Show, Don't Tell How Awesome Your Talent Brand Is

When I was writing my first novel, I got a ton of feedback from literary agents. Most of them told me this: “We love your story, but you need to show it, not tell it.”

Now that I’ve been working in social media for 10+ years (and am writing book number two) I get it. Because having a successful employer brand (or any brand, really) in social is all about showing, not telling.  Let me repeat (and feel free to tweet): to be a successful employer brand in social media, it’s all about showing, not telling.

“But how do I do that?” you ask.

Humanizing your brand

You’ve got to start getting human. You’ve got to start having conversations in social media as if you’re a person, not a company.

At Cisco, our team implemented a tone and voice for our social media efforts in May of 2015 that I call our “co-worker” persona. But it’s not a persona at all, because even though I’m developing strategy for and writing our social media posts, I am a co-worker to 70,000+ employees. I’m a potential co-worker to an infinite number of future new hires. It applies to everyone on our team, all of our recruiters and all of our employees. We are the talent brand.

So why talk like we’re big brother? When we’re the person sitting next to you, the person eating lunch with you in the café or the person you pass in the hallway. We’re talking about how awesome our company is at family gatherings, when we introduce ourselves at events or when we’re at a football game.

The most authentic (and believable) voice is the one within each of us. There’s a place for corporate speak, but social media – and especially social media for your employer brand – isn’t it. Because people who have been on social media since exiting the womb can sniff out marketing-speak a mile away, and ignore it. It’s all about relating – sharing in joy, fun, humor and even sometimes pain.

Getting human also means remembering that social media is the “Big Conversation”. Unless you love talking to yourself, a conversation involves more than one person. You can tell people how great your company is to work for until the cows come home, but unless you’re always showing it, and sharing when your employees show it (because Edelman’s Trust Barometer tells us that the majority of people don’t believe what a brand says, but they believe what employees say) you’re still being the same old corporate noise.

At Cisco, within a month of speaking like a co-worker to our Twitter followers, we could see a difference. Three and a half months in, we had doubled our Twitter followers. (Full disclosure, yes, we did use sponsored methods as well, but in the same voice, and would account for only about a third of our follower growth.) We’ve also tripled our Twitter reach. We landed on LinkedIn’s Most InDemand Employers in North America list for the first time, and we debuted in the top 50 (the list looks at activity among LinkedIn’s users, which is a direct result of Talent Brand.)

People loved our story. We just had to show it, not tell it.