How to turn your employees into top recruiters

employee advocates

Employees who join a company through employee referral are likely to be better, more loyal performers according to the Financial Times. Additionally they’re more likely to be well informed about the company after seeking insight from their contact before applying.

Rather than setting an arbitrary goal for employee referrals, employees sharing job vacancies should be the goal every company strives towards. After all, nothing says you’ve created a great place to work than your current employees voluntarily encouraging their contacts to apply for available roles.

But how do you turn your top employees into valuable recruiters? Does splashing the cash work, or is it all about creating a great company culture?

1) Referral schemes

Many businesses offer financial incentives to employees once the candidate has accepted the job offer or completed their probation period. Although incentives carry huge weight they’re not right for every organisation, and ideally you want to create an environment that inspires your employees to spread the word without the promise of personal gain.

2) Company culture

Once a month I get a free massage at work. There’s a range of herbal teas in the kitchen cupboard, a fancy coffee machine at my disposal and I’m treated to a number of lunches and dinners with my colleagues each year. They’re small things that make a huge impact. And they’re the things I make small talk about with friends, acquaintances and new people I meet at networking events.

However company culture isn’t just about nice things you do for your staff and the talking point opportunities they offer. Ultimately it’s about the following:

Culture guides discretionary behaviour and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time.

Frances Frei and Anne Morriss, Harvard Business Review

Create a great company culture and you’ll only have to hire when you grow as a business – not to replace staff that wanted to leave.

3) Logistics

You can’t prevent employees from using social media and expect them to spread the word about open vacancies in their spare time. Trust your staff to manage their time appropriately and allow them to access Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin during working hours. You’ll soon see positive chatter about your business begin to grow as they share company updates, write positively about events at work and promote job opportunities to their network.

4) Communication

Employees need to know what positions are open in order to refer people. Even Google found that they needed to ‘nudge’ employees into making more referrals by reminding them about specific open positions. Whatever size company you are be transparent and share job descriptions and relevant opportunities, whether that’s in person at a company meeting or by sharing a post on the company intranet.

5) Showcase your business online

With a great company culture and employees in a position to share what’s good about your company online, make sure your social media profiles and website are up to date and represent your organisation’s culture too. Your employees best connections will spend time researching your company before applying for a position; help them get a good idea of who you are so they can make sure they’re a good fit.

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Content marketing for small businesses

content marketing for small business

The Guardian recently asked me to sit on their expert panel for their live Q&A on content marketing. It was a real honour to represent small businesses on the panel and I hope I was able to help a few small businesses get that bit closer to achieving their content marketing goals.

You can read the full Q&A over on the Guardian’s small business network and my recap of the chat here, but if you’re looking for a shorter read I’ve compiled most of my responses below.

Q) I’m a freelance marketing professional, mainly working for start-ups and social enterprises. Aware that there is just such a large amount of content out there, I’d be interested in hearing from the panel tips for making the content I produce for my clients stand out from the crowd and be more readily shared. ID328995

A) Creating interesting content is the best starting point. Look for content gaps in your industry that you can fill and consider what format that content should take. A webinar may add more value than just another blog post.

Q) “In a world where globally recognised brands like VW can destroy consumer confidence that has taken decades to achieve almost overnight, how can content marketing help an unknown automotive brand establish trust quickly?” kjohnston

A) Content marketing is helpful when building brand trust, but it takes time and patience. Viral content may help to create brand awareness quickly but regular, personalised content produced for different stages of the sales cycle will have the most value if you’re looking to build long-term relationships.

Q) How can you find the best topics to create content about that prospective customers will want to read? Nick Taimitarha

A) It’s essential that you understand your demographic and creating personas is a really useful way to do this. Once you understand who your audience is and what they want then you can move onto the fun stuff! One of my favourite tools is buzzsumo.com,as once I have a content idea I can see how similar content on social media has performed.

