wednesday – #Development, as in “How do you become a better you?”
Thursday – Throwback Thursday, as in “What was your recruiter’s first job?
Friday – What to do around town, highlighting shops and restaurants near Bridgepoint’s locations in San Diego, Denver, and Iowa.

aRecruitersPOV on Twitter

“It’s important to speak on behalf of the brand and as a member of the brand,” she told me. She believes in “profersonalism,” a combination of individual personality and corporate culture that conveys a personal yet professional message. “People would rather connect with a person than a company,” Christina said.

Christina has three expectations for anyone contributing to her department’s social media: Be yourself, support the brand, and drive everything back to the brand.

Bridgepoint’s TAD department is responsible not only for hiring, but also developing, training, and engaging employees. Christina uses the hashtag #TADculture to give an inside look at the employee experience. Her goal is to tweet three to five times a day, with at least one photo. When she and KelliAnn recently ran out of images, they spent their lunch break roaming their San Diego office, taking photos.

For inspiration, Christina looks to @FordCareers and @GenMillsCareers, who communicate their culture “without being one giant billboard.”

Christina and KelliAnn also manage Bridgepoint Education Careers’ 11 boards and more than 400 images on Pinterest. “We visually showcase what the culture looks like on the inside,” she told me. “It lets candidates peek behind the curtain. If someone’s cousin says, ‘this company looks cool and my cousin should work there,’ then we did our job.”

One board features photos of the Bridgepoint recruiters, complete with Twitter handles (and the #TADculture hashtag for good measure). Another is devoted to inspirational quotes. Christina is planning “Behind the Bridge,” a board that will serve as a tour of Bridgepoint’s San Diego workplace. “We’ll show you where you’ll park on your first day, and pin photos of our gym – and even the best time to use it!”

Bridgepoint Education Careers on Pinterest

Christina says she models her efforts after the Pinterest boards of Intuit Careers, Target Careers, and a Brandemix Social Media Superstar, Taco Bell Careers.

She plans to expand to YouTube, but is waiting for a bigger content library. “If we can’t produce videos on a consistent basis, is it worth it to be on YouTube? I want to have 20 videos before I feel like I can create a YouTube channel.”

Social media recruiting efforts can be difficult to measure, but Christina says she increased social hires from 4% to 7% of all hires last year. Most companies peak at 10%, but Christina would like to eventually reach 20%. With goals that bold, it’s obvious why Bridgepoint Education Careers, and Christina Hastings, are Social Media Recruiting Superstars.

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Making Great Employer Videos




Job-seekers don’t want to see another “Harlem Shake” video; they want to learn about your workplace, your culture, and your employees. Here are some tips for creating a compelling employer video.

The Harlem Shake Does Not A Culture Make

It’s almost impossible to believe that an internet sensation combining
some of my favorite topics — workplace culture, internet trends, viral videos — could manage to turn me off but yes, it’s happened.

The explosion of Harlem Shake memes has put me on a rant as I wonder: Is it really good for your company’s brand? 
You say it makes your employee culture seem fun? I’m sure it was fun for the people in it and the hours it took to prep and shoot, but next week will it look as stale as your holiday party pictures from 2011?

You say the video differentiates you in the marketplace? Considering you’re doing almost exactly the same thing as Dr. Pepper, Puma, Intel, Rackspace and dozens of other companies, probably not. At this point, there are probably more companies that haven’t made these
videos than those that have. In my mind, your brand may be a follower instead of a leader.

Yes, your employees seem to be having fun, but if I’m an applicant, Ijust want a job. I have a degree, valuable skills, and a creative mind. I care about pay, flexibility, benefits, and work-life balance. I care about integrity and ethics and social responsibility. I care about travel and conferences and taking my dog to work. I want to see videos that speak to the things I think are important from the people you think are important.

If you think like me, I have great news. Today marks the start of TED2013 conference. More than 70 speakers from 14 cities and six continents will be delving into world issues, personal identity, spirituality, and music. It’s virtually guaranteed that these activists (like Bono), thought leaders, economists, and politicians will not be dancing. I encourage you to watch riveting talks by remarkable people and hear ideas worth spreading.If you don’t think like me, here’s a site dedicated to the more than 60 advertising agencies agencies doing the Harlem Shake. 

Guest Post: Create a Zappos-Like Culture of Customer Service With Performance Metrics

We’ve written about Zappos’ great social media efforts, but the online shoe retailer has other impressive qualities, too. In this week’s guest post, Software Advice’s Ashley Furness tells you how to create a Zappos-like culture of customer service using performance metrics.

