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Linking up to gain a vital digital edge

Published on Monday, 16 Jun 2014
Steve Shepherd
Photo: Siu Ming
The rapid evolution of technology is paving the way to the adoption of digital channels and applications in organisations’ employer-branding strategies. But using apps and social platforms to enhance an evolving employer brand can be daunting, hence the importance of adopting a step-by-step approach based on engagement priorities.
These were the observations and recommendations of Steve Shepherd, group director at Randstad Australia, who visited Hong Kong to expounded social media and digital strategies in relation to employer branding at the 2014 Randstad Award gala dinner. “With many tools available to support delivery and analytics of digital initiatives, [adopting a digital employer-branding strategy] is a venture that most likely needs collaboration between HR and IT,” Shepherd said.
He quoted Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to accentuate the importance of working together in creating a credible employer brand. “Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does.”
Shepherd urged both employers and employees to be involved in creating an authentic employer brand. “It has to be lived by everyone who works for the company and, crucially, anyone who represents it,” he said. “It doesn’t begin at the top C-suite and sits with HR alone – all levels and departments should be involved.”
A united strategy among key stakeholders – for example marketing, HR, communications, PR and IT – is the key to ensuring a consistent approach to managing brand assets, he said.
Shepherd wasn’t surprised that online reputation management is fast becoming big business. “Social media has impacted the way people interact at a fundamental level, giving way to a greater demand for transparency and increasing the influence of word of mouth and referrals. It can quickly expose what we are from what we say we are,” he explained.
As the number of social media users in Asia continues to rise, social media applications are rapidly developing into crucial platforms for brands to interact and communicate with consumers and prospective jobseekers. “Understanding how your company is perceived and by whom, and joining conversations about things you stand to care for, are key competitive advantages to participating in social media,” Shepherd said.
Since the social media landscape is growing and changing quickly, Shepherd stressed that “it is key for business leaders to understand what channels their current and potential employees use the most and leverage these channels”.
He concluded that, at the end of the day, building an employer brand requires two virtues: patience and consistency. Employer branding, after all, is an evolutionary process.
“Global organisations have to take into account cultural and geographical issues, and adopt the relevant and dominant channels of communication, which vary across markets,” he said. “It’s a huge undertaking made greater by the fact that every recruitment, talent and employee touch point needs to be accurate and consistent. If inconsistent, the consequences can be quite grave.”

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