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Kim Anh Pham
THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN ENHANCING
THE EMPLOYER BRAND
Case study: EATECH Oy
Master’s Thesis in Information Systems
Supervisor: Dr. Shahrokh Nikou
Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics
Åbo Akademi University
Åbo 2016
i
ABSTRACT
The current knowledge of economy emphasises the critical role of human resources to
the success of an organization. “The war for talent” has brought challenges to many
organizations. Organizations need to focus more on branding their employer image to
attract talented and skilful workforces in order to stay competitive in the market.
Furthermore, social media have become an important marketing and communication
channels for organizations and employees, thus, they create new areas and challenges for
employers to manage their image and reputation in public. Practicing the employer brand
involves a collaboration between the human resources department and the marketing
department of an organization. In other words, it is a combination of a strong workplace
culture within a company with a good image to external audiences. Therefore, building a
successful employer brand requires a positive organizational culture and the effective
performance of social media.
The main objective of this thesis is twofold. The first objective is to construct the
Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and analyse the use of social media to enhance the
employer brand by creating new opportunities for recruitment. The second objective is to
identify the influential factors to increase the visibility of the employer brand of a
medium-sized technological firm, Eatech Oy. In this thesis, the Eatech Oy has been used
as a case study.
From a methodological standpoint, a qualitative research method has been used in the
current thesis as a methodological lens to investigate the case study (i.e. Eatech Oy). The
data have been collected in two phases: (1) by conducting several interviews with the
employer representative as well as with some of the employees currently working in the
Eatech Oy, (2) and by analysing quantitative data collected from social media platforms
and by benchmarking against other competing brands operating in the same domain as
the case study.
The main findings of this thesis support the previous results presented in the literature
and correspond with the research questions. This thesis has constructed a set of Employee
Value Propositions that would help to improve the employee engagement which is
considered as a foundation for employee advocacy programme and the organizational
culture. Furthermore, the measurement of the effectiveness of different social media
ii
channels shows the need for a better communication strategy on social media platforms.
Additionally, continuous monitoring of social media channels is highly recommended to
measure efforts of the company and to develop the marketing plan. Moreover, new
technologies are being constantly developed, so adopting a more accurate measurement
method would be beneficial for the case company.
Overall, the research objectives of this thesis are achieved. The findings and the new
insights provided in this thesis can be considered beneficial reference for further research
on the same topic. In future, a generalisation of this topic in a broader scope would be a
considerable contribution to the Information Technology and Services industry.
Keywords: employer brand, social media, recruitment, social media management
strategies
iii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Firstly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my supervisor Dr. Shahrokh Nikou
for his patience, continuous support and above of all for his devotion. His expertise has
guided me in all the time of doing research and writing of this thesis.
My sincere thanks also goes to Mr. Antti Kopponen, Ms. Hanna Kouri, and all employees
of Eatech Oy who provided me an opportunity to access and use the resources and the
information of the company. Without their help and support, it would not be possible to
complete this thesis.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my family, my boyfriend, Kari Halme, and my
friends for spiritually supporting me throughout writing this thesis and my life.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................I
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ..............................................................................................III
TABLE OF CONTENTS................................................................................................IV
1 INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................1
1.1 Background and research motivation...........................................................3
1.2 Research objectives and research questions.................................................7
1.3 Thesis structure...............................................................................................9
2 LITERATURE REVIEW .......................................................................................11
2.1 Employer brand ............................................................................................11
2.1.1 Definition ....................................................................................................11
2.1.2 Employer brand objectives..........................................................................15
2.1.3 Employer branding......................................................................................18
2.1.3.1 Internal branding.......................................................................................... 20
2.1.3.2 External branding......................................................................................... 21
2.1.4 Employer branding framework ...................................................................22
2.2 Social media...................................................................................................29
2.2.1 Social media definition ...............................................................................29
2.2.1.1 Characteristics of the social media .............................................................. 30
2.2.1.2 Social media classification........................................................................... 31
2.2.2 Social media impact on employer brand management ...............................35
2.2.3 The social media performance measurement..............................................37
2.2.3.1 Key performance indicators and measurement tools ................................... 38
2.3 Research method...........................................................................................43
2.3.1 Qualitative method......................................................................................43
2.3.2 Case study ...................................................................................................44
2.3.3 Benchmarking .............................................................................................46
2.4 Data collection ...............................................................................................48
2.5 Data analysis..................................................................................................49
3 CASE STUDY: EATECH OY ...............................................................................51
3.1 Company Introduction: Eatech Oy.............................................................51
3.1.1 Product and service .....................................................................................52
3.1.2 Eatech’s goal...............................................................................................53
4 RESULT..................................................................................................................54
4.1 Interview findings .........................................................................................54
4.2 Measurement employer branding on the social media..............................63
4.2.1 Company website and blog.........................................................................64
4.2.2 Facebook .....................................................................................................67
4.2.3 LinkedIn......................................................................................................68
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4.2.4 Twitter.........................................................................................................69
5 DISCUSSION .........................................................................................................71
5.1 Answers to research questions.....................................................................71
5.1.1 The Employee Value Proposition ...............................................................71
5.1.2 Develop the employer brand.......................................................................74
5.2 Trustworthiness of the thesis .......................................................................78
6 CONCLUSION.......................................................................................................80
6.1 Research summary........................................................................................80
6.2 Practical implications of the research .........................................................81
6.3 Limitations.....................................................................................................82
REFERENCES................................................................................................................83
APPENDICES ................................................................................................................91
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LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1: The main tools used in communicating employer brand during 2014
(Minchington, 2014) .........................................................................................................4
Figure 2: Most effective activities in enhancing employer brand during 2014
(Minchington, 2014) .........................................................................................................5
Figure 3: Employer brand division (Figurska & Matuska, 2013)...................................13
Figure 4: Employer branding concept (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004).................................18
Figure 5: Employer branding scope (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004) ....................................20
Figure 6: Employer brand development and communication (Walker & Platt-Higgins,
2009) ...............................................................................................................................22
Figure 7: Employer brand framework according to the Employer Brand International
(Minchington, 2014) .......................................................................................................24
Figure 8: The iab social media measurement framework (The Internet Advertising
Bureau, 2011)..................................................................................................................39
Figure 9: The engagement rate calculation (Smitha, 2013)............................................42
Figure 10: Eatech's revenue development 2012-2015 (Finder.fi, 2015).........................51
Figure 11: The Brand Balance model (Rosethorn, 2009) ...............................................55
Figure 12: Social network referrals of Eatech (updated 6.6.2016) .................................64
Figure 13: Audience Overview by month (Updated in June, 2016) ...............................65
Figure 14: Comparison the performance of Eatech with some of their competitors on
Facebook (by week) (updated on 6.6.2016)....................................................................67
Figure 15: Comparison of Eatech's LinkedIn page with others......................................69
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LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Classification of social media by social presence/media richness and self-
presentation/self-disclosure (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010)................................................32
Table 2: List of interviewees...........................................................................................48
Table 3: Comparison of companies' website and blogs (updated 13.6.2016).................66
Table 4: Measurement the effectiveness of social media of Eatech in May, 2016.........70
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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
CPE Cost per engagement
CPI Cost per impression
CPL Cost per lead
CPR Cost per referral
EVP Employee Value Proposition / Employer Value Proposition
EBEP Employer Brand Employee Platform
EBSP Employer Brand Strategic Platform
KPIs Key Performance Indicators
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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1 INTRODUCTION
“The war for talent is over, and the talent won.” – Josh Bersin (Deloitte’s Human Capital
Trends, 2014).
The wave of technological advancements, revolutionizing structure in the operation of
corporations and competitive pressures have affected noticeably the relationship between
employer and employee in the 21st
century (Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends, 2014).
With these changes, companies strive to deliver unique organizational culture and brand
identity which are considered to bring significant competitive advantages for the
organization (Figurska & Matuska, 2013; Mosley, 2014). The competitive advantages are
characterised by motivation, loyalty, and performance of employees. A strong brand
identity not only generates employee pride, advocacy, and commitment leading to
productivity and innovation increase, but also attracts potential talent from outside
(Figurska & Matuska, 2013). This advantage is gained through a proper strategy, called
employer brand management (Mosley, 2014).
Employer brand is referred to as the bridge between the human resources management
and marketing (Ambler & Barrow, 1996, Lalwani & Parmar, 2012; Figurska & Matuska,
2013). Likewise, the company brand which is used to earn customer trust and retention,
employer brand impacts human resources and organizations to gain attraction from talent
recruitment in the labour market and employees’ loyalty and commitment (Walker &
Platt-Higgins, 2009). In terms of benefits of a well-recognised brand, the companies have
competitive advantages to compete in the employment market with the lower cost of
recruitment, salary advantage and the number of qualified candidates. Moreover,
employee advocacy also helps to cut advertising and recruitment costs through employee
loyalty (Mosley, 2014).
More and more companies are increasingly using social media channels to expand the
talent pool and recruit viable candidates for their companies. Based on a survey conducted
by the Employer Brand International in 2014 across 18 countries, 76 percent of employers
utilise social media as the main communication channel to recruit and search for potential
talent and 58 percent utilise it to strengthen their employer brands (Minchington, 2014).
CareerBuilder also indicated that companies that do not exploit social media as a
recruitment tool might not reach the large talent pool and lose quality candidates to their
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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competitors. This statement can be associated with the fact that, LinkedIn, the world’s
largest professional network on the Internet, has 500 million registered members with an
average of 100 million active users per month (LinkedIn, 2015), and Facebook with about
1,55 billion monthly active users (Facebook, 2015). These statistics of the popularity of
social media indicate the enormous influence of its application. Talent acquisition and
access is the fourth most urgent issue for companies in the changing wave of
globalization, technology and workforce expectations. Deloitte report (Deloitte’s Human
Capital Trends in 2014), shows that “Tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and
others are changing recruiting into a strategic function focused on marketing, branding,
and new tools and technologies.”
In the digital world, it is all about the network, or more precisely, the social network
(Helen, 2009). The effective communications in communities does say as much about the
brand as other tools. Research about the employer brand revealed that the candidates see
an employer’s website as a good way to judge how they will be treated by the company,
such as the integrity and character of management in the company (Helen, 2009).
To date, there are many researches concentrated on social media changes and their impact
on the product branding. These research papers often discuss the development of a
product brand affecting consumer behaviour on social media, e.g. the impact of user
interactions with social media on brand awareness and purchase intention. For more
information, please see, the case of MINI on Facebook (Hutter et al., 2013), and the
impact of social networks on the development of a personal sports brand (Green, 2016).
However, there has been little research on the possibilities and potentials that social media
bring to employer brand management in relation to recruitment and marketing.
Given the above specified intentions, this thesis investigates and explores the use of social
media platform in managing employer branding. The aim is to provide a comprehensive
understanding of how social media can be utilised both internally and externally within
companies to manage the employer branding better. The results of this research provide
insights and new knowledge on how to increase the engagement of targeted audience in
the potential talent pool and retention of high-quality employees. At a more practical
level, this thesis aims to provide explicit knowledge with regards to the relationship
between social media and employer brand management.
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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In the following subsections, we will explore the research background and motivation,
followed by the formulation of research objectives and research questions and discussion
on the research theoretical framework.
1.1 Background and research motivation
In the current knowledge economy, human resources are one of the most valuable assets
of a company (Gabcanova, 2011). Companies are now more dependent on their
employees’ competencies and performances. Thus, the attraction and retention of high-
quality talent have become of great importance. One of the forms of ‘the war for talent’
is building a strong employer brand (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). A company which has
a strong employer brand with attractive brand values and career prospects will be
considered as an employer of choice (Ambler & Barrow, 1996, Universum, 2014). In a
highly competitive job market, employer branding is a critical approach for attracting and
retaining talent (Corporate Leadership Council, 1999). Nowadays, the employer brand
generates both values and influences (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). A strong employer brand
will help a company to recruit highly-profiled and skilled employees in the labour market.
In reverse, employees will be influenced by the organizational behaviour in order to build
loyalty and trust toward the employer brand.
Social media have increasingly been recognised as a phenomenon in online
communication and marketing world (Kärkkäinen et al., 2010). It is like the brand of
modern communication and socialisation. For example, Facebook and Twitter are used
as a network to socialise, WordPress and Tumblr are meant for sharing. In terms of photo
and video sharing, Instagram and YouTube are the most well-known channel. Not listed
as social media, Wikipedia is always seen as an effective tool for sharing knowledge since
the rise of the popularity of Web 2.0. Social media have not only changed the way people
practice socialising, sharing and cooperating, but also has impacted the way organizations
operate and promote their businesses dramatically (Jue et al., 2010). Since, all the borders
were removed due to the invention of the Internet and social media, the flow of
information is spread worldwide in a matter of few seconds. Moreover, the complexity
and competitiveness of the business environment have been escalated due to the invention
of the Internet. One positive post or video can easily go viral and reach a million of people,
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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the same applies to negative ones. Thus, the business environment is now exposed to a
great opportunity and a tough challenging environment to manage (Jue et al., 2010).
