My presentation from the Social Recruiting Strategies Conference in Chicago on July 24th, 2013. Highlights include me showing what I screwed up in the beginning, what we've learned, and a countdown to my wedding.
I was hired as employee 424 (I’m a 3%er) in July of 2010 as 4th Recruiter on the team.Got my job through LI-emailed with Director for 6 months before he finally agreed to an interview5 years of agency recruiting background, so let’s just say I knew how to be persistent.Also, I have a recruiting background and not a marketing background. A lot of people I’ve seen speak have more marketing backgrounds, so I think I have a different viewpoint. Not better (and more frustrating for me, at times) but different. I try to think of the candidate point of view in our messaging and what’s attractive to them.
Shortly after I started at Groupon, I noticed that we had no social recruiting presence at all. We had just implemented an ATS and transferred over from having people apply to a jobs@ email addressI talked to my boss about creating some SM profiles and he was cool with it, so I just started doing stuff. I was also hiring 20-25 people a month, so it was a bit haphazard to say the least. But we’ll get into that in a bit.I came up with the name GrouponJobs and set out creating profiles. In 2011 I was kind of doing two jobs and started transitioning into my new role of Employment Brand Strategist. I officially transitioned in April 2012, and have been full time since then.
2010 can best be described as the beginning: the beginning of our employment brand taking shape and the beginning of me realizing that this is kind of a big deal.I’ve broken this down into Create, Try, Fail, Learn.Let’s dive in…
I first tasked myself with creating our GrouponJobs Facebook and Twitter accounts. Being a fan and user of these networks myself I thought this was the perfect place to start. Soon after, I created our Groupon company page on LinkedIn and also a Groupon group and GrouponJobs subgroups.
Once things were created, it was time for me to start trying things out. I always considered myself to be a pretty funny person (as do most people in social media) but soon realized that my humor shouldn’t be the focus of our posts. I’ll show you a few examples in a bit.Irreverence was also pretty big at Groupon at the time and still is (to an extent) to this day. I remember on the day I came in to interview, there was a guy in a tutu just walking about the office. Nobody knew why and he didn’t talk to anyone the entire time, just kept walking around the office. We later learned that Andrew, our CEO, hired him for the week and that it was a local Chicago actor. Still a bit intimidating to see that when you’re already a bit nervous about a first interview.The other way I tried things was by demoing just about every tool for recruiting out there. I’ve looked at all the video interviewing stuff, the social profile aggregators (Gild, TalentBin, Entelo, etc), the marketing agencies and partners, talked to TMP and local Chicago agencies, job boards, job aggregators, background check vendors, Basically, if it’s out there, I’ve probably used it. And I’ll explain in a bit how that’s not necessarily a good thing.First, let’s take a look at some of the ‘epic fails’, if you will, in the beginning.
This was one of my first FB posts. Our recruiting team was talking about fanny packs for some reason so I thought it would be a cool/funny idea to post and ask people what they thought.On a recruiting FB page. That has nothing to do with fashion or fanny packs or anything.Even if you don’t know a ton about marketing metrics, I think we can all see the engagement on that piece.ZERO
And finally, my piece de resistance, the desk organizer.This was our first FB photo, with no caption.Guess how many likes this one got? One (because I went on to my personal FB page and liked it)
So what did I learn from this?Focus on value/contentvs humor and trying to be funny. Groupon has a quirky culture, so I thought that my jokes would fit right in. They didn’t. Once we started posting relevant content and candidate tips, we immediately noticed a 4x increase in likes and engagement from our posts.We also needed to focus on reactive vs proactive recruiting. I created the pages and I think I just assumed that people would find them and start asking questions and reaching out. What I learned was that we had to reach out and provide the content mentioned above to start building our talent communities.No inside jokes. Dustin, you aren’t funny. Bottom line: when people go to your career or recruiting focused pages, they don’t want to hear my lame jokes or how cool our recruiters think they are. It creates an exclusionary culture and that’s pretty much the last thing you want in recruiting.I also learned by trying out all those different tools I mentioned that I need more time. This was turning into kind of a big deal and we should probably start dedicating more time to it. The problem was, we were also hiring about 125 people every two weeks with a team of 6-8 recruiters at the time.
Now we move on to 2011. During this year, I transitioned gradually out of recruiting 100% of my day and started leaving 30, 40 and eventually 50% of my day devoted to branding and SM efforts.This was the year that I learned to Expand, Maintain, and continue to learn.
Expansion was first on my list. I learned to start diversifying content for each social network. I learned that to get someone to click thru on Twitter you need to have a great tagline to grab them, whereas on FB it was more about getting a cool picture or video.We started expanding into Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube. I didn’t really have a plan here, so I basically just shared all content on all platforms equally. This worked, but was it really valuable to just push out all of this content into the social ether to see what sticks.Probably our biggest victory at the time came with using FB advertising for our jobs. We went with Work4Labs and created a campaign that saw us bring in over 100 applications in just a few months. I learned that the humor piece can still work but we need to be a bit more subtle about it. One of our mottos at Groupon is that “we take our jobs seriously, but not ourselves” and I feel as though that is referenced in our ad.It provides the relevant content of what positions for which we are hiring, uses the company logo to increase brand awareness and recognition, and also shows that we like to have fun, even in something as simple as a FB ad.