It seems traditional marketing increasingly turns away customers in today’s Yelp and social media-obsessed world. Advertising, PR, and other promotional spending fall on deaf ears while bad messages travel further, faster.

This has prompted a sea-change in the way some companies approach their marketing budget. Could a Zappos-level of customer service provide a better return on investment?

“Zappos invests in the call center not as cost, but the opportunity to market,” Zappos Loyalty Manager Joseph Michelli explained to me recently. He authored a whole book on the concept, called The Zappos Experience. This has resulted in as much as 75 percent of their sales coming from return customers, who spend on average 2.5 times more than first-timers.

So how do you create this Zappos-like culture? It starts with the basics – performance metrics.

It’s About the Wow Moments
Making the customer feel appreciated is a priority for Zappos. They do this by grading calls on a 100-point scale they call the “Happiness Experience Form.” Every agent is expected to maintain a 50-point average or higher. This score is based on several factors, including:

  • Whether or not the agent tried to create a personal emotional connection with the caller
  • Whether or not the agent continued the conversation if the customer responded positively
  • Whether or not the agent identified and responded to the customer’s unstated needs
  • And whether or not the agent gave a “wow” experience or went above and beyond

“Customer service creates an environment of one-to-one communication. That intimacy creates a special opportunity to build a relationship as opposed to a top-of-mind impression through advertising,” Michelli said.

At the end of the month, management identifies agents with less than a 50-point average on the Happiness Experience Form. Those agents receive extra training. Top performers are rewarded with paid hours off and other incentives.

Watch Those Idle Chats
Zappos also monitors “abandonment time,” or periods when an agent has a chat session open even though the customer already disconnected from the chat. The reason this is so important is two-fold:

One, idle chats are a symptom of chat avoidance – or the agent purposefully creating conditions so they don’t have to respond; and two, when agents aren’t responding, customers wait longer. The longer they wait, the more apt they are to abandon the session.

This strategy zeroes in on the cause of unproductivity in the chat setting – idle chats – without deterring agents from expressing the values in the Happiness Experience Form.

Still Measuring Call Quantities?
Zappos’s longest call on record lasted more than eight hours, and guess what? This interaction was lauded by leadership as a stellar example of serving the customer.

“It’s more important that we make an emotional connection with the customer, rather than just quickly getting them off the phone,” says Derek Carder, Customer Loyalty Operations Manager for Zappos.

Instead of valuing quick time to resolution or processing high call volumes, Zappos looks at the percentage of time an agent spends on the phone. Every agent is expected to spend 80 percent of their time on the phone, in chat, or in an email response. This metric is a way to empower the team and to utilize time in a way that best promotes customer loyalty.

Attendance is Key
Absenteeism can be a huge detractor from your customer service productivity. Zappos uses a program they call Panda to combat this trend. Employees receive a point for every day they miss work or come in late. Staff with zero points in a given period receive a varying number of paid hours off. These hours can be accrued and stacked for an entire paid day off.

This decreases the days missed by employees, but also increases job satisfaction. What Zappos-level strategies does your company use to create a customer-centric culture? Let us know by commenting here.

Ashley Furness is a market analyst with Software Advice.

Why Zappos is a Social Media Superstar

As many of you know from my speaking engagements 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.” Past winners include State Farm and PepsiCo

Today I’d like to recognize a company that’s taken a fantastic brand and brilliantly expanded it into the social space: Zappos.
I’ve written about my love for Tony Hseih’s online shoe company before, but now it gives me great honor to truly call it a Superstar.

With more than 2,600 YouTube subscribers, 260,000 Facebook Likes, and almost 2.6 million Twitter followers (across seven accounts), Zappos has definitely made a social media splash. But lots of footwear and apparel companies appeal to young social media users. How does Zappos stand out? Here are a few reasons.

Website Videos – Instant, Honest, and Short
Zappos created a team of ten employees to make videos about every single one of its shoes. The videos are done on-site and are unscripted. Since starting the program in 2009, these employees have now created around 100,000 videos. They’re all under a minute, so that customers don’t get bored. Even better? Each video has three prominent sharing options – Twitter, Facebook, and HTML code for bloggers. The videos allow Zappos employees to share their love of the product and encourage customers to share their love on social media.

Social Recruiting, Too
Zappos offers a YouTube channel just for recruiting, with 33 videos. The content ranges from employee interviews to a look at the Zappos HQ fitness center to advice on how to dress for your job interview. This is a fantastic resource for job-seekers, with each video showcasing the spirit of fun and customer service that is the foundation of the Zappos brand. On Twitter, ZapposInsights and Inside_Zappos both offer a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s unique culture, with lots of interaction with followers.