Marketing in social media is one of the key activities to improve a company’s brand.
From customers’ standpoint, branding is considered as the popularity of a company’s
image to increase the sales. However, it is equally important that employers to maintain
the corporation’s reputation in the industry. The reputation of an employer helps to attract
employees with outstanding skills and knowledge. The skilful labour force comprises a
primary source of competitive advantage for organizations. Social media have been used
and utilised as strategic tools in human resources management and marketing in order to
access a larger talent pool in the labour market with cost effectiveness in the long-term
perspective (Barrow & Mosley, 2005; Mosley, 2014).
In the Employer Brand International survey (Employer Brand Global Trends Study,
2014), social media were the most popular communication channels used during 2014.
Moreover, the report indicates that, the global trend of using social media in employer
brand communication has also increased noticeably within the last five years from (14%)
in 2009 to (76%) in 2014, see Figure 1.
Figure 1: The main tools used in communicating employer brand during 2014 (Minchington, 2014)
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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Employer branding emerged as an alignment between marketing and human resources
management (Ambler & Barrow, 1996; Barrow & Mosley, 2005; Figurska & Matuska,
2013). Employer branding includes communication activities to both external and internal
audiences and it is regarded as organization’s value propositions. These value
propositions would make an organization distinctive among its competitors. Employer
attractiveness is seen as future opportunities and benefits that potential employees expect
to receive when working for an organization (e.g. professional development, leadership,
working environment, corporate reputation and culture, reward and recognition, and
work-life balance) (Minchington, 2014).
The survey of the Employer Brand International showed that the vital role of defined
Employee Value Proposition (EVP) of an organization in enhancing the employer brand
activities along with social media participations (see Figure 2). The research combines
employer branding and social media, which will be valuable to employers in improving
their recruitment processes, corporation reputation and brand visibility in the industry.
Figure 2: Most effective activities in enhancing employer brand during 2014 (Minchington, 2014)
The impact of social media in marketing and branding is unquestionable. However,
measuring its outcome, including marketing measurement, branding measurement and
performance measurement of an organization, remains ambiguous. There is not a standard
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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model that can be applied for all measurements. Each organization must define and build
their own indicators consistent with their needs and goals. However, many companies
have not defined a set of metrics to track and monitor progress. Evaluating the progress
is critical element for the success of an organization toward their specific goals and the
measurement of the return on investment. For example, in the employer branding area, as
stated in the study of The Employer Brand International 2014 and Universum, a set of
metrics often used in the organizations, some of these metrics are:
 Employee engagement and brand advocacy (Facebook and LinkedIn interaction
increase)
 Marketing effectiveness and efficiency (cost of marketing activities in each
social media platform vs. like/followers increase)
 Quantity and quality of applicant increase
 Conversion rate
 Hiring cost reduction
 Etc.
Additionally, with technological advancement and analytical tools, it is feasible to
statistically analyse and assess information on a social media platform for measuring the
effectiveness of the investment regarding the metrics, e.g. track media interactions,
conversion rate, and estimate the cost of hire in paid media investment. Nevertheless,
social media are merely supporting tools in promoting the employer brand. The central
position which directly impacts the overall perception of a brand of an organization are
employees. The employees’ perceptions are affected by both the product brand and the
employer brand (Barrow & Mosley, 2014). They play a central role in creating values that
will bring positive influences to external audiences, e.g. attract more prospective
candidates together with human resource management.
Given the above specified reasons, this thesis aims to assess the relation between social
media and employer brand management. In other words, it investigates the role of social
media in enhancing the employer brand. The following subchapters provide more details.
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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1.2 Research objectives and research questions
The first step in any research is to formulate the problem statement. It decides the whole
strategy to expedite the research, involving the research evidence and the methodology
(Cooper, 2010).
Employer branding management is an emerging topic, which gains a lot of concerns from
small and medium sized companies in the highly competitive labour market, e.g. in the
IT industry (Sivertzen et al., 2013). The employer branding management concept is
related to several different notions such as organizational reputation, image, and brand
equity. The fundamental notion of employer branding is a strong organizational culture
by constructing an appropriate set of employee value propositions. Along with the
increasing popularity of social media in marketing and branding, measuring the
effectiveness of these tools is becoming an inevitable part of the employer branding
management. The internal and external marketing for employer branding need to be
consistent. However, companies do not concentrate on defining a clear EVP which could
be used to strengthen the working culture for the current employees and to increase the
attractiveness for the potential ones. The necessity for frequent measurement of the
performance of social media has so far been neglected by many practitioners of the
companies.
The core theoretical objectives of this thesis are (1) to explore the value proposition that
employers offer to their current employees, and (2) to measure the effectiveness of social
media platforms used for the employer branding management in the context of medium-
sized technological firms in Finland. The thesis will explain the process of employer
brand enhancement on social media by analysing the case study, Eatech Oy.
Eatech Oy is a Finnish agile software company established in 2006. By the end of 2015,
the company had 52 employees and earned more than 4 million euros in revenue
(Eatech.fi, Kauppalehti.fi, 2015). The company provides an assortment of customer-
specific software solutions including system, application, and user interface development
for mobile, web and devices integrations, and continuous services. The company serves
a wide range of customers from different industries, such as trade, logistics, oil industry,
and ICT sector.
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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The author aims to achieve the research goals and objectives through several approaches,
including communicating with and interviewing the professionals of the case company,
analysing the experiences of marketing endeavours, and investigating the recruitment
activities on different social media platforms.
To this end, with the research background and objectives described above, two research
questions are formulated as follows:
Research question 1: What is the core employee value proposition (EVP) that can be
used to increase the employer’s attractiveness and differentiate it from its competitors?
The first question concerns the company’s internal view, understanding the reality of
strengths and weaknesses that the company possesses in employer branding management.
Based on that, this study tries to identify the attributes of employer attractiveness. This
study strives to find out the values that current employees expect from their employer,
Moreover, we aim to understand and identify the value propositions that the company can
deliver to the current and potential talent. It is often regarded that the value propositions
of a company shape their reputation for branding activities. Besides, it is important to
learn about the trend of outside audiences, and the expectations of targeted talent.
Moreover, in order to obtain the comprehensive picture, it is necessary to benchmark with
their competitors.
Research question 2: What is the role of social media in enhancing the employer brand?
What are the available tool(s) that could help a company to improve its employer brand
on social media?
The second question deals with the measurement of the social media in marketing the
employer brand. Potential sub-questions include:
[1] How can a company utilise social media in managing its employer brand and
recruiting activities?
[2] How can a company measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing and
recruitment activities performance on social media?
For the sub-question 2, this thesis will define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and
exploit the data from different social media platforms as a tool to measure the marketing
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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activities, branding, and performance regarding the employer branding. It will focus
particularly on recruitment to help building an effective and efficient strategy later.
1.3 Thesis structure
The thesis consists of seven chapters, outlined as follows:
Chapter 1: Introduction
The first chapter introduces the overall view of the employer brand and social media in
the current labour market as a background and a motivation of the thesis. The research
objectives and questions are outlined in this chapter.
Chapter 2: Literature review
The literature review provides fundamental theoretical frameworks of the relevant
concepts discussed in the thesis, such as the employer brand and social media use in the
employer brand. This chapter serves as the basis for the empirical analysis.
Chapter 3: Methodology
This chapter describes the details of the method used in the research and the reasoning
for the choice of method. Moreover, it explains the data collection approach and data
analysis for the research.
Chapter 4: Case study
A brief introduction of the case company is given in this chapter. This thesis aims to
achieve an insight into the case company regarding the employer brand. Hence, the usage
of social media in developing the employer brand will be studied, too.
Chapter 5: Results
Based on the theoretical basis of chapter two, this chapter provides the findings from the
interviews with the employees and the employer of the case company. This chapter also
shows the result of data analysis towards the use of social media. The analysis is based
on the defined KPIs. The results are obtained by measuring the effectiveness of the social
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
10
media tools in the case company’s marketing activities and in comparison with their
competitors.
Chapter 6: Discussion
This chapter includes discussion of the outcomes of the thesis by answering the research
questions about two main issues: the EVP and the use of social media in employer
branding. The discussion of the trustworthiness (i.e. verification, validation and
relevance) of the thesis will also be elaborated.
Chapter 7: Conclusions
A summary of the thesis is provided in this chapter. A brief conclusion of the answers to
the research questions is included. Additionally, the practical implications of the thesis
results and its effect on the case company are mentioned. Lastly, this chapter points out
the limitations of the thesis.
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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2 LITERATURE REVIEW
This thesis utilises a medium-sized technological firm (Eatech Oy) in Finland as a case
study. The aim is to gain deep insights into how the firm under investigation, by making
use of social media, builds their employer brand both internally and externally. The
literature review in this section will be provided into two subchapters based on the
formulated research questions in Chapter 1. Therefore, the literature review contains
several related concepts, including the employer brand, corporate reputation
management, and recruitment communication. It also covers relevant theories supporting
the social media application in the employer brand management and the measurement
methods.
2.1 Employer brand
This subchapter covers the overall definition of the employer brand and the corporate
reputation.
2.1.1 Definition
The employer brand commonly is represented by visual designs, such as a brand logo, a
slogan, and other elements to identify the brand (Mosley, 2014). However, Ambler and
Barrow (1996) are the first well-known scholars who defined the employer brand concept
in a different view. They defined that the employer brand is a reputation of an
organization or an employer. Afterwards, Figurska and Matuska (2013) and Mosley
(2014) also agreed with the prior studies and perceived the employer brand in a broader
view and argued that the employer brand is a complex concept comprising different
tangible and intangible factors, and long-term values. It is the identity, brand experience
and reputation, and the ability to differentiate organizations from the competitors in the
industry. These factors include attractiveness of the field, company’s reputation, quality
of products and service, work environment, employees’ salary and economic benefits,
people and culture, work-life balance and corporate social responsibility (Figurska &
Matuska, 2013; Minchington, 2014).
To this end, there are several different definitions of the employer brand with diverse
perspectives. The UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) guide
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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(Walker and Platt-Higgins, 2009) and Mosley (2014) described the employer brand as “a
set of attributes and qualities – often intangible – that makes an organization distinctive,
promises a particular kind of employment experience, and appeals to those people who
will thrive and perform to their best in its culture”. The employer brand is also viewed as
a personal brand with its personality. The employer brand personality comprises
credibility, uniqueness, reliability, and durability seen by stakeholders’ point of view (the
current employees and the potential employees in this context) (Ambler & Barrow, 1996).
The brand-as-person is helpful to understand the relationship between employers and the
employees (Ambler & Barrow, 1996).
In some other definitions, the employer brand is considered similarly to the conventional
product brand offering to consumers. However, it is defined in an employment context
that involves functional (developmental activities), economic (material or monetary
rewards) and psychological benefits (feeling belonging, direction and purpose) provided
from employers to employees (Ambler & Barrow, 1996; Edwards, 2010; Figurska &
Matuska. 2013). The employer brand is seen as the combination of human resources and
the normal product brand marketing (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). Affinity is a key driver
of the employer brand concept, which relates to the psychological engagement. For
example, trust is the principle of the customer relationship in the consuming market. It is
also a critical component for an organization building their relationship with employees.
Psychological engagement, in the context of an employee, consists of the employees’
loyalty, engagement, and advocacy (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009). Therefore, a well-
managed employer brand can potentially affect employees’ desire to work and retain in
an organization.
While the product and the company brands are used for the external audiences in the
consuming market, the employer brand targets both the internal and the external
audiences in the labour market (Ambler & Barrow, 1996; Mosley, 2014; Figurska &
Matuska, 2013) as described in Figure 3. Depending on the strategy of a company and
the stage of their brand development process, these two divisions are emphasised
concurrently or separately (Figurska & Matuska. 2013).
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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Figure 3: Employer brand division (Figurska & Matuska, 2013)
The concepts of corporate culture and identity, internal marketing and corporate
reputation share the recognition of intangible assets for building the relationship between
the organization and its employees, and between the employer and its identity to the
external stakeholders. Ambler and Barrow (1996) speculated whether the employer brand
concept exists or whether it is a synthesis of these concepts. These concepts may overlap
somewhat with each other, but they are also different from each other.