After seeing the success we had with the FB ad, we wanted to maintain that identity. As the company was growing and becoming a corporation right before our eyes, we really wanted to keep the identity without becoming boring. From day one, Groupon has always not wanted to be a boring company.Part of maintaining that identity was coming up with a consistent voice. Our editorial team had already created a style guide for themselves, so why not just use that? A few of the main tenets of that were to stay away from exclamation points and superlatives. We don’t ever say that this is the “best spa or restaurant in town” because what about the next restaurant that you’re trying to get to do a deal. Why couldn’t we use this in recruiting as well?We are careful never to say that Groupon is the best place to work or that you SHOULD work at Groupon. Truth is, Groupon is not the best place for everyone. My job in employment brandingi is to give the candidate the information to make that decision themselves.This is where show vs tell comes in. We don’t want to tell a candidate reasons why they would love to work at Groupon, we want to show them a list of reason why other people do and let them decide if they are the best fit for the organization.This may come from my lack of a marketing background, but I think it’s a much better candidate experience if we show the candidate that we respect them enough for them to make their own decisions.By not assuming that every person wants the job, we are giving the candidate the ultimate control over their decision.
Here’s an example of maintaining our identity without becoming boring. This is a screenshot taken from a current job posting for a Benefits Manager. Seems pretty normal until you start reading some of the bullet points.Longitude-really makes no sense but is a play on words with latitude. The idea is for someone to get the content that they need but also show our culture, even in a job description. This gives the candidate a very clear picture early on of our “take your job seriously, but not yourself” culture.
So what did I learn in 2011?Consistency is key- having a consistent voice, content, and cadence to that content is key. Just as a brand needs to remain consistent to survive in people’s minds, so does an employment brand.Also, we still need more time. I was spending about 50% of my time on this stuff, but now I realized that we needed someone doing this full time.Analytics are fun! I love tracking things like how much social traffic we get and how different posts lead to different engagement.Ok so I’m finally using some clip art here. I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying content is king. Well I say, if content is king, relevant content is the Ace. This is especially true in recruiting. Always keep your audience in mind when creating content and tailor that content accordingly.As I mentioned, we saw an immediate 400% increase in engagement once we starting posting things that job seekers actually wanted to look at.
Now comes the fun part, 2012 and beyond.This past year, I’ve learned to Push, focus, and plan.
A great example of learning to push is with our People Blog. I wanted a way to really show candidates what it was like to work at Groupon, so I created the People Blog this past summer. It’s a standalone blog located at people.groupon.com and I think we’ve had some great success so far.I have personally created or editied over 90 unique entries and our most popular entry (a profile of our SVP of HR) got over 1200 views in one day.I have also learned to cross-pollinate with other Groupon blogs that are out there. We have kind of a disparate blog network, but by sharing their content and having them share mine, I can double or even triple views to my entries.
By focusing on just a few networks and giving them individualized attention, I have been able to further amplify Groupon’s employment brand. For example, I have noticed that if I post the same content to FB and LI simultaneously, I get about 2x more likes and comments on LI.By posting things about the business itself and adding a recruiting twist, we see even more engagment. As I mentioned, we now have 68K people following our Groupon page, but almost 1/3 of that growth has been in just this year.The example in the picture is a great way to share awesome news about the business while recruiting at the same time. If you have a smaller business, even articles about your industry can work here. We’ve helped employee morale by giving a shout out to the mobile team, helped to influence sales by showing consumers that we were the top mobile app for Black Friday, and are effectively recruiting by listing the roles that we are hiring for.We are then able to reverse recruit the people who liked the post. We got the list of likes/comments and looked up the people on LinkedIn and reached out to them. We got a 75% response rate from this tactic and interviewed more than one person for the role.Use whatever press you have about your company or industry to your advantage and you’ll start seeing the results.
Probably my favorite part of what’s going on right now is the planning stage. I’ve learned a lot over the past 2.5 years and now I’m really excited to start putting some real firing power behind our employment brand. We’re created the framework for the house, now we can start designing and picking out the furniture (I watch a lot of HGTV).We are looking into expandng our team, revamping our career site, involving more departments in blogs and videos about recruiting, and I’m learning to put links to jobs EVERYWHERE I CAN.Just by adding the simple sentence below, we have seen a 70% mtm increase in visitors to our career site from our blog. I’m really excited to see what areas we can find to talk about our jobs.
So what have I learned?Stop trying to do everything-it’s much better to have a solid plan and to focus on 1-3 things (blogs, social networks, etc) than to have 2500 different things going on at once. We simply didn’t have the bandwidth to take care of everything, but I should have focused more and created a strategy instead of just doing stuff.#2- This is something that our SVP of HR told me once and I have it written down on a post-it on my monitor. It’s easy to just want to push out content because you have it or because you want to, but you really need to think before you post and make sure that you have a plan and a target audience for everything.#3- pretty self explanatory, but that’s how I look at it. My job is not to create the employment brand, but to evangelize it and make it attractive to candidates. By creating a good experience for candidates and employees alike, the brand will follow suit.#4- We do, It’s true.#5- Thanks so much for listening to my story and hopefully you learned a few things. We didn’t do everything right, but that’s ok. Be honest, be consistent and don’t be afraid to fail in social media.Thanks again!
#SRSC Presentation on Employment Branding at Groupon
• People Blog: 1st year stats- people.groupon.com
• 88K+ page views
• 82% unique visitors
• 120 entries
• 53.5% social media referrals
• 44% FB, 31% Twitter, 22% LI
• Cross-pollination w/ other blogs
• Give networks
individual attention (2x
as much engagement
on LI vs. FB for us)
• Focus on the good in
spite of the not so
• Use press to your
• Expand the team?
• Career site revamp/expansion
• Links to jobs EVERYWHERE
• 70% mtm increase in visitors from blog
Thanks for reading the Groupon People Blog–A blog about people at Groupon. You
can see all of our current open jobs here, and please let us know what you think in
the comments below.
• Dropped analytics partner-
where to pick up?
• Google analytics
• New career site/Employee
What Have I Learned?
1. Stop trying to do everything and don’t get attached to
2. Don’t trade importance for urgency
3. You don’t create an employment brand, your candidates and
4. We have a LOT of work to do
5. And most importantly…