Their Own Personal Pinterest
The Zappos website has a unique feature that really makes it a superstar. It’s called the TweetWall; a collection of tweets from anyone who has linked to a Zappos product. It’s a form of crowdsourcing, where customers can see what styles have the most buzz. And instead of encouraging fans to tweet about the company, Zappos is rewarding fans for already doing it. Fans know this, and may tweet about Zappos just get a spot on the coveted wall.


Through YouTube, multiple Twitter profiles, employee videos, and the TweetWall, Zappos has created a virtuous circle: fans celebrate the brand because the brand recognizes the fans who celebrate it.


For sharing videos, tweets, and photos with their fans, and allowing their fans to share content in return, I name Zappos a SoMe Superstar!

Do you know of a brand that deserves superstar status? Drop me a line.

Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch, Part 3

2007: A year most notably known for the introduction of the iPhone, Jack Kevorkian’s release from prison, the Congressional Medal of Honor presented to the Dalai Lama and 2 Brandeblog entries entitled Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch, Part 1 and Part 2.

Edgar Schein, the MIT management professor who actually coined the phrase “culture eats strategy for lunch,” wrote that the the success of a company is determined not by its business plan but by its people.

Welcome to Part 3, as we watch with interest Goldman Sachs’ loss of more than $2 billion in market value after a searing indictment of their culture in the New York Times by one of their own people, Greg Smith in his very public letter of resignation. 

While we may think that Goldman Sachs became one of the world’s most successful investment banks because of aggressive business practices, Smith reveals that it was actually because of its employees.  “[C]ulture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’ success,” Smith writes. Culture “was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years.”

Smith reflects on his former “pride” and “belief in the organization.” This is the real-deal—the emotional connection Brandemix strives to embody in each of our branding assignments.

It’s the living illustration of the service-profit chain, a philosophy that proves engaged, empowered employees may increase company profits by as much as 22%. For an investment bank, that could mean billions of dollars.

Today, Smith rues the lack of “humility” and “integrity,” two of Goldman’s core values which also include placing clients’ interests first, commitment to excellence and innovation, and teamwork. Smith calls out Goldman’s two leaders, President Gary Cohn and CEO Lloyd Blankfein, for “the decline in the firm’s moral fiber.”

No surprise. Culture starts from the top down and, as I tell clients, senior leaders must buy in, live the values, and set an example for everyone else.

I’m not alone; Frederick E. Allen, the Leadership Editor at Forbes, responded to Smith’s letter with an article titled To Save Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein Must Go. 

If you’re ever attended a Brandemix presentation on Employer Branding, you know how important I think an organization’s values are to employee acquisition and retention. Well, here’s that idea in reverse: a lack of values is actually causing an employee of 12 years to leave a lucrative position with bonus money on the table.

Smith isn’t just saying that the new culture isn’t for him. He’s not saying that it isn’t right. He’s saying that the culture threatens the firm’s very existence. Because the culture puts profits ahead of clients, Smith makes the equation clear: “Without clients you will no longer make money. In fact, you will not exist.” 

Today’s disgruntled employees are sharing their stories to more than their friends and colleagues. It’s a world of One Brand, and they are speaking to your clients, your vendors, and your applicant pool.

Is your organization’s culture is the best it can be?  Let’s find out.

Four Ways to Keep Your Employees Committed to Staying Healthy

How Well Are You Doing Wellness?

Absenteeism costs American businesses around $200 billion a year. Promoting wellness at your company not only reduces these losses but lowers your health insurance costs. You may already have bike racks in your parking lot and healthier snacks in your vending machines, but that’s not enough to increase your workers’ health and productivity. Below are four ways, from low-tech to cutting-edge, to keep your employees committed to staying healthy.

1. Copy Costco

The future of corporate wellness programs is to make them social. Wellness-only Facebook pages allow employees to check contest deadlines, share advice, and give each other encouragement. Costco’s Facebook page is particularly effective in getting information to its employees, answering questions, and posting photos of activities.

Similarly, Facebook Events lets companies invite employees to marathons, health screenings, and other activities. Make you let the world’s most popular social network work for you.

2. Scratch That Itch

Contests can be social, too. For example, though giveaways are fun, they don’t provide a lot of participation.; once you’ve entered, you’re done. The solution? Scratch-to-win cards. The more an employee participates in the wellness program, or the more benchmarks she passes, the more cards she’ll receive. Scratching off cards is much more engaging than a prize drawing, and colleagues can gather around to cheer each other as the employee discovers what she won. If you have workers who play the lottery, they’ll love scratch cards.