The organizational identity is particularly relevant to the employer brand concept, as it
represents a distinctive characteristic of an organization (Backhaus & Tikoo 2004;
Edwards, 2010). Organizational identity represents an overall image of an organization
as a unique characteristic in the employer brand perspective (Edwards, 2010). The Nigel
Wright Recruitment (2008) considered the organizational identity as “the degree to which
a member defines him/herself by the same attributes that he/she believes define the
organization”. In other words, when employees believe and share the same attributes of
Employer brand
Internal brand
Target: current
employees
Goal: promoting internal
brand drives retention,
engagement, loyalty,
prductivity and corporate
culture
External brand
Target: potential
talent and other
stakeholders
Goal: promoting the external
brand drives attraction and
affinity of targeted audiences,
enhance recruitment projects
of potential talent.
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
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an organization, they become self-defining. We argue that an employee is part of and
plays an important role in defining an organizational identity.
Sullivan (2004) argues that a culture of sharing and continuous development is a
foundation of a good employer brand. Executive management of the company should
actively communicate, encourage, evaluate and reward employees’ efforts of
development, and share the best practices within the company (Figurska & Matuska,
2013). Hence, employer branding activities reinforce the organizational culture. The
organizational culture is an essential factor to applicants while considering a workplace
of choice (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004). The organizational culture is seen as a supporting
value to the organizational strategy to create an organizational identity (Ambler &
Barrow, 1996).
While the employer brand mainly targets the current and the potential employees,
corporate reputation considers how an organization is perceived by the external audiences
(Edwards, 2010). The author found that, to apply for a job, the potential applicants are
more likely to consider an organization that has a positive corporate reputation. Corporate
reputation is one of the positive predictors from the job seekers’ viewpoints besides the
organization familiarity. In other words, the stronger the reputation is, the more attractive
it is to potential applicants. Internal marketing by some definitions is understood as the
internal branding. This term will be explained in more detail later in this chapter.
Owing to the constant change of the nature of business, the concepts of the corporate
brand or the corporate reputation are much more developed and complex than before.
Nonetheless, Ambler and Barrow (1996) affirmed that corporate reputation is developed
based on the fundamental of “the observation and assessment of consistent behaviour
over time”. It adds value to an organization and its product. Thus, it sustains the business.
Therefore, three key components define a corporate reputation; these are competence,
consistency and integrity (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). Furthermore, Foster et al. (2010)
stated that corporate reputation is promises made between an organization and its
stakeholders, including both the external and the internal stakeholders. When the
organization is competent to deliver what they promise to their customers and their
employees consistently over time, we can expect them to have a corporate reputation.
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2.1.2 Employer brand objectives
The employer brand is meant for creating “the image of your organization as a great place
to work” (Minchington, 2006). It is used to develop a positive image of an organization
as an “employer of choice”. It helps to keep current employees stay in the organization
and to attract potential talent in the labour market (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012).
To practice the employer brand, an organization considers both costs and benefits of the
investments. A good strategy and proper implementation of the employer brand which
lead to a well-recognised brand is beneficial to cost. A strong employer brand will
leverage the levels of talent attraction and employee engagement, which contribute
directly to better financial results (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). However, the key
fundamental objective that any company seeks to achieve is the differentiation in a highly
competitive labour market in the long term (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012; Figurska &
Matuska, 2013; Mosley, 2014). Employer branding development is a process to identify
what attributes make a company’s employees’ experience different in their workplaces
from others so that they would be proud and recommend it as a great place to work. The
process must build upon accuracy and an honest reflection of the internal reality of the
organization, giving a positive influence and commitment to their employees (Walker &
Platt-Higgins, 2009). In other words, the organization must clarify the essence of what
value propositions they offer as an employer, and how their employees feel and
experience the workplace in reality. If they could manage, it helps create distinctive
values that characterise an organization as ‘a brand’ (Edwards, 2010). The distinctive
organizational values that are unique specify an organization’s characteristics,
highlighted by employment’s offerings or working environment. For instance, employees
are benefited by well-designed and consistent policies, including attractive salary
packages, recognition and rewards, proper work-life balance, democracy and equality,
career development, and leadership opportunity. These values could be the organizational
assets, a prerequisite that contributes to the competitive advantage sustainably in the
labour market (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004; Lalwani & Parmar, 2012; Figurska & Matuska.
2013; Sivertzen, et al., 2013). One argument of Edwards (2010) about employment
experience creation is that it is an interactive issue. Employment offering advertised in
employer branding activities helps to shape the employee expectations of the
organizational obligations and, accordingly, the expectation will turn into a positive (or a
negative) experience when the offering is (or is not) delivered. On the other hand, the
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organization’s expectation of employees’ duties will contribute to the creation of
distinctive attributes in the employment experience for the employer branding. Therefore,
the expectation will form the basis of the employment experience which influences the
employer branding activities as a ‘psychological contract’ binding between an employer
and an employee.
As discussed, an employee’s experience can relate to the economic aspects which
apparently vary between the organizations (Ambler & Barrow, 1996; Figurska &
Matuska, 2013; Edwards, 2010). However, the objective is not only to provide employees
with tangible benefits, but also to grow the emotional connection with the organization
(Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). Employment experience also involves intangible attributes
such as socio-emotional needs (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009; Mosley, 2014). A career
nowadays holds more value to an individual than a means to pay the bills. Laszlo Bock,
Senior Vice President of People Operations of Google stated that, “people do not stay for
the money” (Goudreau, 2015). He also claimed that there is a positive correlation between
the meaningfulness of a job to employees and their productivity. Therefore, we argue that
the distinctive values are closely associated with the personal professional development
(functional benefit) and the given sense of purpose of a job (psychological benefit) that
will improve the experience and increase the employee engagement to their employer. In
other words, the stronger employer brand that the employees and job seekers perceive,
the more they feel a sense of pride for the organization they work for or in which they
intend to pursue their career, as it “adds value to a job beyond a job itself” (Edwards,
2010). Moreover, Ambler and Barrow (1996) denoted that the improvement in the
employee motivation leads to an increase in the employee performance. In turn, it leads
to the improvement of customer relationships, since “there is established a connection
between the employee’s satisfaction and the customer’s satisfaction” (Figurska &
Matuska. 2013). In other words, the employee performance is an important driver of the
consumer brand, which contributes to the corporate brand. Hence, altogether they fortify
the brand equity to achieve the virtuous circle in an organization.
In addition, with the increasing competition for finding the talented employees, the
recruitment process has evolved and has become much more sophisticated. The
application of the employer brand in recruitment is now a part of the process of conveying
the organization’s vision and mission to their employees and potential candidates and
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communicating the organizational brand so that they can understand and share the same
values. Recruitment communication contributes to the comprehensive organizational
culture (Rosethorn & Group, 2009; Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). Nonetheless, the
communication process should be holistic and honest. An overly positive image of the
organization in promotional materials exposed to potential applicants might influence
their perception and expectation toward the company culture. An unrealistic perception
provided to the employees by giving a disguised image of the organization might lead to
the higher possibility of resigning employees. It also raises questions of commitment of
the organization to external stakeholders (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004; Edwards, 2010).
Additionally, transparency is an essential factor influencing the employer branding
communication of organizations (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). The image and the
reputation of an organization can be easily spread to a larger audience through social
media channels. They could either be positive or negative in employees’ opinions
(Figurska & Matuska, 2013). Therefore, the information communication, both internally
and externally, should be honest and trustworthy.
The aim of the employer brand development is to deliver an organization’s image which
cares about the employees’ interest and focuses on their professional development
(Figurska & Matuska, 2013). The employer brand is delivered to both internal and
external audiences based on the set of offering and promises to the current and the
potential talent. Since satisfying current employees and retaining talent are critical to the
organization as an employer, these promises should meet the expectations of what the
employees seek for in the first place (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009). When an
organization’s expectations and commitments are articulated, the organization will gain
the reputation for sustaining internal values and become a highly recognised brand
externally (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). Furthermore, the investment in recruiting, training
and developing talent can only be returned when they remain long enough in the
organization to make the reimbursement (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). The improvement of
the company in recruitment, measured by the quality and quantity of applications, makes
it attractive and recognised conspicuously to talented candidates by giving a clear picture
of distinctive values obtained from the workplace. The distinctive values obtained are
aligned between the expectation of the purpose of work for a particular organization, what
it offers and demands, and the actual experience on a day-to-day basis through the
application process, joining and beyond (Edwards, 2010, Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009).
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2.1.3 Employer branding
Every organization has an employer brand regardless if they want it or not. The employer
brand can be of positive or negative impacts, depending on how the organization
perceives it. The issue of employer branding has gradually become the key to the
competitive success of an organization, also as a basis of sustainability of corporate
reputation (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). Due to the importance of the employer brand role
in the highly competitive employment market, employer branding is a long-term effort
for the organization to build a unique identity of the employer brand. The unique identity
can be achieved by developing the awareness and perceptions of employees and potential
talent toward a particular organization (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004; Figurska & Matuska,
2013). Building the employer brand is a shared mission across different departments of
the company (Edwards, 2010). The survey of Employer Brand International
(Minchington, 2014) revealed that the responsibility for the employer branding actions is
becoming more fragmented, concerning human resources department (37%), executive
management side (18%) and marketing department (14%). Especially, about 46 percent
of the respondents emphasised that the responsibility of branding activities is a
managerial issue.
Backhaus and Tikoo (2004) presented a conceptual framework of employer branding,
illustrated in Figure 4 below.
Figure 4: Employer branding concept (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004)
This conceptual framework relates to the concept of corporate image and reputation
discussed by Ambler and Barrow (1996), where major factors are presented, employer’s
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images, organization’s reputation, and organization culture. Correspondingly, the
framework of Backhaus and Tikoo (2004) also introduced two key factors: brand
associations and brand loyalty. The brand associations are determinants of the brand
image, which enhance the process of value-matching between talent and organizations.
In other words, the employer brand associations set the employer image, which involves
the attraction to potential talent outside the organization. Therefore, the employer image
has a correlative effect on the attractiveness of the employer. The employer brand loyalty
refers to the motivation of the current employees to turn into the employee productivity
and retention. The employer brand loyalty is likely to be understood as a consumer brand
represented by the trust. The trust is built between the employer brand’s promises and the
employee loyalty. It is the organization’s commitment to their employees and vice versa
that builds the trust. By delivering the promises and satisfying employees’ expectations,
the employers achieve the employee loyalty. Furthermore, the organizational
commitment is tied to the organizational culture, which relates to the organizational
behaviour and the employees’ behaviour.
The framework specifies that employer branding requires the consistency and the
interaction of internal and external marketing of an organization. In other words, this
conceptual framework suggests the collaboration of human resources and marketing
strategies to achieve the employer branding management successfully. In accordance with
the framework process, the employer branding management begins with establishing the
organization’s values to fortify the organizational culture and the organization identity.
This leads to the necessity of defining the employee value proposition.
Edwards (2010) specified that employer branding is “an activity where principles of
marketing are applied to HR activities in relation to the current and the potential
employees”. Employer branding is also identified as a process of applying ‘science of
branding’ at a higher level of determining policies and practices in human resource
activities, such as recruitment, coordination and talent management regarding current
talented employees and potential ones (Rosethorn & Group, 2009; Edwards, 2010;
Mosley, 2014). Since the concept of employer branding is the combination of marketing
and human resources area, Backhaus and Tikoo (2004) divided its scope into two key
parts: internal branding and external branding (Figure 5). Due to the differences between
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target segment and approach in each activity, the internal and external branding will be
either on the side of human resources or the marketing sphere.
Figure 5: Employer branding scope (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004)
2.1.3.1 Internal branding
Internal branding concerns current and potential employees their expectations and the
employment experiences (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). By strategically communicating and
conveying the employer brand’s value and goal to the audiences, an organization will be
enabled to share and achieve the distinctive characteristics (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004).
This process is mainly in the hand of the human resources department of an organization
as they bring many benefits directly to the organization human resources department
(Figurska & Matuska, 2013). These benefits of effective internal branding may include
increasing employee engagement, boosting the level of the trust and loyalty of the
organization, avoiding talent shortage and brainwash, and maintaining employees’
retention rate in the organization. Moreover, building a good relationship with current
and former employees can directly strengthen the employer brand. Lastly, an effective
internal branding will elevate the overall performance of the employees. Thus, a
successful internal branding will become a strategic tool to strengthen the organization’s
competitive advantage in the labour market. Nonetheless, the competitive advantage is
sustainable only if the brand is continued and consistent, because the internal brand helps
to reinforce the quality of the employment and to enrich the experience, and thereby, the
employees want to stay with an organization (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004).
