Candidates want to hear what your employees have to say about working for your company. In fact, employee stories are seen as more sincere and believable than content coming directly from your corporate brand voice.
This is exactly why employee generated content and employee advocacy have become such popular and effective approaches to Recruitment Marketing and communicating an organization’s employer brand and attracting talent.
If you’re not familiar with employee generated content (yet!), here’s a quick definition for you:
What is employee generated content?
Employee generated content (EGC) is defined as the images, videos, blogs and other content forms that your employees are creating themselves. This content is often shared on employees’ social media accounts, and ideally (from an employer branding standpoint) offers insight into the employee experience at your company.
Employee generated content is one type of employee advocacy, but employees can also advocate for your brand in other ways such as by simply liking, resharing or commenting on a post your corporate brand puts out, leaving a positive review on an employer review site or saying positive things about your organization to their friends and professional network.
Why is employee generated content so important and effective right now?
Both employee generated content and employee advocacy have been important strategies in the recruitment marketers’ toolkit for some time because they convey a certain level of authenticity that candidates and consumers are craving online.
Additionally, with the rise of remote work, employee generated content is becoming even more effective because the gap between work and home, personal and professional, has lessened. More and more, people want to see the human side of your organization and your people can share that perspective for you.
And from a logistical perspective, this content approach works well because it’s a lot harder to collect and curate employee content when we’re no longer working in the same shared office space. You can’t stop by a colleague’s desk and ask to snap a picture of them doing great work. You can’t take photos at in-person company social events, because they’re not happening. Employee generated content steps in to fill that void and share employer brand information when we can’t source other content types as easily anymore.
However, encouraging and enabling employees to produce this type of content isn’t always straightforward. Depending on the industry you work in and your employee demographic, it can actually be downright challenging to get people involved and sharing their perspectives on social. However, once you get your employee base on board, employee generated content can be a very time- and cost-effective way to populate your social feeds and send important employer brand messages to candidates.
So, if you’re looking to get started, or want to find ways to encourage more of your employees to produce and share content regularly, here are 10 tips from practitioners doing a stand-out job at encouraging, collecting and sharing employee generated content.
1. Create different channels for employees to send their content to
A few years ago, we started encouraging the use of the hashtag #lifeatpetsmart across all social channels. By reminding people to use this hashtag and sharing it in many employee communications, we’ve really popularized this approach. The hashtag has now been used by our employees more than 80,000 times!
However, we also created a secondary channel for sourcing employee generated content, in case employees didn’t want to share from their personal accounts or weren’t active on social media. To address this, we provide an email account that allows people to send us photos directly to post on their behalf on our Instagram and LinkedIn feeds. This secondary channel has been a great way to increase engagement and get content from employees who may otherwise not have shared their perspective.
2. Ask the highly engaged employees in your employee resource groups (ERGs) to lead the charge
We love connecting with our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for content because it ensures that we capture diverse perspectives from highly engaged employees. Throughout COVID-19, our ERGs have continued to host virtual events, giving our associates a space to feel connected. We’ve also built a relationship with the communication lead from each group and regularly encourage them to send us experience highlights so we can celebrate diverse employee experiences with a larger audience.
3. Recognize employees in company-wide communications to gain momentum
When employees regularly see their peers from across the organization creating and sharing fun social posts about their work, it encourages others to get involved too!
We send out an email every Friday highlighting the things happening in the Home Office, as well as in our stores. During COVID, some of this content has included photos of pets, work from home scenes, themed Zoom calls, work anniversaries and more. This communication brings extra joy to associate inboxes during stressful times and they often respond with their own content that ends up featured in an upcoming newsletter or on our social feeds.
Rally note: Dani Kaufman was the 2020 Rally Awards® Recruitment Marketing Rising Star! If you’d like to read more about some of the work and experiences that led to her winning this award, take a look at this Q&A with Dani.
4. Think about what kind of social media training your employees might need (or not need!)
A lot of companies have started offering training sessions for employee advocacy purposes. Larger organizations might require this more formal social media training to enable their entire employee base to participate and feel comfortable on social. This training typically includes an overview of social media guidelines, information on why they might want to get active on social, examples of great content, and tips on how to create and share social posts.
That being said, however, this might not be required for all organizations. When considering the right approach for your organization, think about your employee base: What’s the demographic? Are they already familiar with social media? Will some team members require more instructions in order to participate?
This type of analysis can advise the type of social training you put together and what you contain in your training materials. If your team is small and filled with lots of socially active employees, you may require less formal or intensive training.
5. Give your employees free rein to express themselves creatively
At Robots & Pencils, we tend to lean towards the lighter side from a training and guidelines perspective. This is the case for us because we’re a smaller team, and as a creative agency we have a lot of people who are very comfortable with expressing themselves on social media. As a result, we’ve taken the approach of encouraging our teams to post whatever they feel comfortable with and don’t push any firm guidelines on them.
