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Episode 4: Creating an Employer Brand on LinkedIn

Employer branding is a lot of things. It’s photos on a website. It’s what people read about you from a quick Google search. It’s Glassdoor reviews. But creating a great employer brand is all about how you position your company as an amazing place to work.

Hannah Fleishman joins host Matthew Brown to talk about why LinkedIn is the best place to start investing in your employer brand, and how you can empower your employees to publish content about your company.

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Episode Transcription

Hi. I’m Matt Brown from HubSpot, and this is Skill Up, the show where you’ll learn how to take your sales, marketing, and service skills to the next level.

Employer branding is a lot of things. Right? It’s photos on a website. It’s what people read about you from a quick Google search. It’s Glassdoor reviews, and maybe it’s the last true Highlander. I don’t know. It’s so many things.

So to help clear it all up, I got on the phone with Hannah.

[HANNAH: My name is Hannah Fleishman, and I am the senior manager of employer brand at HubSpot.]

Hannah’s helped lead our employer branding here at HubSpot. And we’ll talk about the how and why’s of it all. But first, music please!

[cue segment music]
Ok, Hannah. So, what is employer branding?

[HANNAH: Employer branding is how you position your company as an amazing place to work... It's the idea that the Sunday scaries don't have to exist and how can you tell that story to candidates and to prospective talent that may want to work with you.

It's doing marketing to market a different kind of product, which is your culture. That doesn't mean you need tons of budget or resources to introduce these crazy perks or free food or any of that.

That's not really what culture is. Culture is what you believe. It's what your values are. And it's kind of the system of values that keeps everybody on the same page and aligned to follow your mission.]

So employer branding really pulls together all those facets of a company.

[HANNAH: It's marketing your culture, your values, and what your unique differentiators are that makes them want to work for you versus a competitor.
[cue end of segment]

An Olympic high dive platform is 33 ft. -- or just shy of 5 and a half Timothee Chalamets. So take a look down, past those five layers of perfectly unkempt hair, and let’s dive in.

[HANNAH: The first place to start is you need to have a really strong culture. That doesn't mean that your company culture needs to be perfect internally. Ours at HubSpot certainly is not perfect, and we're working on things all the time.

What matters is that you're investing in culture because, in the same way that you wouldn't spend tons and tons of resources on marketing a product or a service or software if it wasn't ready to use, you probably wouldn't want to market a culture if once candidates come in for an interview or once they start on their first day at work, they quickly realize that they were sold on a bill of goods.

So the first thing you really want to do is invest in company culture internally.]

[cue synth flourish]

There are really two reasons why LinkedIn -- the professional’s professional network -- is such a great place to start investing in employer branding. The first is LinkedIn’s audience. The second is the platform is great for getting other people to tell their stories.

Let’s break it down.

It’s not that the folks on LinkedIn can’t be found on Facebook or Twitter. It’s more of what people on LinkedIn are looking for situation.

[HANNAH: it's typically going to be job seekers. So you're going to be meeting people where they are, even if they're not proactively looking for a job.

Even if we're talking about passive talent. There are still people that can consume your information and they're expecting to see information about work, about companies, about careers on LinkedIn. So the first is that it's a great platform because you're meeting your audience exactly where they are.]

The second reason is that LinkedIn is actually a really great place for people to tell their stories.

[HANNAH: So if you think about the idea of employees as ambassadors and as brand ambassadors, LinkedIn is such a great place for them because they can tell those stories and they can talk uniquely about. Their career journeys, their career paths, what they work on Intel culture from your company, from their personal perspective.]

[cue synth flourish]

So Hannah, I wanna get a little bit more insight into what you’ve learned about employer branding based on some of the work you’ve been doing here at HubSpot.

[HANNAH: So one thing we talk a lot about on my team is the idea that candidates don't actually want to hear from the brand. They don't actually want to hear from the company… So one way we use LinkedIn knowing that at HubSpot is we have a lot of employee content programs in place, and I really see it as my team's job to not create content for people or to create that much content from HubSpot for LinkedIn is to empower employees to tell their own stories.]