Internal
branding
External
branding
Employer
branding
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2.1.3.2 External branding
Employer branding particularly emphasises the external communication which enables
increasing the awareness of an organization’s reputation and its attraction to the best
possible talent (Edwards, 2010). External branding activities are performed by using the
external sources, which might require some monetary investment or other forms of
investments (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). The successful performance of an organization
is seen as a positive effect on the overall employer brand perception of that organization
to external audiences (Edwards, 2010). The impact of employer brand perception to
external audiences can be shown in the increasing number of applicants for a job
advertisement, better quality of candidates, faster and easier access to the talent pool, and
lower recruitment costs (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). The stronger the employer brand is,
the lower the cost is that the organization must invest in recruitment. For instance, the
organization that has a strong employer brand does not have to pay for recruitment
agencies and other conventional marketing channels, because talent usually keeps
browsing the job openings announcement on the company’s website or social media
channels to seize new opportunities.
Turban and Greening (1996) show that organizations tend to be more attractive to
applicants when they show more social responsibility, such as community activities,
employee relations, environmental policies, and product quality (Edwards, 2010). For
instance, an organization can sponsor events at the universities and social communities to
create more visibility and have more positive effects on the potential talent and other
stakeholders. Hence, it is critical to provide information on employer branding beyond
the organization success in order to bring the most impact.
Moreover, Turban & Greening (1996) also found that employer branding communication
requires a long-term effort in order to create the perception of the organization’s
reputation and the familiarity to external audiences and potential applicants (Edwards,
2010). One effective approach for external branding is earning the public’s recognition
(Figurska & Matuska, 2013). When an organization is recognised, for example, being
listed in a great-place-to-work or best employer list from trustworthy organizations
internationally and locally, it presents a higher impact of the organization’s employer
brand on the external targets. Additionally, the company will become a benchmarking
company, which sets standards and best practices for the others to follow and emulate.
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More importantly, the organization also set themselves in a differentiated position in the
employment market. Successful internal branding can also be a booster of the external
marketing activities. For example, employees proudly share their stories about the
workplace, which will lead to an increase of applicant quantity for open positions via
employee referrals.
2.1.4 Employer branding framework
We acknowledge that employer branding is a long-term development process. Walker
and Platt-Higgins (2009) illustrate the process in four stages, see Figure 6.
Figure 6: Employer brand development and communication (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009)
The process of building the employer brand follows the stages below:
1. Discovery: the first stage is to persuade the top management to understand what the
employer brand definition and current trends are. This stage makes them realise the
vital role of the employer brand for the organization’s employees and the external
talent market. This stage requires an intensive effort from the top management to
expedite upon their perceivability. The necessary actions involved in this stage are
measuring the current overall performance and applying baseline metrics, for
example, conducting an employee survey, building rapport with the marketing,
public relation and human resources department, defining the external partners and
assessing the talent pool approach. The organization is assumed to realise the
characteristics of the current employer brand, how it is perceived by the top
management, current employees, potential candidates and other target groups.
2. Analysis, interpretation and creation: this is a critical stage for the process and it is
the link between the planning and the action. The organization starts to see a clear
picture of the organization’s vision of employer branding by developing a plan and
allocating resources to execute the plan. The vision describes distinctive values, how
the organization would like to be seen as an employer, and what values and
experiences the organization wants to offer to their current and potential employees.
Discovery
Analysis,
interpretation
and creation
Implementation
and
communication
Measurement,
maintenance
and optimisation
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By defining brand attributes, especially Employee Value Proposition (EVP), the
organization can associate each attribute and behaviour to the target audience
segment which initiates the expression of the brand. This stage helps to understand
the organization thoroughly and to create the employer brand.
3. Implementation and communication: involve the external and internal marketing
activities. The implementation step is, in fact, to fill the gap between the two previous
stages, the present brand reality and the vision or the desired employer brand.
External marketing communicates the message and the image to the labour market,
to the potential candidates, recruitment agencies and other target groups to make the
organization become an employer of choice. The next step is applying the brand
created in the previous stages comprehensively to the material application
information, including websites, social media channels, and interview process. The
promotional material must ensure the authenticity of values that the organization
promises to offer, so that the candidates will experience the full alignment of what
they have been expecting and what they have been provided. Simultaneously
happening to the external focus, the organization also launches the brand internally.
Internal branding aims to develop human resources, which adheres to the values and
objectives set by the organization. Human resources also ensure that the current
employees can recognise the values and believe in them. Current employees are the
best representatives of the employer brand to transfer values to the external
audiences, possibly on online channels.
4. Measurement, maintenance and optimisation: the organization needs to monitor
undertaken projects by conducting qualitative research both externally and internally
regarding the new brand. The organization must be able to measure improvements
based on the original baseline metrics set in the first stage, such as recruitment and
retention metrics. Branding metrics are essential components for the executive
management in the assessment process as well as for the improvement. The branding
metrics should be well defined and aligned with the organization’s objectives and all
other business functions. This step helps to control the results and to have a clear
view whether the vision and all the values of the employer brand are truly delivered
to the target stakeholders. Besides, it is essential to keep track of the process to
optimise the plan, if needed.
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Nowadays, attracting the best competent people and retaining them have become two of
the most important concerns of any organization due to the increasing competition for
talents. Recruitment has changed into a much more sophisticated process. Therefore,
employer branding has become a goal and a tool used to support the recruitment process
of an organization.
A strong brand is established based on an in-depth understanding of the connection
between the brand and its audience. How do current employees and potential ones
comprehend the organization’s objectives and values? Employer branding is no longer
just a visual image. It is all about “Employee Value Proposition” or EVP (Barrow &
Mosley, 2005; Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). Employer Brand International claims that EVP
is considered as a core element in the employer brand framework (Minchington, 2014),
Figure 7 shows this trend.
Figure 7: Employer brand framework according to the Employer Brand International (Minchington, 2014)
Employee Value Proposition is a unique value proposition that an individual receives
through an employment relationship with a particular employer. Two critical factors of
building the EVP are continuity and consistency (Barrow & Mosley, 2005). If these value
propositions are delivered as promised, the positive reputation of an organization as a
workplace is strengthened (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). Defining EVP helps an
organization to differentiate their employment activities from other competing
organizations (Edwards, 2010). Nevertheless, the consistency and continuity are extended
to a certain degree due to the change of people’s needs, aspirations and the organization’s
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situation over time. Hence, to maintain the competitiveness in the market, the
organization should try to develop and offer appealing EVPs to meet the trend (Barrow
& Mosley, 2005).
Besides, the employer brand strategic platform including organizational values, vision,
corporate reputation and culture, characteristics of the employer, and other attributes also
facilitate to clarify the EVP of an organization (Minchington, 2014; Edwards, 2010). The
employer brand strategic platform is utilised to craft and manage the employer brand
strategy and to support EVP delivery. The employer brand employee platform (EBEP)
involves different activities of employer branding (recruitment and induction, employee
recognition programme, human resources services communications, mentor programme,
and employee survey) that bring people together, unite the current staff and the external
stakeholders. Moreover, it also attracts the most suitable talent who will thrive in the
organizational culture. Through various programmes from the human resources
department, the employer brand employee platform enables employees not to be just
passive observers to employer brand representatives. In fact, the employer brand
employee platform is the link that connects the core layer of the EVP and the employer
brand strategic platform layer. In other words, it fills the gap between the organization’s
values and objectives and the values received by an individual (the current employees and
the potential employees) (Minchington, 2014).
In the employer branding report of Nigel Wright Consultancy (Nigel Wright Recruitment,
2008) and the research of Berthon et al. (2005), there are five fundamental values in the
employer brand building strategy. These values are associated with the EVP, the
employer brand strategic platform (EBSP), and the employer brand employee platform
(EBEP) of the Employer Brand International’s framework (Minchington, 2014) (Figure
7):
1. Development value: individuals are attracted to a workplace where they will be
recognised and rewarded for what they contribute to the success of the
organization. The development value can lead to the possibility of future career
opportunities of the individual (Sivertzen et al., 2013). The employees are
provided self-worth and confidence to enhance their career development. This key
value is associated with two other values: interest value and application value.
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1.1 Interest value: the extent to which an individual is interested in a workplace,
where he can share with others the same interest in working conditions,
including work environment and work practices. The person is appealed by
an employer that encourages employees to express their creativity into work
practices in an exciting work environment. Creating the interest value will
increase the potential candidates’ awareness of the company as an employer.
1.2 Application value: candidates see opportunities to apply and implement what
they have learnt and experienced to innovate the production in the
organization and their employment. Besides, this value also implies to what
extent the company is customer-oriented (Sivertzen et al., 2013). The
organization enables possibilities and makes it easy for employees to do their
work and have freedom in their creativity. In other words, the company grants
employee empowerment, through which they gain ownership and
responsibility for their work. The innovative ideas are listened to and
recognised so that it inspires them to develop and so that they are willing to
stay longer in the organization. The top management should be active in
listening and communicating with employees about their ideas and opinions
as well as their expectations. The management can give them honest
feedback, deliver expectations and goals from the organization’s point of
view. Highly hierarchical management of the organization might be an
obstacle to creating this value.
2. Economic value: this value is associated with the recognition and reward of the
development value. Additionally, a candidate is attracted to an employer with a
good salary and compensation package, job security, leadership and promotion
opportunities. The salary and compensation package are sensitive factors but very
critical to set the competitiveness of the company. It seems to be a material matter,
but it is a psychological issue indeed when employees feel being fairly paid and
feel self-worth for their contribution to the company. It also encourages them to
develop their work and boost up their performance overall.
3. Social value: it is becoming more and more important in building employer brand
because it refers to work environment and relations with other employees
(Sivertzen et al., 2013). It increases the employee loyalty and trust that encourage
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a higher level of their retention. This value can include different elements, such
as fun and a motivating work environment, supportive teamwork, employment
commitment, work-life balance, democracy and equality, complying ethical
standards, and organizational behaviour with society (Nigel Wright Recruitment,
2008). The social value that is created, may vary based on the types of
organizations and the target stakeholders.
Although all these five dimensions are crucial to indicate the attractiveness of an
organization, the study of Sivertzen et al. (2013) suggested that employer branding should
focus on non-monetary factors (e.g. compensation), particularly in the social media
channels. In the study, the psychological values, innovation values, and application values
relate directly to the corporate reputation which correlates with the intention to apply for
a job.
It is important to consider the organizational culture and other demographic (e.g.
nationality, gender, and age) differences when building the EVP and the employer brand
platforms (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). For example, women are more concerned with a
good work-life balance and a pleasant working atmosphere, while men seek financial
security and prospects of career development. Male employees are also attracted to the
application of innovative technologies in their work and management. Moreover,
different generations of employees will pursue different expectations and values. For
instance, young employees aged 18-24 (Generation Y) are attracted to organizations that
can offer good training and career opportunities to grow in future, those who are 25-44
(Generation X) are concerned about more about salary, work-life balance and flexible
working hours, since their social roles change to parents. Finally, the Baby Boomers
generation (above 45 years old) looks for employment security and finance stability.
Particularly, social media and internet networking used in the job searching is relatively
more popular among men than among women and the group with higher education. The
notable rise of social media and the Internet has become a dominant factor in modern
employer branding and has substantial impact on the organization’s image and reputation
in the society (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). Hence, it is crucial to emphasise the role of a
strategic approach in the whole employer branding process.
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Barrow and Mosley (2005) took Microsoft as a good example to see how this framework
is applied in practice. Microsoft tailored the proposition differently to each target group
to provide a unique employment experience.
For technical area: “Make a difference – A career at Microsoft offers you the chance to
be at the forefront of technological development, working with smart colleagues on
meaningful projects. It is an opportunity to enjoy impact and ownership; your
responsibilities have the potential to leave a lasting technological legacy.”
Microsoft created the interest value and application value to technical candidates with
modern technology and encouraging to apply innovation to their works in a very
motivating work environment.
Marketing EVP: “Your Impact Knows No Boundaries – There is a certain satisfaction in
knowing that your strategic marketing ideas help connect technology to millions of people
around the world. In a marketing career at Microsoft, the possibilities of making an impact
are limitless.”
The recruits in the marketing industry are often attracted by the opportunity to express
their creativity and to make an impact globally. Microsoft has established clearly the
development value in their EVP to target the marketing group.
Human Resources EVP: “Fulfilment Is the Catalyst for Achievement – It is an important
mission to bring the right people in and taking good care of them. It plays a critical role
in helping Microsoft generate technology that positively affects the lives of millions of
people around the world. This mission is also your opportunity to discover just how far
your abilities, ideas, and skills can advance your career. In Human Resources at
Microsoft, your big ideas matter and we want to see them take you far.”
