In most cases, people want to buy your products for different reasons than they want to work for your company. This often requires companies to invest the resources and time to come up with different strategies for promoting their customer value proposition and employee value proposition.
But I believe there needs to be alignment, as it’s all connected under your one company brand. As the Manager of Social and Paid Media Marketing at Sonoco, a packaging solutions company, I want to share with you how my team and I are bridging this gap. By explaining the strategy behind the content and launch of our sustainability microsite, I hope to teach you how to create a content strategy that not only resonates with your customer and candidate audiences simultaneously, but that also showcases your company’s social impact through your people.
Creating an overarching content strategy
Before I started in my role managing all social media at Sonoco, we had multiple people across marketing, Communications and employer branding teams developing content for our social media channels. Although the content was aimed at different audiences, from customers to candidates, it all sat under the Sonoco brand, and there wasn’t an overarching theme or structure. With 12-14 business units spread across 40 social media profiles on Linkedin alone, we needed a better way to align our content strategy.
In wanting to appeal to both customer and candidate audiences, I first looked to our corporate channels to understand what kind of content was most popular. Not surprisingly, we discovered that people-centered content outperformed everything else.
We decided all of our content needs to be streamlined, and filtered through a content web of themes and clusters. We need to make sure it aligns with one or more of these key focus categories:
- People and opportunities
- Company news and information
Through our initial research, we realized these are the types of content that candidates and customers gain the most value from. And one of the most important topics we wanted to cover that appealed to all our audiences was our commitment to sustainability.
A microsite for multiple audience segments
We knew that we had a major launch coming up for our sustainability initiatives as an organization, and that we wanted to lead the launch with a social media plan. Using the content web, with our people-centered approach, we focused on the story of sustainability at Sonoco as told by the people bringing it to life — our leaders and employees.
Not only was this approach employer-brand-friendly, but by highlighting our sustainability efforts, it also encouraged eco-mindful customers to consider our products.
As the microsite stands today, it features 6 pages humanizing our business process for sustainability in the areas of leadership, design, sourcing, production, supply chain and end-of-life.
Finding and encouraging employee generated content
To create people-centered content, we needed our employees on board from day one. To accomplish this, we sent out a multi-week toolkit to our executive team via internal communications to find and uncover stories among their ranks. We sent one out to our sustainability council and executive team, and the employees themselves a couple weeks later.
These toolkits made it easy for leaders and employees to get involved, as they didn’t have to worry about taking time out of their already busy schedules to figure out how to source, craft and share their stories. Instead, they simply had to follow the instructions to answer what sustainability at Sonoco meant to them. We gave them the flexibility to create their own posts, write an article, provide a quote or use whatever medium worked for them.
But it’s important to note that content can originate from the ground up as well. As much effort as we put into outreach, we’re also just as happy to feature employees who bring stories to us of their own volition. When people raise their hand to identify a gap or opportunity, we’re here to listen and share.
Balancing between marketing promotion and employer brand storytelling
While we relied on our executive team to help source employee stories, the site is mainly focused on highlighting employees across all levels of the organization and locations — both to showcase the lesser-known heroes of our company, but also to better resonate with candidates and customers viewing our content.
If you visit our page now, for example, the first thing you’ll see is a video from our CEO, breaking down Sonoco’s progress, goals and overall commitment related to sustainable practices. But the rest of the pages are largely dominated by testimonials and quotes from individual contributors and employees across departments and seniority levels.
Similarly, the goal of our content across company social media channels is to tell the stories of (and bring attention to) our employees first,, followed by selling a product or gaining a lead. Consider this article, for example, which features an employee named Sam who found a solution to help Sonoco Recycling reduce waste while simultaneously increasing quality, decreasing downtime and ultimately saving time, money and resources.
Whereas focusing exclusively on our executive team or products might tip us too far into commercial marketing, sharing stories about how our employees build those products allows us to promote our employee value proposition and customer value proposition at the same time.
By creating a dedicated place to showcase our sustainability initiatives, and shedding light on the people that bring these initiatives to life, we successfully created a content strategy that appeals to multiple audiences.
In fact, within the first 2 weeks of launching the microsite, content shared on social media from our executive team and our employees drove 4X more traffic to our website, and doubled ‘time on page’, than content that was shared from our company social media channels.
By adopting this strategy to promote the great work being done by people at your workplace, whether in sustainability or another virtuous area, you too can hopefully bridge the customer-candidate gap.
Rally Note: To learn more about getting stories from employees, especially reluctant ones, join our upcoming webinar Getting Employee Stories From Reluctant Storytellers.