3. Game the System

Virtual gaming is the next step, and software tools like Bunchball’s Nitro can apply game mechanics to any campaign, including corporate wellness. Participants can earn points and rewards each time they take a health quiz, practice for a marathon, or for each day they don’t smoke. Games appeal to people’s innate love of status and competition. New challenges and an ever-changing online leaderboard can ensure that everyone participates, anyone can win, and no one ever gets bored.

4. Life Support

Another social aspect to a wellness program is the support group. Biking and running groups get to exercise together, but the workers trying to quit smoking, or eat healthier, or manage stress are often left to fend for themselves. Creating a group lets them support each other and reward each other’s success. A support group could be a half-hour weekly meeting (with or without management), a special site or message board on your intranet, or a public social support site like 43Things.

Consider all these social aspects when you create or redesign your company’s wellness program. From Facebook to games to old-fashioned face-to-face “social networking,” making your corporate wellness program social can keep your employees engaged, productive, and healthy.

The Toyota Way Back

According to the NY Times today, Toyota’s chief executive, Akio Toyoda, told investment analysts that communication was to blame for the crisis surrounding the company, not defects on its cars. Mr. Toyoda said the company had been the subject of “negative reporting”.

He has also pledged to have more communication with his dealers and has claimed to already taken ‘a number of important steps’ to improve communications with regulators and customers, who’s loyalty he believes, will help them through the situation.

Isn’t there a group he’s missing?

Given the recent safety problems, negative publicity and downward stock performance, it might also be an optimal time for Toyota to consider an internal employee communications campaign to reinvigorate the brand from the inside out.

Exactly 9 years ago, in April 2001, the Toyota Motor Corporation adopted the “Toyota Way” an expression of values and conduct guidelines that all Toyota employees should embrace.

Under the two headings, or “pillars,” of Respect for People and Continuous Improvement, Toyota sums up the values and conduct guidelines with the following five principles:
• Challenge
• Kaizen (improvement)
• Genchi Genbutsu (go and see)
• Respect
• Teamwork

A branding expert like myself, might consider these to be their brand pillars, and had they stayed true to them, they may have avoided the problems they face today.

For Toyota, finding internal support may not be initially easy. Consider 2 of the 14 Principles that are part of the Toyota Way:

Principle 1
• Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

Principle 5
• Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.

With more than 50,000 employees in the US alone, Toyota needs to launch internal research to uncover the teams applying these principles, and then highlight the positive efforts on its business.

Through a solid communication campaign that shows the relevance of the Toyota Way in today’s troubled climate, and the recognitionof those embracing the Toyota Way, they can continue to build on the success of their strong culture.

It’s another case of a brand gone bad, but I believe that the Toyota Way can be their way back to the top.

Now can someone just tell Mr. Toyoda about BRANDEMiX?

Employees Find Trulia Happiness

Sami is the coo & co-founder of trulia, a real estate search engine that people (like me) find homes for sale. This from his blog:

Employee happiness dashboard – Really?

We typically have a small group lunch with all new employees and one of the questions I often ask is “What is different at Trulia? What can we do better?” Erika, offered an eye-opening response yesterday: “During my career, I’ve never worked for a company that surveys and listens to all the employees on a regular basis, not to mention shares all the results with the entire company in an all-hands meeting.”

I thought that – tuning into employee happiness – was what every respectable organization does in a professional environment, where the most valuable assets of the company walk out the door every evening (sometimes in the morning). We even have fresh new Harvard University backed research proving that happiness is actually contagious between people.

So they started asking, ranking (on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the best) and tracking 2 simple questions from August 2005 until November 2008:

  • I like to go to work every morning
  • Work at Trulia is fun

Here’s what he has to say about the results: Overall we have had very high “happiness” scores throughout our company life, about 4.25 on a 1 to 5 scale, which is especially impressive considering we have grown rapidly from just 4 people to about 85 today as well as moved offices three times during this period – We’ve noticed some annual cyclicality tied into summer time, all company off-site event and holiday season – Our team reacted into the overall economic downturn and dozens of other (online) media companies’ aggressive lay-offs; after we announced that we would not do lay-offs, but continue hiring selectively, the index bounced back again (last month)

While we may not be able to reduce the secret of happiness to a single number (and hopefully never will!), we have found that these anonymous surveys are an invaluable tool in adjusting and improving our culture, as well as other company practices to stay on the right growth track!

My favorite part of Sami’s blog was found at the end —

How’s your daily happiness and excitement level when you walk into your office? If you’re looking for something, possibly greener grass, check out our jobs page.

This “always be selling” approach to blogging and jobbing was really great, especially for a bean counter. But may I just say that with such a great culture and story, I think the Jobs page could be better? I guess I’m always blogging and selling too. BRANDEMiX adds Trulia to my list of companies to watch.