Besides the interest value offered to all their potential employees, they want to be an
incentive to candidates’ self-worth and prospects in their career development.
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2.2 Social media
In this subchapter, theories of social media will be presented. It will provide a definition
of social media, their impact on employer brand management, social media insights, and
measurement.
2.2.1 Social media definition
Today, along with the technological advancement, social media enable us to
communicate easily and to share information globally. Social media create a non-border
world or so-called “virtual worlds”. They allow citizens of the world to freely choose how
they want to live, and to behave in their virtual lives similarly as to how they behave in
their real lives (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010; Kärkkäinen et al., 2010).
Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) defined social media as “a group of Internet-based
applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and
that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content”. This definition contains
two interrelated concepts: Web 2.0 and User Generated Content. The term social media
and Web 2.0 are often used interchangeably; however, social media are associated with
the social aspects such as conversations, communities, and connections, while Web 2.0
is mainly related to online applications (Constantinides & Fountain, 2008). Web 2.0
allows creating content by interacting and collaborating with users or online communities
around the World Wide Web (Berthon et al., 2012; Kaplan & Haenlein 2010).
Additionally, it also enables users to communicate and share various information easily
via communities, social networking sites and virtual worlds (Kärkkäinen et al., 2010).
Because a set of functionalities of Web 2.0 allows users to update web content in a
collaborative way without affecting the structure and behaviour of the whole page, Web
2.0 “delivers rich user experiences” (Berthon et al., 2012). Hence, Web 2.0 is considered
as a foundation of the evolution of modern social media (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
Another key component of social media is the User Generated Content (UGC), the media
content in various forms and formats such as text, photos, and videos that are created by
the end-users and are available publicly. The contents need to be effort for commercial
purpose (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The UGC inspires users to participate and to
contribute in creating value (Berthon et al., 2012). Hence, social media refer to “content
distributed through social interactions” (Jones et al., 2015). In other words, Web 2.0 is
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
30
the ideological and technological foundation of social media, while UGC is the way
people make use of social media (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
Similarly, Blackshaw (2006) defined social media as the Internet-based applications that
carry consumer-generated media (CGM). The content in social media is “created by
consumers, typically informed by relevant experience, and archived or shared online for
easy access by other impressionable consumers” (Jones et al., 2015).
Social media involve the participation of the online community in creating the content. It
provides various platforms which can be utilised for different purposes and target
different groups of users with their functionalities (Jue et al., 2010). For instance, for
enhancing employee engagement and advocacy, social media are known as “the various
tools available to help accelerate and improve our ability to connect, communicate and
collaborate with others” (Jue et al., 2010).
2.2.1.1 Characteristics of the social media
Based on research conducted by Mislove et al. (2007) and Dube (2009), five key
characteristics of social media including user-based, interactive, communitive-driven,
relationship and emotion over content have been clarified. However, though there are
various theories of social media, they all share similar principles of the social media
characteristics which are users’ interaction and exchanging information on social media.
The key element settings are:
 Community-driven: the fundamental element of social media. Similarly, to the
principle of the social network in the real environment, it is the formulation of
communities or social groups by users who share commonalities such as beliefs,
hobbies, and schools.
 User-based content: the contents are generated and shared by users. The flow of
information is updated via users’ interaction, such as conversations and comments
on social media. Anyone can participate in discussing the direction of the content
which makes social media much more dynamic and entertaining.
 Relationship management: the networks or contacts that users or companies build
on social media platforms. The more relationships that a user has in the social
media network, the more influential the position of the user in the network is.
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
31
 Identity and reputation: indicate to which extent the users reveal their personal
information to identify themselves in the social media setting.
 Interaction: social media offer a new way to connect, exchange information and
enable public discussion more easily compared to forums and chatrooms. Social
networking sites, such as Facebook, allow users to share ideas, opinions, and
photos with their networks, and play games together with friends.
2.2.1.2 Social media classification
Every day new platforms are developed, and only few of them become popular worldwide
with billions of users around the globe (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). It is impractical and
unfeasible to list all the social media channels. Moreover, most other studies focus on
social media channels, and the general opportunities and challenges of social media. Since
this thesis aims to investigate the current most popular channels (blogs and social
networking sites) to be used in the empirical research part, a common classification of the
social media channels and tools are presented in this section. Particularly, it is crucial to
understand each of the social media tools in order to utilise its usage in companies (Jue et
al., 2010).
In fact, since new sites constantly appear in cyberspace, there is no systematic or fixed
method to classify all the social media applications (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). However,
social media can be divided into different categories based on the applications’ functions
and types. For example, some platforms are used in a certain geographical area or based
on their functionalities. By reviewing various theories of social media, a few existing
ways can be identified to classify the social media channels:
1. Categories based on the two key elements of social media, media theories (social
presence, media richness) and social processes (self-presentation, self-disclosure)
(Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
Kaplan & Haenlein (2010) assumed that “the higher the social presence, the larger
the social influence that the communication partners have on each other’s
behaviour.” In addition, the concept of media richness is closely associated with
social presence. The degree of richness of the information transmitted determines
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
32
its effectiveness and differentiation from others in resolving ambiguity and
uncertainty.
Concerning the social dimension of social media, the self- presentation concept
of Goffman (1959) demonstrated that people have a desire to influence others to
gain recognition and to create their personal identities in any type of social
interaction (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The self-presentation is done consciously
or unconsciously through the self-disclosure process (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
Combining both dimensions, (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010) visualised their
approach of classifying social media, as shown in Table 1. A collaborative project,
such as Wikipedia has the lowest score on both dimensions, as it is often regarded
as text-based and has a limited user interaction. Social networking sites enable
users to disclose more personal information, such as feelings, emotions, thoughts,
and personal views by sharing pictures, videos and other forms of media besides
text content, and allow a higher level of information exchange and user
interaction. Finally, the virtual social worlds, such as Second Life and World of
Warcraft, share some of the similar aspects of the real environment. These types
of games replicate all dimensions of behaviour and interaction in life which allow
the highest level of social presence and self-disclosure.
Table 1: Classification of social media by social presence/media richness and self-presentation/self-
disclosure (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010)
Social presence/Media richness
Low Medium High
Self-
presentation/Self-
disclosure
High Blogs Social networking
sites (e.g.
Facebook)
Virtual social worlds
(e.g. Second Life)
Low Collaborative
projects (e.g.
Wikipedia)
Content
communities (e.g.
YouTube)
Virtual game worlds
(e.g. World of
Warcraft)
2. Categories based on the social media application’s functions (Constantinides &
Fountain, 2008). The UGC is the key factor of this approach because users are content
contributors of the application functions. These categories include:
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
33
 Blogs: online diaries or journal where people express their view, ideas
images, and links are becoming the fastest growing applications, podcasts,
that is, digital audio or video can be used on portable devices.
 Social networking sites: applications where users build personal websites
to exchange personal content and communicate with other, e.g. Facebook.
 Communities: websites are used to share particular types of content, such
as videos and photos, e.g. YouTube, Instagram.
 Forums: sites for exchanging ideas and information around special
interests or topics, e.g. Reddit.
 Content aggregators: applications that allow users to fully customise and
manage the content they want to access from various online sources for
reuse or resale. The content aggregator applications are based on the
technique of Real Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary (RSS).
3. Categories based on users’ purposes (Turner, 2010)
Turner (2010) divided vast social media platforms into three main categories
based on usage purposes as following:
 Platforms which help to network: e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and
Twitter.
 Platforms which help to promote: e.g. Google, Vimeo, YouTube, and
Yahoo.
 Platforms which help to share: e.g. Instagram, HootSuite, Pinterest,
Reddit, and SlideShare.
However, the usage of these platforms is often integrated to create new values and
increase the effectiveness of social media depending on users and companies’ objectives.
As mentioned earlier, this thesis aims to understand the most popular tools which will be
used to analyse the case study in the empirical part. Thus, the following section describes
the two-major current social media tools used in organizations:
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
34
 Blog: the earliest form of social media (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The blog is
considered as an online diary, journal or publishing of an individual or a company
where they can regularly post new entries (Constantinides & Fountain, 2008).
Mainly, the blog is used for the authors (so-called bloggers) to share their stories
and views about specific topics. The blog is made to gain public attention for
effective marketing and communication (Jue et al., 2010). The blog can be used
either internally or externally. Companies are using blog content to update the
important news of their development to customers, shareholders and to the current
and the potential employees. Every time the company writes a blog post, it is
creating content that people can share on social networking sites, such as
Facebook and LinkedIn, which helps expose the business, the marketing
campaign and other helpful contents to targeted audiences. One of the most
important features of a blog is providing the possibility of interaction with others
(Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The readers can interact with the blogger by sharing
their opinions, asking questions through the comment section. Moreover, the blog
is considered as a helpful learning tool where leaders and experts share
information about the current problems happening in the industry internally (Jue
et al., 2010). Therefore, the blog is an important tool for communication and
thought-sharing.
Text-based blogs are still the most common format. Nevertheless, blogs also
provide multimedia formats, e.g. photos, music, and audio links to create rich
content and deliver more experiences to users (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
Today, more and more social media applications are developed to specialise all
kinds of users’ purposes. Instead of having a general blog, users can combine
different tools to specialise the content. For example, vlog (video blog) on the
YouTube channel and presentation on SlideShare, which support visualisation of
contents to reach larger audiences, can be found across different platforms
(Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
Microblogs, such as Twitter, is similar to the blog, but the content is limited to
140 characters or less. Microblogs are widely adopted by large segments of the
population and used by individuals and businesses (Turner, 2010). Microblogs
encourage users to have a high frequency of posting entries, prompt posting,
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
35
reading and providing comments. The multimedia content can also be attached to
microblog platforms (Constantinides & Fountain, 2008).
 Social networking site is an application that allows users to connect by building
their personal profiles, inviting peers and friends to access their personal profiles,
and communicate. The personal profiles on social networking sites contain
different types of content and information including photos, video, audio files and
blogs (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The social networking site acts as an online
social community where an individual can express their life-stories, communicate
with their family and friends, organise events, and create a professional network.
Users can link and share their social network with other social media channels
(Constantinides & Fountain, 2008). Nowadays, engaging in social networking
sites has become an integral part of people daily communication routines.
Companies are already using social networking sites to support their brand
communities, increase their profit margins and enhance marketing activities
(Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
2.2.2 Social media impact on employer brand management
From the organizational perspective, social media are helpful to improve organizational
operation from communication, and attractiveness to external audiences through
amplifying the word-of-mouth effects, marketing activities and particularly to enhance
the brand awareness of cost reduction by establishing online communities (McCann &
Barlow, 2015; Jones et al., 2015). There are multiple ways to explain the phenomenal
growth of social media in communication and marketing in employer branding, such as
the penetration of the social networking sites to the job seekers (Nigel Wright
Recruitment, 2008). Almost everyone uses the social networking sites, e.g. LinkedIn and
Facebook, to look for opportunities. Thus, companies and recruiters need to be present
where the potential applicants are in order to approach and induce them to engage in the
recruitment. Social media platforms create a new concept of interaction which leads to
new possibilities and a new way of thinking in attracting the potential employees
(Sivertzen et al., 2013). Due to the limitation of resources, social media are particularly
useful for SMEs to build relationships with stakeholders, increase brand awareness,
exhibit showcase expertise and acquire new contacts compared to traditional approaches
(McCann & Barlow, 2015; Jones et al., 2015). Moreover, social media stimulate users to
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
36
interact with each other to encourage the engagement and development of a long-term
relationship with businesses and brands (Jones et al., 2015). With the use of social media,
the searching rank of business on search engines (e.g. Google) increases significantly.
Thus, the brand recognition is also enhanced (Jones et al., 2015). Therefore, companies
intensively take advantages of social media to promote employer brand campaigns
effectively and solve the issue of seeking talent (Sivertzen et al., 2013). The employer
branding process involves a wide range of social networking platforms as a recruitment
tool and to increase the employee engagement. Moreover, using social media in employer
branding activities supports building a positive corporate reputation of organizations,
which links to the intention of candidates to apply for a job position (Sivertzen et al.,
2013). In general, social media have a significant impact on employer brand management
by making it more open and democratic (Nigel Wright Recruitment, 2008; Sivertzen et
al., 2013).