A really good example of this are our Instagram takeovers. Our Instagram takeover stories start with a standard template that introduces the employee and their role, and then from there we give employees the reins to share their day and express themselves in whatever way they’d like.
Even if you work for a larger organization, you might find ways to encourage this type of employee creativity. You could do this by providing a list of social media “dos and don’ts” during training, and then provide a range of really great examples that exist within those parameters to give people ideas and showcase just how creative they can get.
6. Share your employee generated content on the channels that will help you achieve your talent objectives
As with any social media content strategy, it’s worth taking the time to think about which channels make the most sense based on what you’re looking to achieve. For us, at Robots & Pencils, we share our employee generated content on two primary channels in order to build employer brand awareness and increase careers site traffic.
First off, we use Instagram because the stories feature is a great way to allow people to have their voices heard and to share the authentic content they’re creating. People are looking for this type of content on the platform, and many candidates are now accustomed to visiting Instagram to pick up on culture cues from prospective employers. This acts as a great spot to build brand awareness and keep current and future candidates “warm” and interested in our brand.
We also leverage LinkedIn to reshare our employee generated content because historically it’s helped us to drive a lot of traffic back to our careers site. People are accustomed to looking for careers content on that platform and are more likely to actually take action and apply based on what they see there.
We also have plans to innovate and try new platforms for our employee generated content in the future. Currently we’re piloting an employee podcast internally and have plans to take it external this fall!
7. Recognize employees who take the time to share their stories
Our Employer Brand team always makes a conscious effort to thank and appreciate the employees who share their stories on social media. Our small, but mighty, team continuously monitors the content shared on social through our hashtag, #HARMANConnectsMe.
We don’t just look at the content and request rights to use it (via a user generated content tool called TINT), but we also comment on their posts. We engage in conversations with our employees. We show our interest in their efforts and look to make a stronger connection with them. We really see it as a partnership — and this helps give motivation for them to share more employee generated content in turn!
8. Build an employer brand ambassador network to create some momentum
When we launched our employer brand and employee value proposition, we also set up our “employer brand ambassador network.” This network comprises 240+ employees globally that have identified themselves, or have been identified by others, as someone who would like to communicate more about our culture at HARMAN. We send out a monthly email highlight newsletter to keep them engaged. We also send direct emails to many of our employee ambassadors too — because one-on-one communication is always valuable too!
While working remotely, it’s even more important to keep up communication with our employer ambassador team. To address this, throughout COVID and our remote work period, we’ve increased the number of requests in the newsletter we send out to ambassadors, including statements like: “we want you to share your current working situation on LinkedIn.”
At the same time, we also created some resources to “spice up” their posts. For example, for Pride Month we created a Pride sticker they could add to any photo they wanted to share. It’s another great way to give them something to rally behind and encourage them to create and share employee generated content.
Here are some of the Pride posts that employees created, collected into a video. Many of the posts feature the stickers we provided to our ambassadors:
9. Repurpose your employee generated content in new and different ways
We also started to make more videos from the content that our employees were posting. We started to see some trends and themes and went with it.
For example, we saw a lot of people sharing pictures of their pets during the pandemic. So, we decided to pull all of this content into a “recap-type” video and share that from our social channels.
We also created similar recap style videos showing the work from home experience, working at home with kids and healthy lifestyle spotlights. These have gone over SO well! We make sure to share these videos in our Employer Brand monthly highlights email too!
10. Track performance and share employee generated content “wins” with your stakeholders
We closely track how all of our employee generated content is performing. We then share some of our performance metrics with internal groups to get more support for our employee generated content approach and to encourage more content to be sent in over time.
One way we do this is by sending monthly emails out to our talent ambassadors and talent acquisition team sharing recent wins so they’re motivated to contribute more content or get others on their team to do so.
Some of the recent “wins” we’ve shared with these groups include:
- Launching a new section on our careers website that shows what the interim employee experience looks like during the “new normal.” Our “Stay Connected” page features a range of employee generated content pieces. Since the page launch in June, the page and connected sub-pages have been organically viewed 3,000+ times and users are staying on the page for 1.9 minutes.
- We started a new YouTube playlist called Life at HARMAN to showcase employee generated video content. In less than 2 months, the 12 videos we’ve added here have received 4,600+ organic views.
- On our HARMAN Careers Facebook page, we’ve seen our reach increase by 15-20% month over month since March 2020. This is when we went remote and began focusing on employee generated content primarily.
In addition to communicating these wins over email, this also gets pulled into our Employer Brand dashboard and shared with leadership so we can prove the value and continue to invest in employee generated content.
We hope these 10 tactics and strategies for sourcing employee generated content inspire some new ways for you to approach this at your own organization too.
Sometimes it can take a bit of thought and effort up front to start sourcing employee generated content at scale, but once things gather momentum you might be surprised at how effective this approach can be for attracting talent and engaging current employees too.