With the backdrop of an unstable economy, increases in student fees and a perceived lack of graduate opportunities for University leavers it is more important than ever to engage with students in their space about the career opportunities available. Jason Frank discusses what we've been up to.
Been to the conference, read the free white paper, met the 'guru' ... it can't just be me who's getting more than a little bored of idle social media talk and opinion. Social media really isn't all that difficult with a bit of common sense and a willingness to embrace change.
So what have we actually been doing?
The short answer for some clients is nothing. For some we've played a supporting role and for others we've planned and rolled out on- and off-line social strategy. Take Ernst & Young and Unilever for example:
A glimpse of the pot at the end of the social media rainbow from Ernst & Young and Unilever
Ernst & Young is leaps ahead of most. We have worked with the team to develop a robust integrated campaign strategy and within that an overall digital strategy. We know why we're using online media, including social. We also know what success looks like. We've decided how Ernst & Young people will behave in social media 'platforms', who will contribute to the conversation, what kinds of things they'll talk about and how quickly they'll respond to questions - however mundane.
Once the team were comfortable with social media and began to see the benefits of the conversations happening we decided we needed to reach out to more people, to invite them into our world, with the aim of building trusting, open relationships over the course of their university careers and beyond. After all, a quick flirtation at a careers fair or employer presentation simply is not enough these days. So the idea of a large scale Facebook-based campaign was borne, with the intention of increasing the size of the engaged community of talent. It was a simple idea; host a competition on Facebook, where people had to crack the clues to give themselves a fighting chance of winning a pretty tasty prize. In the process they had to like the Facebook page and part with some basic details. To cut a long story short we created 18,000 new Facebook fans in four months, and a lot of buzz online and on campus.
The cynics could accuse us of buying 'likes' that don't really mean much. Our answer to them is pretty simple - almost 70% of the 7,902 competition entrants opted in to be kept informed by Ernst & Young, essentially giving their permission for an ongoing relationship to be built. Not only that but almost half of the 64 prize winners applied to the firm. We also have a thriving Facebook community and dialogue.
Unilever's social media story
This is a different tale and one for which we can only take some of the credit. This has been the first year of our relationship, launching a totally new campaign, a year which has seen internship applications rise by 50% while 'hard-to-fill' functional roles filled several months earlier than the same time last year. Unilever already had a strong social media presence - encompassing Twitter, Facebook and YouTube - run by an enthusiastic and talented bunch of grads. Their robust social media footprint wasn't just because they're an FMCG business but also because their corporate website is so tricky to update. In fact the Facebook site had become something of a dumping ground for content.
We worked with the team to re-arrange the structure of the site, align the branding and cull some content that wasn't up to scratch. We also created vastly improved films that each gave an insight into the roles, culture and business at Unilever. These have been the most popular content and have driven engagement via likes and commenting.
Perhaps the most important thing we did was to set new principles for the kind of content and topics the team should be talking about. Our overall campaign strategy was to position Unilever as a serious global business with a variety of roles - playing against the common misperception that FMCG's just do marketing. This meant not succumbing to the obvious temptation to put just the cool brand stuff onto Facebook and Twitter but other more broad and business related stuff too - thinking carefully about the overall message and the crucial niche audiences like finance and supply chain people.
We also created a 'Sustainable Living Plan' competition - targeted mostly at first and second years - which successfully attracted 620 entries.
The result has been a doubling in likes to over 3200 in 6 months; the Facebook videos tab has been viewed 7970 times.
And the punchline?
So, it seems we have reached the tipping point where, for some employers at least, social media is playing a growing and valuable role. We're working closely with our clients, offering common sense advice that's appropriate to their circumstances, making sure the activity aligns with the message and the strategy. Most of all we're focusing on saying and doing stuff that's interesting, fun and relevant to the target audience. And guess what, students are 'liking' it (Boom, Boom!)
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