In today’s recruitment process, advertising job vacancies through social media platforms
has become common and allows organizations to reduce cost, and to access and evaluate
applicants better. Besides the applicants’ qualifications, organizations take into
consideration the personalities of potential employees to evaluate the candidates, whether
they fit into the organizational culture (Nigel Wright Recruitment, 2008). Social media
sites are tools that help recruiters to observe the profiles of candidates, their personal
communications and activities, values, and lifestyles which facilitate them in making
hiring decisions. The important role of social media is to provide content to the right
target audiences more effectively (Jones et al., 2015). Moreover, social media are
beneficial for organizations to have effective interaction by promptly responding to
potential employees (Sivertzen et al., 2013).
In terms of the employer brand, social media channels gain several advantages compared
to Web 1.0. Web 1.0 provides read-only online content. It allows web users to search and
read information only in a one-way direction (Fleerackers, 2011). Social media encourage
current employees and potential candidates’ participation and contribution, so that
organizations can improve their internal and external marketing activities, as well as their
innovation process (Jue et al., 2010; Kärkkäinen et al., 2010). Social media are becoming
a global phenomenon where professionals use it as a strategic tool. In particular, social
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
37
networking sites and blogs are increasingly replacing the traditional media in terms of
brand creation (Bruhn et al., 2012).
Social media do not rely entirely on the financial situation of an organization as the
traditional marketing. The impact of social media (e.g. electronic word-of-mouth) will
continue, even though the budget runs out (The Internet Advertising Bureau, 2011).
Based on the survey conducted by HAAGA-HELIA University in 2013, the most popular
social networking site currently in Finland is Facebook with more than 2.4 million active
users. Also, Facebook (83%), YouTube (73%), LinkedIn (63%), Twitter (49%) and blog
(45%) are the five major social media channels that Finnish companies are constantly
using for their marketing purposes. Furthermore, up to (73%) of Finnish companies in the
survey expressed that social media are important to their businesses. Particularly, brand
awareness is the most important reason that companies use social media. However, social
media generate a massive amount of quantitative and raw data to analyse. Therefore,
companies find it difficult to measure the impact of social media on return on investment
(ROI) (McCann & Barlow, 2015). Approximately, 70 percent of the companies admitted
to difficulties in measuring ROI in the social media (Bocedi, 2013).
2.2.3 The social media performance measurement
The ROI of social media involves the proper analyses of the qualitative and quantitative
data, employing the informal and formal methods, and assessing the tangible and
intangible benefits, and that makes the measurement process complex (McCann &
Barlow, 2015). More and more companies have adopted social media to reach a larger
population of the target segment and to enhance their brand awareness. Because social
media are different from the traditional media in many different aspects, they bring
intangible benefits for companies, particularly, improving the communications and the
brand awareness. Since social media platforms are all about the people and relationship
between them and not the monetary value per se, it is required to have different
methodologies and techniques to measure their effects (The Internet Advertising Bureau,
2011; McCann & Barlow, 2015).
Although the literature on this topic is extensive, social media measurement in SMEs is
still in an immature state (Murdough, 2009), which makes it challenging for companies
to see a direct result from the investment of social media (McCann & Barlow, 2015). It
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
38
is crucial to fully comprehend the objectives and characteristics of social media platforms
regarding organizational goals. Measuring social media is problematic, because of the
lack of standards and tools. This section will describe some of the measurement tools and
the key performance indicators (KPIs) to help solve this problem of SMEs, partially.
2.2.3.1 Key performance indicators and measurement tools
It might be ambiguous, and possibly misinterpreted when converting quantitative metrics
to economic values (The Internet Advertising Bureau, 2011; McCann & Barlow, 2015).
To assess business value derived from social media, the Internet Advertising Bureau
(2011) suggested to combine technical metrics (soft metrics) (e.g. number of visitors)
with financial metrics (hard financial metrics) (e.g. cost per lead and cost per
engagement), and is comprehended across the organization. Unlike cost per clicks, cost
per lead defines the cost that a company should pay to the advertisement publisher only
when a lead is generated, such as account registration, and subscription. Moreover, it is
essential to focus on a few metrics for each business objective to keep evaluation simple
and flexible to avoid analysis paralysis (Murdough, 2009).
There are many social media platforms which offer built-in analytical tools such as
Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analyser, and Google Analytics (McCann & Barlow, 2015).
These built-in tools provide quantitative data on the platforms usage, such as the number
of followers, likes, page views, mentionings, and site traffic information. Besides, other
analytical software can provide more thorough and sophisticated reports about the impact
of social media across various platforms, including sentiment analysis, and interpret the
tone of a conversation. However, the effectiveness of semantic technologies is limited
due to the cultural and regional biases (McCann & Barlow, 2015). Based on the research
findings of McCann and Barlow (2015), the most common and familiar measurement
metrics are both the quantitative and the qualitative measurements.
Quantitative:
 The number of followers and enquiries on the social media channels.
 The number of visitors and site views.
 The number of engagements on the social networking sites (e.g. likes, comments
and shares on Facebook).
 Sources of traffic to a website (e.g. referrals, email, and advertisements).
Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand.
39
Qualitative:
 Brand awareness.
 Positive/negative comments and conversations and what they mean for
companies.
Some of the tools used to monitor and measure are built-in metrics provided by each
social media platform, Google Analytics, Klout, CrowdBooster, How Sociable, Visible,
Salt Social, and Bit.ly analytics (McCann & Barlow, 2015). However, a thorough
discussion of these tools is beyond the scope of this research. The Internet Advertising
Bureau (2011) established a framework (see Figure 8) to enable the consistency and
standardisation in the social media measurements.
Figure 8: The iab social media measurement framework (The Internet Advertising Bureau, 2011)
The framework of The Internet Advertising Bureau (2011) encompasses three major
blocks representing the main steps of the measurement process.
1. Intent: The framework begins with intentions of the companies. The whole
measurement process should be carried out in the relation of the pre-defined
intentions and objectives. Without clearly defined objectives, there are no criteria
to evaluate success. Similar to McCann and Barlow’s (2015) opinions, it is
essential for companies to determine their key goals, objectives, and metrics
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand
The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand

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The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand

  • 1. Kim Anh Pham THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN ENHANCING THE EMPLOYER BRAND Case study: EATECH Oy Master’s Thesis in Information Systems Supervisor: Dr. Shahrokh Nikou Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics Åbo Akademi University Åbo 2016
  • 2. i ABSTRACT The current knowledge of economy emphasises the critical role of human resources to the success of an organization. “The war for talent” has brought challenges to many organizations. Organizations need to focus more on branding their employer image to attract talented and skilful workforces in order to stay competitive in the market. Furthermore, social media have become an important marketing and communication channels for organizations and employees, thus, they create new areas and challenges for employers to manage their image and reputation in public. Practicing the employer brand involves a collaboration between the human resources department and the marketing department of an organization. In other words, it is a combination of a strong workplace culture within a company with a good image to external audiences. Therefore, building a successful employer brand requires a positive organizational culture and the effective performance of social media. The main objective of this thesis is twofold. The first objective is to construct the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and analyse the use of social media to enhance the employer brand by creating new opportunities for recruitment. The second objective is to identify the influential factors to increase the visibility of the employer brand of a medium-sized technological firm, Eatech Oy. In this thesis, the Eatech Oy has been used as a case study. From a methodological standpoint, a qualitative research method has been used in the current thesis as a methodological lens to investigate the case study (i.e. Eatech Oy). The data have been collected in two phases: (1) by conducting several interviews with the employer representative as well as with some of the employees currently working in the Eatech Oy, (2) and by analysing quantitative data collected from social media platforms and by benchmarking against other competing brands operating in the same domain as the case study. The main findings of this thesis support the previous results presented in the literature and correspond with the research questions. This thesis has constructed a set of Employee Value Propositions that would help to improve the employee engagement which is considered as a foundation for employee advocacy programme and the organizational culture. Furthermore, the measurement of the effectiveness of different social media
  • 3. ii channels shows the need for a better communication strategy on social media platforms. Additionally, continuous monitoring of social media channels is highly recommended to measure efforts of the company and to develop the marketing plan. Moreover, new technologies are being constantly developed, so adopting a more accurate measurement method would be beneficial for the case company. Overall, the research objectives of this thesis are achieved. The findings and the new insights provided in this thesis can be considered beneficial reference for further research on the same topic. In future, a generalisation of this topic in a broader scope would be a considerable contribution to the Information Technology and Services industry. Keywords: employer brand, social media, recruitment, social media management strategies
  • 4. iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Firstly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my supervisor Dr. Shahrokh Nikou for his patience, continuous support and above of all for his devotion. His expertise has guided me in all the time of doing research and writing of this thesis. My sincere thanks also goes to Mr. Antti Kopponen, Ms. Hanna Kouri, and all employees of Eatech Oy who provided me an opportunity to access and use the resources and the information of the company. Without their help and support, it would not be possible to complete this thesis. Last but not least, I would like to thank my family, my boyfriend, Kari Halme, and my friends for spiritually supporting me throughout writing this thesis and my life.
  • 5. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................I ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ..............................................................................................III TABLE OF CONTENTS................................................................................................IV 1 INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................1 1.1 Background and research motivation...........................................................3 1.2 Research objectives and research questions.................................................7 1.3 Thesis structure...............................................................................................9 2 LITERATURE REVIEW .......................................................................................11 2.1 Employer brand ............................................................................................11 2.1.1 Definition ....................................................................................................11 2.1.2 Employer brand objectives..........................................................................15 2.1.3 Employer branding......................................................................................18 2.1.3.1 Internal branding.......................................................................................... 20 2.1.3.2 External branding......................................................................................... 21 2.1.4 Employer branding framework ...................................................................22 2.2 Social media...................................................................................................29 2.2.1 Social media definition ...............................................................................29 2.2.1.1 Characteristics of the social media .............................................................. 30 2.2.1.2 Social media classification........................................................................... 31 2.2.2 Social media impact on employer brand management ...............................35 2.2.3 The social media performance measurement..............................................37 2.2.3.1 Key performance indicators and measurement tools ................................... 38 2.3 Research method...........................................................................................43 2.3.1 Qualitative method......................................................................................43 2.3.2 Case study ...................................................................................................44 2.3.3 Benchmarking .............................................................................................46 2.4 Data collection ...............................................................................................48 2.5 Data analysis..................................................................................................49 3 CASE STUDY: EATECH OY ...............................................................................51 3.1 Company Introduction: Eatech Oy.............................................................51 3.1.1 Product and service .....................................................................................52 3.1.2 Eatech’s goal...............................................................................................53 4 RESULT..................................................................................................................54 4.1 Interview findings .........................................................................................54 4.2 Measurement employer branding on the social media..............................63 4.2.1 Company website and blog.........................................................................64 4.2.2 Facebook .....................................................................................................67 4.2.3 LinkedIn......................................................................................................68
  • 6. v 4.2.4 Twitter.........................................................................................................69 5 DISCUSSION .........................................................................................................71 5.1 Answers to research questions.....................................................................71 5.1.1 The Employee Value Proposition ...............................................................71 5.1.2 Develop the employer brand.......................................................................74 5.2 Trustworthiness of the thesis .......................................................................78 6 CONCLUSION.......................................................................................................80 6.1 Research summary........................................................................................80 6.2 Practical implications of the research .........................................................81 6.3 Limitations.....................................................................................................82 REFERENCES................................................................................................................83 APPENDICES ................................................................................................................91
  • 7. vi LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: The main tools used in communicating employer brand during 2014 (Minchington, 2014) .........................................................................................................4 Figure 2: Most effective activities in enhancing employer brand during 2014 (Minchington, 2014) .........................................................................................................5 Figure 3: Employer brand division (Figurska & Matuska, 2013)...................................13 Figure 4: Employer branding concept (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004).................................18 Figure 5: Employer branding scope (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004) ....................................20 Figure 6: Employer brand development and communication (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009) ...............................................................................................................................22 Figure 7: Employer brand framework according to the Employer Brand International (Minchington, 2014) .......................................................................................................24 Figure 8: The iab social media measurement framework (The Internet Advertising Bureau, 2011)..................................................................................................................39 Figure 9: The engagement rate calculation (Smitha, 2013)............................................42 Figure 10: Eatech's revenue development 2012-2015 (Finder.fi, 2015).........................51 Figure 11: The Brand Balance model (Rosethorn, 2009) ...............................................55 Figure 12: Social network referrals of Eatech (updated 6.6.2016) .................................64 Figure 13: Audience Overview by month (Updated in June, 2016) ...............................65 Figure 14: Comparison the performance of Eatech with some of their competitors on Facebook (by week) (updated on 6.6.2016)....................................................................67 Figure 15: Comparison of Eatech's LinkedIn page with others......................................69
  • 8. vii LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Classification of social media by social presence/media richness and self- presentation/self-disclosure (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010)................................................32 Table 2: List of interviewees...........................................................................................48 Table 3: Comparison of companies' website and blogs (updated 13.6.2016).................66 Table 4: Measurement the effectiveness of social media of Eatech in May, 2016.........70