Q) In a world where large organisations are spending millions on their content marketing how can small businesses compete? @jamie_tillr

A) Unlike other mediums such as advertising, content marketing is one way small businesses really can compete with large organisations. That said, it’s not always about competiting. Small businesses usually have a very different market they want to conquer than that of a global brand and success needs to be measured in different ways.

Q) ‘Video is the future of content marketing’ is something I hear all the time. How do small businesses make the most of an expensive channel? @jamie_tillr

A) If you can’t create valuable video content for your audience it’s not worth creating at all, even if it is the so called ‘future’!

Q) What’s the biggest mistake small businesses make with content marketing? @smithemmal

A) The biggest mistake small businesses make is not having a content marketing strategy in place. Small businesses need to think about their goals and how content marketing can help them achieve what they want.

Q) What would you say is the best way to get maximum exposure from your #contentmarketing when you are starting from scratch? @jamie_tillr

A) Identify where your audience is online and focus on those networks. Then utilise advertising effectively on those sites to reach a much larger segment of your target market in a short period of time. Of course, all of this is conditional on creating valuable content that’s of interest to your audience.

Q) Has #contentmarketing replaced SEO when it comes to increasing web traffic? @hotspot_mktg

A) Web traffic should be a content marketing metric, not the goal.

Q) Is it good practice in #contentmarketing to focus 80% of your effort on helping your tribe and 20% on brand-promotion? @rogerd_

A) If you’re truly creating content with the purpose of ‘helping your tribe’ the brand promotion will fall into place naturally.

Want to know more about content marketing for small businesses? Leave a comment with your questions or contact me.

How journalists use social media

Working for a small business I often find myself at the intersection between social media and PR.

As the PR that I’m responsible for is predominantly reactive and generated by social media in some way, I was interested to see a recent study by Cision that suggests 23% of journalists now accept pitches via social media – a 5 point increase over 2013.

My favourite stat? 51% of journalists said they would be unable to do their job without social media. I’m not yet sure how I feel about that.

Six Pinterest tips for small business success

Pinterest isn’t the best social network for all small businesses, but with 72.8 million monthly active users it’s certainly worth considering whether it could bring value to your company.

Like most social networks, Pinterest is a great platform for small businesses to experiment with because it’s free to set up an account. There’s no financial outlay but you will need to spend time using the site to generate a strategy for your small business to employ.

Ready to buy into Pinterest? Here are six things you should think about to ensure small business success on the network:

1) Create a Pinterest business account

There are two types of Pinterest accounts, personal and business. When you create your account make sure you create a business Pinterest account. A business account is exactly the same as a personal account (it’s still completely free) but it has the added benefit of access to an analytics dashboard.

2) Verify your website

Verifying your website means your full URL will appear on your profile page. This is great for your brand and will allow users to easily click through to your website and find out more about your small business.

3) Pinterest analytics

Check your Pinterest analytics regularly. Play around with the data, download spreadsheets and learn what content works well and what content doesn’t work as well for your brand. The dashboard is easy to use and contains all the information a small business needs to know about how they’re performing on Pinterest.

4) Use rich pins

Rich pins allow you to add extra information to a pin. There are five types of rich pins in total but small businesses should start by focusing on article pins, product pins and place pins. These pins give the user more information and perform brilliantly; based on my experience managing Pinterest accounts (from data accessed via the analytics dashboard) I can see that on average rich pins perform 80% better than standard pins.

5) Utilise place pins

Place pins are a rich pin, but they’re so useful for small businesses that they deserve a whole paragraph of their own.

Local search is incredibly important to small businesses. Pinterest is ranked highly by search engines and place pins can also help you establish expertise in your area when you create specific boards relevant to your local community.

6) Track what people pin from your website

Once you have the Pin button live on your website you’ll be able to see if visitors to your website have pinned your content. Just replace “URL” in this link with your website address to see what content on your own website is performing best: http://pinterest.com/source/URL

This article was first published on LinkedIn