Is employer brand the blind spot in your social strategy?

Brand perception can make or break a business. Every leader understands this, yet many overlook a crucial aspect: the alignment of consumer and employer branding on social.

Traditionally, businesses have prioritised consumer branding as the lynchpin for sales and success. However, the seismic shifts brought about by the pandemic and the Great Resignation have underscored the importance of employer branding in attracting and retaining top talent.

Gone are the days when ‘office culture’ meant little more than a ping pong table and free biscuits, employers are now expected to not only communicate their values but to live by them – whether people come across them in-person or online. But blind spots persist. In an era defined by digital transparency, consumer and employer brand must be seen as equally essential parts of a unified marketing strategy.

The consistency conundrum

Consistency lies at the heart of a compelling brand narrative. The same vision and mission should sing out from all content regardless of target audience. Whether an employee in the office, talent looking at an ad, a customer buying a product, or a consumer scrolling through their social media feed, the experience of a brand should feel the same at all touchpoints. However, achieving this consistency can be challenging – especially when responsibility for the consumer and employer brands is often owned by different teams.

So, it’s no surprise that CMOs say a key hurdle isn’t just having an employer brand strategy in place, but connecting that strategy more effectively with brand and customer experiences (Forrester Q4 CMO Pulse Survey, 2023).

Although challenging, it’s possible. Take Patagonia, the outdoor apparel company, where sustainability and social responsibility form the bedrock of both consumer and employer branding. This harmony resonates with customers and employees alike, forging a cohesive brand environment across all interactions – both in-store and online.

Breaking down barriers

Organisational structure plays a pivotal role in determining the success. While small businesses may navigate cross-functional collaboration with ease, larger enterprises grapple with siloed teams, each focusing on disparate aspects of the brand. And this fragmentation undermines brand identity and cohesion, especially on social where misaligned content sticks out in feed.

That’s why harmonising these teams is not merely a nicety but a strategic must-have for creating a strong identity. This may sound easier said than done, but it doesn’t require a full restructure to get everyone on the same page. Instead, it can involve bringing everyone together for a morning off-site or workshop to combine their knowledge and shape a narrative that works all round. Then, ensuring regular communication, collaboration and establishing clear objectives won’t only facilitate continued knowledge sharing, but will encourage an integrated approach and consistent brand experience.

The power of people

People don’t follow business accounts to see heavily branded, ingenuine content. They want to laugh, be inspired, and hear real stories. With this emphasis on authentic content, brand messaging shouldn’t only be coming from the business itself, but employees sharing personal experiences on social media. That’s why many of our clients see value in sharing employee stories not only on LinkedIn, but on visual-first platforms where authentic storytelling and raw imagery reigns supreme – like Instagram and TikTok.

Wherever you’re posting, the key is to remember that the employer brand needs to be lived, not forced, for your people to buy into talking about the business. And while curated executive social content from the C-suite is beneficial to communicate business priorities in a personalised way, this must be supported by genuine employee content. After all, 60% of job hunters research potential employers on LinkedIn before applying, and 80% look at the social profiles of existing employees (Capitalize, 2022).

LinkedIn (cl) as a business exemplifies this approach – evident by countless employees using #LinkedInLife daily across social channels to speak about the company online. And this sense of community continues throughout its consumer messaging to the platform itself. So, if a platform user explores working at the business, the narrative created through branding is seamless end-to-end.

Charting the course forward

The crossover between consumer and employer branding is no longer a luxury but a necessity for business success. The good news? There are ways to craft a unified narrative that resonates with both customers and employees alike.

Firstly, one team doesn’t need to set guidelines for all. Instead, align messaging internally by getting all counterparts actively involved in creating the shared narrative. If you already have separate consumer and employer brands in place, the stakeholders and teams involved will have a wealth of knowledge from the steps already separately taken, so you won’t have to go back to the drawing board.

Then, when considering how to leverage social media authentically, this is where your people come in. Perhaps you could launch an incentive programme, to get the conversation started. Or maybe develop a brand ambassador scheme, where select employees take responsibility for capturing workplace content each week.

Whichever route you take, it’s no mean feat, so if you’re struggling to connect your employer, brand, and customer content, our team of social strategists can help. Get in touch with [email protected] for more information.