  • 9. viii LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS CPE Cost per engagement CPI Cost per impression CPL Cost per lead CPR Cost per referral EVP Employee Value Proposition / Employer Value Proposition EBEP Employer Brand Employee Platform EBSP Employer Brand Strategic Platform KPIs Key Performance Indicators
  • 10. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 1 1 INTRODUCTION “The war for talent is over, and the talent won.” – Josh Bersin (Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends, 2014). The wave of technological advancements, revolutionizing structure in the operation of corporations and competitive pressures have affected noticeably the relationship between employer and employee in the 21st century (Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends, 2014). With these changes, companies strive to deliver unique organizational culture and brand identity which are considered to bring significant competitive advantages for the organization (Figurska & Matuska, 2013; Mosley, 2014). The competitive advantages are characterised by motivation, loyalty, and performance of employees. A strong brand identity not only generates employee pride, advocacy, and commitment leading to productivity and innovation increase, but also attracts potential talent from outside (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). This advantage is gained through a proper strategy, called employer brand management (Mosley, 2014). Employer brand is referred to as the bridge between the human resources management and marketing (Ambler & Barrow, 1996, Lalwani & Parmar, 2012; Figurska & Matuska, 2013). Likewise, the company brand which is used to earn customer trust and retention, employer brand impacts human resources and organizations to gain attraction from talent recruitment in the labour market and employees’ loyalty and commitment (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009). In terms of benefits of a well-recognised brand, the companies have competitive advantages to compete in the employment market with the lower cost of recruitment, salary advantage and the number of qualified candidates. Moreover, employee advocacy also helps to cut advertising and recruitment costs through employee loyalty (Mosley, 2014). More and more companies are increasingly using social media channels to expand the talent pool and recruit viable candidates for their companies. Based on a survey conducted by the Employer Brand International in 2014 across 18 countries, 76 percent of employers utilise social media as the main communication channel to recruit and search for potential talent and 58 percent utilise it to strengthen their employer brands (Minchington, 2014). CareerBuilder also indicated that companies that do not exploit social media as a recruitment tool might not reach the large talent pool and lose quality candidates to their
  • 11. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 2 competitors. This statement can be associated with the fact that, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network on the Internet, has 500 million registered members with an average of 100 million active users per month (LinkedIn, 2015), and Facebook with about 1,55 billion monthly active users (Facebook, 2015). These statistics of the popularity of social media indicate the enormous influence of its application. Talent acquisition and access is the fourth most urgent issue for companies in the changing wave of globalization, technology and workforce expectations. Deloitte report (Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends in 2014), shows that “Tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and others are changing recruiting into a strategic function focused on marketing, branding, and new tools and technologies.” In the digital world, it is all about the network, or more precisely, the social network (Helen, 2009). The effective communications in communities does say as much about the brand as other tools. Research about the employer brand revealed that the candidates see an employer’s website as a good way to judge how they will be treated by the company, such as the integrity and character of management in the company (Helen, 2009). To date, there are many researches concentrated on social media changes and their impact on the product branding. These research papers often discuss the development of a product brand affecting consumer behaviour on social media, e.g. the impact of user interactions with social media on brand awareness and purchase intention. For more information, please see, the case of MINI on Facebook (Hutter et al., 2013), and the impact of social networks on the development of a personal sports brand (Green, 2016). However, there has been little research on the possibilities and potentials that social media bring to employer brand management in relation to recruitment and marketing. Given the above specified intentions, this thesis investigates and explores the use of social media platform in managing employer branding. The aim is to provide a comprehensive understanding of how social media can be utilised both internally and externally within companies to manage the employer branding better. The results of this research provide insights and new knowledge on how to increase the engagement of targeted audience in the potential talent pool and retention of high-quality employees. At a more practical level, this thesis aims to provide explicit knowledge with regards to the relationship between social media and employer brand management.
  • 12. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 3 In the following subsections, we will explore the research background and motivation, followed by the formulation of research objectives and research questions and discussion on the research theoretical framework. 1.1 Background and research motivation In the current knowledge economy, human resources are one of the most valuable assets of a company (Gabcanova, 2011). Companies are now more dependent on their employees’ competencies and performances. Thus, the attraction and retention of high- quality talent have become of great importance. One of the forms of ‘the war for talent’ is building a strong employer brand (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). A company which has a strong employer brand with attractive brand values and career prospects will be considered as an employer of choice (Ambler & Barrow, 1996, Universum, 2014). In a highly competitive job market, employer branding is a critical approach for attracting and retaining talent (Corporate Leadership Council, 1999). Nowadays, the employer brand generates both values and influences (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). A strong employer brand will help a company to recruit highly-profiled and skilled employees in the labour market. In reverse, employees will be influenced by the organizational behaviour in order to build loyalty and trust toward the employer brand. Social media have increasingly been recognised as a phenomenon in online communication and marketing world (Kärkkäinen et al., 2010). It is like the brand of modern communication and socialisation. For example, Facebook and Twitter are used as a network to socialise, WordPress and Tumblr are meant for sharing. In terms of photo and video sharing, Instagram and YouTube are the most well-known channel. Not listed as social media, Wikipedia is always seen as an effective tool for sharing knowledge since the rise of the popularity of Web 2.0. Social media have not only changed the way people practice socialising, sharing and cooperating, but also has impacted the way organizations operate and promote their businesses dramatically (Jue et al., 2010). Since, all the borders were removed due to the invention of the Internet and social media, the flow of information is spread worldwide in a matter of few seconds. Moreover, the complexity and competitiveness of the business environment have been escalated due to the invention of the Internet. One positive post or video can easily go viral and reach a million of people,
  • 13. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 4 the same applies to negative ones. Thus, the business environment is now exposed to a great opportunity and a tough challenging environment to manage (Jue et al., 2010). Marketing in social media is one of the key activities to improve a company’s brand. From customers’ standpoint, branding is considered as the popularity of a company’s image to increase the sales. However, it is equally important that employers to maintain the corporation’s reputation in the industry. The reputation of an employer helps to attract employees with outstanding skills and knowledge. The skilful labour force comprises a primary source of competitive advantage for organizations. Social media have been used and utilised as strategic tools in human resources management and marketing in order to access a larger talent pool in the labour market with cost effectiveness in the long-term perspective (Barrow & Mosley, 2005; Mosley, 2014). In the Employer Brand International survey (Employer Brand Global Trends Study, 2014), social media were the most popular communication channels used during 2014. Moreover, the report indicates that, the global trend of using social media in employer brand communication has also increased noticeably within the last five years from (14%) in 2009 to (76%) in 2014, see Figure 1. Figure 1: The main tools used in communicating employer brand during 2014 (Minchington, 2014)
  • 14. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 5 Employer branding emerged as an alignment between marketing and human resources management (Ambler & Barrow, 1996; Barrow & Mosley, 2005; Figurska & Matuska, 2013). Employer branding includes communication activities to both external and internal audiences and it is regarded as organization’s value propositions. These value propositions would make an organization distinctive among its competitors. Employer attractiveness is seen as future opportunities and benefits that potential employees expect to receive when working for an organization (e.g. professional development, leadership, working environment, corporate reputation and culture, reward and recognition, and work-life balance) (Minchington, 2014). The survey of the Employer Brand International showed that the vital role of defined Employee Value Proposition (EVP) of an organization in enhancing the employer brand activities along with social media participations (see Figure 2). The research combines employer branding and social media, which will be valuable to employers in improving their recruitment processes, corporation reputation and brand visibility in the industry. Figure 2: Most effective activities in enhancing employer brand during 2014 (Minchington, 2014) The impact of social media in marketing and branding is unquestionable. However, measuring its outcome, including marketing measurement, branding measurement and performance measurement of an organization, remains ambiguous. There is not a standard
  • 15. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 6 model that can be applied for all measurements. Each organization must define and build their own indicators consistent with their needs and goals. However, many companies have not defined a set of metrics to track and monitor progress. Evaluating the progress is critical element for the success of an organization toward their specific goals and the measurement of the return on investment. For example, in the employer branding area, as stated in the study of The Employer Brand International 2014 and Universum, a set of metrics often used in the organizations, some of these metrics are:  Employee engagement and brand advocacy (Facebook and LinkedIn interaction increase)  Marketing effectiveness and efficiency (cost of marketing activities in each social media platform vs. like/followers increase)  Quantity and quality of applicant increase  Conversion rate  Hiring cost reduction  Etc. Additionally, with technological advancement and analytical tools, it is feasible to statistically analyse and assess information on a social media platform for measuring the effectiveness of the investment regarding the metrics, e.g. track media interactions, conversion rate, and estimate the cost of hire in paid media investment. Nevertheless, social media are merely supporting tools in promoting the employer brand. The central position which directly impacts the overall perception of a brand of an organization are employees. The employees’ perceptions are affected by both the product brand and the employer brand (Barrow & Mosley, 2014). They play a central role in creating values that will bring positive influences to external audiences, e.g. attract more prospective candidates together with human resource management. Given the above specified reasons, this thesis aims to assess the relation between social media and employer brand management. In other words, it investigates the role of social media in enhancing the employer brand. The following subchapters provide more details.
  • 16. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 7 1.2 Research objectives and research questions The first step in any research is to formulate the problem statement. It decides the whole strategy to expedite the research, involving the research evidence and the methodology (Cooper, 2010). Employer branding management is an emerging topic, which gains a lot of concerns from small and medium sized companies in the highly competitive labour market, e.g. in the IT industry (Sivertzen et al., 2013). The employer branding management concept is related to several different notions such as organizational reputation, image, and brand equity. The fundamental notion of employer branding is a strong organizational culture by constructing an appropriate set of employee value propositions. Along with the increasing popularity of social media in marketing and branding, measuring the effectiveness of these tools is becoming an inevitable part of the employer branding management. The internal and external marketing for employer branding need to be consistent. However, companies do not concentrate on defining a clear EVP which could be used to strengthen the working culture for the current employees and to increase the attractiveness for the potential ones. The necessity for frequent measurement of the performance of social media has so far been neglected by many practitioners of the companies. The core theoretical objectives of this thesis are (1) to explore the value proposition that employers offer to their current employees, and (2) to measure the effectiveness of social media platforms used for the employer branding management in the context of medium- sized technological firms in Finland. The thesis will explain the process of employer brand enhancement on social media by analysing the case study, Eatech Oy. Eatech Oy is a Finnish agile software company established in 2006. By the end of 2015, the company had 52 employees and earned more than 4 million euros in revenue (Eatech.fi, Kauppalehti.fi, 2015). The company provides an assortment of customer- specific software solutions including system, application, and user interface development for mobile, web and devices integrations, and continuous services. The company serves a wide range of customers from different industries, such as trade, logistics, oil industry, and ICT sector.
  • 17. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 8 The author aims to achieve the research goals and objectives through several approaches, including communicating with and interviewing the professionals of the case company, analysing the experiences of marketing endeavours, and investigating the recruitment activities on different social media platforms. To this end, with the research background and objectives described above, two research questions are formulated as follows: Research question 1: What is the core employee value proposition (EVP) that can be used to increase the employer’s attractiveness and differentiate it from its competitors? The first question concerns the company’s internal view, understanding the reality of strengths and weaknesses that the company possesses in employer branding management. Based on that, this study tries to identify the attributes of employer attractiveness. This study strives to find out the values that current employees expect from their employer, Moreover, we aim to understand and identify the value propositions that the company can deliver to the current and potential talent. It is often regarded that the value propositions of a company shape their reputation for branding activities. Besides, it is important to learn about the trend of outside audiences, and the expectations of targeted talent. Moreover, in order to obtain the comprehensive picture, it is necessary to benchmark with their competitors. Research question 2: What is the role of social media in enhancing the employer brand? What are the available tool(s) that could help a company to improve its employer brand on social media? The second question deals with the measurement of the social media in marketing the employer brand. Potential sub-questions include: [1] How can a company utilise social media in managing its employer brand and recruiting activities? [2] How can a company measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing and recruitment activities performance on social media? For the sub-question 2, this thesis will define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and exploit the data from different social media platforms as a tool to measure the marketing
  • 18. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 9 activities, branding, and performance regarding the employer branding. It will focus particularly on recruitment to help building an effective and efficient strategy later. 1.3 Thesis structure The thesis consists of seven chapters, outlined as follows: Chapter 1: Introduction The first chapter introduces the overall view of the employer brand and social media in the current labour market as a background and a motivation of the thesis. The research objectives and questions are outlined in this chapter. Chapter 2: Literature review The literature review provides fundamental theoretical frameworks of the relevant concepts discussed in the thesis, such as the employer brand and social media use in the employer brand. This chapter serves as the basis for the empirical analysis. Chapter 3: Methodology This chapter describes the details of the method used in the research and the reasoning for the choice of method. Moreover, it explains the data collection approach and data analysis for the research. Chapter 4: Case study A brief introduction of the case company is given in this chapter. This thesis aims to achieve an insight into the case company regarding the employer brand. Hence, the usage of social media in developing the employer brand will be studied, too. Chapter 5: Results Based on the theoretical basis of chapter two, this chapter provides the findings from the interviews with the employees and the employer of the case company. This chapter also shows the result of data analysis towards the use of social media. The analysis is based on the defined KPIs. The results are obtained by measuring the effectiveness of the social
  • 19. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 10 media tools in the case company’s marketing activities and in comparison with their competitors. Chapter 6: Discussion This chapter includes discussion of the outcomes of the thesis by answering the research questions about two main issues: the EVP and the use of social media in employer branding. The discussion of the trustworthiness (i.e. verification, validation and relevance) of the thesis will also be elaborated. Chapter 7: Conclusions A summary of the thesis is provided in this chapter. A brief conclusion of the answers to the research questions is included. Additionally, the practical implications of the thesis results and its effect on the case company are mentioned. Lastly, this chapter points out the limitations of the thesis.
