A company's brand is created not just by the products it sells but also by its work culture and public perception. In competitive fields like tech and advertising, having a popular company brand is especially vital in attracting the most qualified candidates. According to Jonah Berger, professor at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, the best way to build a talent brand is by leveraging word of mouth and turning your employees into ambassadors for your company.
"Stop selling, start storytelling," Berger said during LinkedIn's annual Talent Connect conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. The marketing professor explained that candidates are more likely to trust information that is authentic and relevant because "no one wants to be friends with a walking advertisement."
In his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Berger laid out the psychology behind social sharing and word of mouth. According to Berger, the same principles can be applied to sharing your company's brand to attract new talent.
Find Your Special Sauce
The most common criticism of viral messaging is that some companies are just not interesting enough to get 10 million views on YouTube. Berger disagrees. "You can get people to talk about anything," he said. For example, blender maker Blendtec discovered their machines could blend iPhones and made popular videos showing them doing it.
Empower Your Employees
"Everyone likes to brag," Berger said. So why not give your employees a reason to brag about your company by providing them with special perks and insider information? They will be encouraged to share how they've been rewarded as a form of social currency.
LinkedIn expanded on this concept when it emailed its most active users telling them where they ranked as top influencers. Users then shared their ranking and generated buzz for the LinkedIn brand.
Create Brand Triggers
Breakfast is to Cheerios as the beach is to Corona. These companies have both succeeded in creating triggers that leverage their respective brands. "Top of mind is tip of the tongue," Berger said. How did Google become associated with innovation when 90 percent of its business is simply inserting ads into Web searches? According to Berger, it managed to create a trigger that sparked the interest of the best engineers in the world.
Put on a Show
What happens if your ideal employee is already settled at a different company? Show them what your company can offer, with authentic employee testimonials and high-profile recruiting events. "Built to show, built to grow," Berger said. "Tap into the herd effect and get people to flock to your company."
Berger cited the example of when consumers were first hesitant to buy the pricey new iPod. According to Berger, the best thing Apple did to convert consumers was to make the earbuds white. "It created social proof that other people were buying this new device," he said. "It turned the private act of purchase into a public statement."