You want to make it as easy as possible for your employees to create content on behalf of the company.

[HANNAH: One thing I wish we would've done even a little bit sooner at HubSpot was making all these DIY resources, make our social channels accessible to people so that they could publish either on behalf of them or post to them for us. Really just make it easy for employees to be ambassadors, because if your culture is great, which it probably is.

People are going to want to talk about it. So you just sometimes need to give people confidence in a little bit of a framework on how and where to publish content about their work, about their day to day about their jobs. Because that content's really impactful and it takes work off of your own team.

So make it easy for people to do with things like guidelines and frameworks, but also reward the people that do it. Um, people need to see in order to create a culture of content. Create a culture of employer brand, you need to celebrate the people that are actually doing the work. So whether that's shout outs and team meetings or mining people's managers that they've been strong ambassadors for the company, um, people should be rewarded for that.

So we create loads of resources and we host workshops and we have loom videos and we have prompts and ideas of what people could write about to really just encourage employees, hiring managers and leadership to publish their own content on LinkedIn about HubSpot as a place to work.]

[cue synth flourish]

Typically, when people set out to start employer branding, they tend to fall into a tale as old as time: Too many plates, too little unicycles. Or.. too little spinning sticks? I don’t know. You know what, it’s too many things at once.

[HANNAH: So they try to boil the ocean.]

Much better way of saying it. Thank you, Hannah. So instead, what you need is to focus on is one to three things.

[HANNAH: Typically one long-term initiative that you can start chipping away at.

That might be something like a redesign of your career site or defining your company values or developing candidate personas, and then pick one to two things that you can quickly just put into action and experiment and start seeing results from. Maybe that's doing some sort of employee ambassador program or testing out a new social media channel that your company is not on yet.

But my advice would be to pick one to three things and do them really well, as opposed to trying to be all things to all people at your company.]

[cue synth flourish]

Now, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘move fast and break things.’ Jonathan Taplin, author, guy who coined the phrase. But the reality of most companies lies in that crimson patina of adhesive we call red tape.

So if employees are publishing content about the company, what should the company monitor? And where’s even the line between company content vs. employee content? It’s enough to stifle creativity from the start.

[HANNAH: I think you can really stifle a company's employer brand. But I understand that there need to be guidelines and a little bit of a way to think about what's, what's personal versus what's on behalf of the company. The way that I think about that is. Again, going back to your internal culture, if you, if you invest in company culture and employees are happy and they feel like they're doing their best work and you're kind of transparent about what that means, um, I think employees will naturally want to publish more positive things.

At the same time, I think the best employer brand content is honest. I think it's raw. I think it's pretty authentic. Sick people can go to Glassdoor and find negative reviews about your company. They already exist. I'm expecting employees to only write things that are 100%. Um, you know. Unicorns and unhappy ponies and all of that stuff all the time.

It's just not realistic and candidates don't buy it either. So my advice on that is to let employees publish what they would like to publish if they come to you or your team or your recruiting or HR team looking for approval, um, you know, review what they have and give them advice or feedback on it. But I think, um, I think it's coming, it's down to the employee to publish what they want to publish and companies have to be comfortable with that.

You'll be more comfortable with that if you know that you're doing right by your employees.]

[cue synth flourish]

So to recap: Employer branding is almost synonymous with a great company culture. Without one, you can’t do the other. And table tennis, free lunches, free beer, none of that’s culture.

Culture is your company’s values. It’s what your company believes in. Without it, there’s no cohesion between employees across the business.

Of all the social platforms at your disposal, LinkedIn really is the best choice in building out your employer brand. Not just for recruiting, but for empowering employees to share content about your company.

And yes, red tape exists for a reason sometimes. But to really pull off employer branding, you need to find a way for employees to publish content about the company.

Next episode, we’re off to the house bought by Zuckerberg. Where selfies have become common language and food and dog photos are still a personal favorite of mine. I mean, Doug the pug. Do you have a pulse? He’s a-dorable!

We’re talking about Instagram, and how you can drive awareness and even purchase intent for your brand. So hey, I’ll see you.