106 Communications

6th Sense

Branding, Behaviour and Bots: a new paradigm for early careers engagement

April 2017 | Employer Brand

16-24 year-olds are the biggest communicators of any age group – and what is their communication of choice?  Instant Messaging.

The majority describe themselves as impatient (70%).  They want a pretty instant response.

And almost all (94%) of respondents feel it’s important to have a unique identity.

But this is not all about me, me, me.

Over 50% actively share articles/their opinions on social media to show their backing to a social issue/cause.

And they have a fairly traditional value set – seeing the importance of getting married, having children and home ownership.

So what does this mean for employers?

Let’s take a look.


Your brand is really important.  A lot of money goes in to making your brand attractive to customers and clients – and rightly so.  But how do you make it compelling to apprentices, students, graduates and beyond?  Simply create an EVP?  That will only get you so far.  Today, you’ve got to be a lot more agile and involve your people so much more.  We know that opinion is now formed on social media more than anywhere else, peer recommendations are the magic dust, and so it means that if you’re not doing something that people want to share, you end up being the next scroll-over wallpaper.


So how should you adapt your brand strategy to appeal to your target audience?

Advocacy Programme – get your people involved in generating and sharing content.  We’re not talking about a few HR people.  Build a community of people from across the business to produce and publish content and suddenly you’ve got brand advocacy that is so much more powerful than you pumping out news releases from the PR team. It’s engaging for the people involved (you can have prizes for the best and most effective content) and is much more effective in reaching the people you want to hire.

Video and Streaming – we are a world of watchers. Watching TV, videos, stories, cats, and more cats.


So video is more important than ever.  But these days, doing the showpiece corporate thing just won’t wash with your audience.  Video needs to be tuned to your audience and the medium itself.  What works on Facebook may not be as relevant to LinkedIn, and why not stream – make more of the great experiences you offer?!

Social causes – forget the CSR fringe activities of yesteryear; get your people and potential hires involved in supporting causes that really do mean something to your organisation, and support it with cash as well as time.  There’s nothing worse than looking like you’re ticking a box; there’s nothing better than showing your corporate teeth and getting stuck into a cause which has lasting meaning to you and your colleagues.


No matter how big a brand you are, you rarely have a captive audience today.  People will invariably be ‘stacking’ – e.g. watching one thing and communicating about another – rather than ‘meshing’ – e.g. watching BGT and then following the #BGT conversation on Twitter.  In fact, we are squeezing a load of activity and content into our days:


So when marketing to young people, it’s important to assume that you are contending with hundreds if not thousands of other distractions.  So you need to be at your most diverting, your most courageous and your most fun.

Active engagement – there’s nothing wrong with using Hootsuite to publish a load of content; but real engagement means getting in there and engaging with people.  Yes, engaging with people.  Comment, talk, share insights and viewpoints; reach out to students and ask them questions and answer theirs.  It takes time, but the benefits are so much better than post after post after post after post.

But to do this, you need a personality.  We don’t mean you personally (that’s taken for granted!) – but one for your social media channels.  Decide on your characteristics, and put together some key principles – what you will talk about, what you won’t, whether you’re a campaigner or an educator, an emoji evangelist or just a stickler for grammar.  So whoever takes up the branded social media channel, it’s all done in a consistent voice.


Personality brings us nicely on to bots.

Artificial intelligence has been in the news a lot of late, for replacing us humans and taking away our jobs.  We’re going to look at one small area of AI today – the chatbot.

Bots, IMHO, have a great future.  You can order a pizza from Domino’s Chatbot (his name is Dom).  You can get the news from TechCrunch or CNN straight in to Facebook Messenger.  And of course, there’s Alexa – who has been proposed to more than 250,000 times!

Of course, there’s a big difference between a chatbot and a virtual assistant.  Chatbots can be created via a simple decision tree (you are guiding people to a specific piece of information/outcome), while virtual assistants are answering an almost infinite number of requests and require a big team and plenty of resource and investment. (Leave that to Amazon, Google and others!)

There are some great uses for chatbots – such as helping students to find the best placement programme for them or talking to apprentices about the recruitment process.  And here’s why:

  • It’s fun – who wouldn’t want to interact with a bot?
  • Instant – replies in milliseconds; what recruiter can do that?
  • And most important, easy to use – this is because it is done in ‘natural language’ – i.e. it’s a messaging app, only you’re talking to a bot rather than a real person.  This is possibly more intuitive for many young people today than using a web browser – and the bot can learn along the way.

The chatbot can ‘live’ in Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype, other apps, even for Alexa!

Here are some of the areas that we think bots will be useful for:

Support and Engagement – a bot is great at answering frequently answered questions and helping talent to find the information they need, within a certain decision tree.

Onboarding of talent – while there are many tools that can be used to help new recruits to climatise to an organisation, bots can be useful in answering questions and helping individuals to either get information or keep them informed about what they need to know.

News and broadcasting – once you’ve got an active community, it’s a great way to keep them interested and involved.

Candidate Experience – why not have a bot for helping people to understand the candidate experience and what they need to do at different stages.  Much more interesting than the typical PDF of hints and tips.

Employee Benefits – when people are onboard, you can start to use bots to communicate with colleagues about their benefits and how to take advantage of them.  Maybe they are sometimes more likely to listen to a bot than to HR!?

So, in short:

  • Get your people involved in your brand and sustainability story (and fully embrace video).
  • Be agile in your engagement – it will mean so much more to your audience.
  • Embrace bots; they can help you in ways humans or even other tech just can’t.

To find out more, email Henry and set up a coffee to talk branding, behaviour and bots.  We call it a Brandbotoccino!

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