Social Media Won’t Do a Thing for Your Employment Brand if Your Brand Simply Sucks.

I’m a fan and advocate of social media. Use it for your professional development as a recruiting or HR pro. Use it to find and source candidates as a part of your recruiting efforts. And the other area I find myself spending a bit of time talking about at conferences and such is using social media for employment branding. The potential is amazing when you think about how accessible it makes your organization when you use tools like Facebook and Twitter to promote your employment brand. It’s instantly friendlier, more approachable, likable… and of course, think about the message it sends about how cool or progressive you are as an organization that you’ve got a presence on Facebook. Right? Your brand immediately gets street cred for being ahead of the curve.

David_Goliath_cbig-771648 And I like to think about social media as the great equalizer. Let’s think about employment branding in terms of David and Goliath. And let’s use Google as an example. Google easily makes it to the Fortune list of great places to work, a great mechanism for enhancing your employment brand and attracting candidates. But Google has the money that can fuel a culture that’s rich with toys and perks which helps to land them on that list. They have the money for marketing and PR folks to do the leg work of submitting to sit in Fortune’s lap. And they also have the money to invest in their leaders – if not dedicated HR-ish staff to help continually cultivate and sustain the culture – all of which feeds into creating the big, bad employment brand they have. So, let’s call Google the Goliath in this situation.

But let’s say you’re a small organization – 100 to 500 people. How do you get the attention of Fortune magazine to drive candidates your way? Maybe you can’t, and don’t, and will never make that Fortune list. But what if you could use Facebook and Twitter and other tools to evangelize about your greatness and reach the talent pool you want to hopefully hire? These tools are largely free and anyone can use them – you just need to have the creativity, patience to build and sheer will to jump in. You’ve gotta be gutsy and be willing to go against giants. And for that reason, let’s call the small company David.

Pre-social media… there’s just no way David would have been able to compete with Goliath. A small company of 200 would have to do a lot – a LOT – to get exposure equivalent to landing on Fortune’s best places to work list. Social media though… what a great equalizer. Plus think of the added benefits of what social media does for your brand being conversational!

If we think about your social media tools being like a sling though, you’ve gotta have some stones to hurl at Goliath because Twitter doesn’t come loaded. Neither does Facebook. Which is the thing about social media for employment branding, and the point I try to hammer home whenever I’m talking on this topic… to use social media effectively for your employment brand means you’re giving people a glimpse into what it’s like to work at your organization and the promise you’re making to your employees. But you can’t make any of that stuff up. If your workplace is toxic and sucks, social media can’t save you. It won’t help you with your recruiting efforts. It’s not going to help you attract people to your organization. You’ve gotta go back and solve those issues first.

Social media isn’t the second coming. I’m the first to admit that. It’s just another tool for the shed… but it’s only going to work if you have the basics mastered in the first place. Learn to walk before you run, folks. And once you’ve started running, run like hell and hurl everything you can at Goliath.

FOT Background Check

Jessica Lee
Jessica Lee is a VP of TA at Marriott International where she leads a team that enables the company to think big, broad and boldly about all things talent acquisition and in effect, keeps them relevant and ahead of the curve in how they attract and acquire top talent. Don't be fooled by that fancy pants title and description though, she's still an everyday HR gal in the trenches at the core. SPHR certified, a decade and a half into trench HR life... she can whip up a corrective action plan or source for your purple squirrel in a heartbeat. Talk to Jessica via EmailLinkedInTwitter or Facebook... See Jessica's riffs and rants on Fistful of Talent here...


  1. This is an excellent article for people that want to spread their brand on social medial sites to attract experienced real estate agents. Our recruiting tool AccuRecruiter is a tool that uses social media to attract talent. It actually can be modified to fit other employment arenas as well.

  2. Joshua Letourneau says:

    You’re describing the difference between authentic and unauthentic marketing.
    It’s easy to marketing unauthentically. Just tell a story and hope people believe it. Authentic marketing means telling the truth, and then standing behind it.
    The irony is that it’s easier to create an FB group and pump out job postings every few days than it is to fix what’s actually broken in the first place.
    Having a SM presence isn’t a differentiator anymore; rather, it’s how you execute the presence. However, independent of the idea . . . and the unpacking of the idea itself . . . is the authenticity of the story you’re telling through SM. If you’re posting jobs to simply push people to the same old ATS black-hole wasteland of candidate corpses, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself.
    It’s also the reason that people will walk on a treadmill for a half hour at low speeds . . . instead of pumping some serious iron (or doing any form of truly rigorous exercise). It’s easier to make believe you’re training – it’s easier to fool everyone around you that you’re actually doing something. But when you haven’t lost a pound of fat or gained a pound of muscle in 3 years, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself.

  3. I will have to disagree with your David and Goliath analogy. Yes there many companies on fortunes list that have deep pockets and resources, which allows them to create a brand as a company, then a brand as an employer; however, there are many small companies in niche industries that aren’t household names but individuals whom work in those industries know companies that are not only the best (in terms of products or services but also the best as a great employer.) We might not hear about these companies because they don’t make the Fortune list and the average American has never heard of the company before because they aren’t a household name. But if you survey small business’s in their respective industries you will find that even a David can have a strong employer brand; again it might not be a household name but it’s a name that is very popular for those who work in that industry. Ever heard of Walter P Moore, most likely no, but if you ask a Civil Engineer I bet they will know because Walter P Moore is ranked as one of the top Civil Engineering Firms for which to work as a medium size company.

    Consider the demographics and distribution of employees working for small business’s. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 99% of all American companies have fewer than 500 employees, and over half of all American employees work for a small business.

    You do make a good point about utilizing social media for branding. I would say that companies with deep pockets are well ahead of the game in terms of leveraging social media. EMC, a fortunate 500 company, is a perfect example.  


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