  • 20. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 11 2 LITERATURE REVIEW This thesis utilises a medium-sized technological firm (Eatech Oy) in Finland as a case study. The aim is to gain deep insights into how the firm under investigation, by making use of social media, builds their employer brand both internally and externally. The literature review in this section will be provided into two subchapters based on the formulated research questions in Chapter 1. Therefore, the literature review contains several related concepts, including the employer brand, corporate reputation management, and recruitment communication. It also covers relevant theories supporting the social media application in the employer brand management and the measurement methods. 2.1 Employer brand This subchapter covers the overall definition of the employer brand and the corporate reputation. 2.1.1 Definition The employer brand commonly is represented by visual designs, such as a brand logo, a slogan, and other elements to identify the brand (Mosley, 2014). However, Ambler and Barrow (1996) are the first well-known scholars who defined the employer brand concept in a different view. They defined that the employer brand is a reputation of an organization or an employer. Afterwards, Figurska and Matuska (2013) and Mosley (2014) also agreed with the prior studies and perceived the employer brand in a broader view and argued that the employer brand is a complex concept comprising different tangible and intangible factors, and long-term values. It is the identity, brand experience and reputation, and the ability to differentiate organizations from the competitors in the industry. These factors include attractiveness of the field, company’s reputation, quality of products and service, work environment, employees’ salary and economic benefits, people and culture, work-life balance and corporate social responsibility (Figurska & Matuska, 2013; Minchington, 2014). To this end, there are several different definitions of the employer brand with diverse perspectives. The UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) guide
  • 21. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 12 (Walker and Platt-Higgins, 2009) and Mosley (2014) described the employer brand as “a set of attributes and qualities – often intangible – that makes an organization distinctive, promises a particular kind of employment experience, and appeals to those people who will thrive and perform to their best in its culture”. The employer brand is also viewed as a personal brand with its personality. The employer brand personality comprises credibility, uniqueness, reliability, and durability seen by stakeholders’ point of view (the current employees and the potential employees in this context) (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). The brand-as-person is helpful to understand the relationship between employers and the employees (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). In some other definitions, the employer brand is considered similarly to the conventional product brand offering to consumers. However, it is defined in an employment context that involves functional (developmental activities), economic (material or monetary rewards) and psychological benefits (feeling belonging, direction and purpose) provided from employers to employees (Ambler & Barrow, 1996; Edwards, 2010; Figurska & Matuska. 2013). The employer brand is seen as the combination of human resources and the normal product brand marketing (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). Affinity is a key driver of the employer brand concept, which relates to the psychological engagement. For example, trust is the principle of the customer relationship in the consuming market. It is also a critical component for an organization building their relationship with employees. Psychological engagement, in the context of an employee, consists of the employees’ loyalty, engagement, and advocacy (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009). Therefore, a well- managed employer brand can potentially affect employees’ desire to work and retain in an organization. While the product and the company brands are used for the external audiences in the consuming market, the employer brand targets both the internal and the external audiences in the labour market (Ambler & Barrow, 1996; Mosley, 2014; Figurska & Matuska, 2013) as described in Figure 3. Depending on the strategy of a company and the stage of their brand development process, these two divisions are emphasised concurrently or separately (Figurska & Matuska. 2013).
  • 22. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 13 Figure 3: Employer brand division (Figurska & Matuska, 2013) The concepts of corporate culture and identity, internal marketing and corporate reputation share the recognition of intangible assets for building the relationship between the organization and its employees, and between the employer and its identity to the external stakeholders. Ambler and Barrow (1996) speculated whether the employer brand concept exists or whether it is a synthesis of these concepts. These concepts may overlap somewhat with each other, but they are also different from each other. The organizational identity is particularly relevant to the employer brand concept, as it represents a distinctive characteristic of an organization (Backhaus & Tikoo 2004; Edwards, 2010). Organizational identity represents an overall image of an organization as a unique characteristic in the employer brand perspective (Edwards, 2010). The Nigel Wright Recruitment (2008) considered the organizational identity as “the degree to which a member defines him/herself by the same attributes that he/she believes define the organization”. In other words, when employees believe and share the same attributes of Employer brand Internal brand Target: current employees Goal: promoting internal brand drives retention, engagement, loyalty, prductivity and corporate culture External brand Target: potential talent and other stakeholders Goal: promoting the external brand drives attraction and affinity of targeted audiences, enhance recruitment projects of potential talent.
  • 23. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 14 an organization, they become self-defining. We argue that an employee is part of and plays an important role in defining an organizational identity. Sullivan (2004) argues that a culture of sharing and continuous development is a foundation of a good employer brand. Executive management of the company should actively communicate, encourage, evaluate and reward employees’ efforts of development, and share the best practices within the company (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). Hence, employer branding activities reinforce the organizational culture. The organizational culture is an essential factor to applicants while considering a workplace of choice (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004). The organizational culture is seen as a supporting value to the organizational strategy to create an organizational identity (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). While the employer brand mainly targets the current and the potential employees, corporate reputation considers how an organization is perceived by the external audiences (Edwards, 2010). The author found that, to apply for a job, the potential applicants are more likely to consider an organization that has a positive corporate reputation. Corporate reputation is one of the positive predictors from the job seekers’ viewpoints besides the organization familiarity. In other words, the stronger the reputation is, the more attractive it is to potential applicants. Internal marketing by some definitions is understood as the internal branding. This term will be explained in more detail later in this chapter. Owing to the constant change of the nature of business, the concepts of the corporate brand or the corporate reputation are much more developed and complex than before. Nonetheless, Ambler and Barrow (1996) affirmed that corporate reputation is developed based on the fundamental of “the observation and assessment of consistent behaviour over time”. It adds value to an organization and its product. Thus, it sustains the business. Therefore, three key components define a corporate reputation; these are competence, consistency and integrity (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). Furthermore, Foster et al. (2010) stated that corporate reputation is promises made between an organization and its stakeholders, including both the external and the internal stakeholders. When the organization is competent to deliver what they promise to their customers and their employees consistently over time, we can expect them to have a corporate reputation.
  • 24. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 15 2.1.2 Employer brand objectives The employer brand is meant for creating “the image of your organization as a great place to work” (Minchington, 2006). It is used to develop a positive image of an organization as an “employer of choice”. It helps to keep current employees stay in the organization and to attract potential talent in the labour market (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). To practice the employer brand, an organization considers both costs and benefits of the investments. A good strategy and proper implementation of the employer brand which lead to a well-recognised brand is beneficial to cost. A strong employer brand will leverage the levels of talent attraction and employee engagement, which contribute directly to better financial results (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). However, the key fundamental objective that any company seeks to achieve is the differentiation in a highly competitive labour market in the long term (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012; Figurska & Matuska, 2013; Mosley, 2014). Employer branding development is a process to identify what attributes make a company’s employees’ experience different in their workplaces from others so that they would be proud and recommend it as a great place to work. The process must build upon accuracy and an honest reflection of the internal reality of the organization, giving a positive influence and commitment to their employees (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009). In other words, the organization must clarify the essence of what value propositions they offer as an employer, and how their employees feel and experience the workplace in reality. If they could manage, it helps create distinctive values that characterise an organization as ‘a brand’ (Edwards, 2010). The distinctive organizational values that are unique specify an organization’s characteristics, highlighted by employment’s offerings or working environment. For instance, employees are benefited by well-designed and consistent policies, including attractive salary packages, recognition and rewards, proper work-life balance, democracy and equality, career development, and leadership opportunity. These values could be the organizational assets, a prerequisite that contributes to the competitive advantage sustainably in the labour market (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004; Lalwani & Parmar, 2012; Figurska & Matuska. 2013; Sivertzen, et al., 2013). One argument of Edwards (2010) about employment experience creation is that it is an interactive issue. Employment offering advertised in employer branding activities helps to shape the employee expectations of the organizational obligations and, accordingly, the expectation will turn into a positive (or a negative) experience when the offering is (or is not) delivered. On the other hand, the
  • 25. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 16 organization’s expectation of employees’ duties will contribute to the creation of distinctive attributes in the employment experience for the employer branding. Therefore, the expectation will form the basis of the employment experience which influences the employer branding activities as a ‘psychological contract’ binding between an employer and an employee. As discussed, an employee’s experience can relate to the economic aspects which apparently vary between the organizations (Ambler & Barrow, 1996; Figurska & Matuska, 2013; Edwards, 2010). However, the objective is not only to provide employees with tangible benefits, but also to grow the emotional connection with the organization (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). Employment experience also involves intangible attributes such as socio-emotional needs (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009; Mosley, 2014). A career nowadays holds more value to an individual than a means to pay the bills. Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations of Google stated that, “people do not stay for the money” (Goudreau, 2015). He also claimed that there is a positive correlation between the meaningfulness of a job to employees and their productivity. Therefore, we argue that the distinctive values are closely associated with the personal professional development (functional benefit) and the given sense of purpose of a job (psychological benefit) that will improve the experience and increase the employee engagement to their employer. In other words, the stronger employer brand that the employees and job seekers perceive, the more they feel a sense of pride for the organization they work for or in which they intend to pursue their career, as it “adds value to a job beyond a job itself” (Edwards, 2010). Moreover, Ambler and Barrow (1996) denoted that the improvement in the employee motivation leads to an increase in the employee performance. In turn, it leads to the improvement of customer relationships, since “there is established a connection between the employee’s satisfaction and the customer’s satisfaction” (Figurska & Matuska. 2013). In other words, the employee performance is an important driver of the consumer brand, which contributes to the corporate brand. Hence, altogether they fortify the brand equity to achieve the virtuous circle in an organization. In addition, with the increasing competition for finding the talented employees, the recruitment process has evolved and has become much more sophisticated. The application of the employer brand in recruitment is now a part of the process of conveying the organization’s vision and mission to their employees and potential candidates and
  • 26. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 17 communicating the organizational brand so that they can understand and share the same values. Recruitment communication contributes to the comprehensive organizational culture (Rosethorn & Group, 2009; Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). Nonetheless, the communication process should be holistic and honest. An overly positive image of the organization in promotional materials exposed to potential applicants might influence their perception and expectation toward the company culture. An unrealistic perception provided to the employees by giving a disguised image of the organization might lead to the higher possibility of resigning employees. It also raises questions of commitment of the organization to external stakeholders (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004; Edwards, 2010). Additionally, transparency is an essential factor influencing the employer branding communication of organizations (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). The image and the reputation of an organization can be easily spread to a larger audience through social media channels. They could either be positive or negative in employees’ opinions (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). Therefore, the information communication, both internally and externally, should be honest and trustworthy. The aim of the employer brand development is to deliver an organization’s image which cares about the employees’ interest and focuses on their professional development (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). The employer brand is delivered to both internal and external audiences based on the set of offering and promises to the current and the potential talent. Since satisfying current employees and retaining talent are critical to the organization as an employer, these promises should meet the expectations of what the employees seek for in the first place (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009). When an organization’s expectations and commitments are articulated, the organization will gain the reputation for sustaining internal values and become a highly recognised brand externally (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). Furthermore, the investment in recruiting, training and developing talent can only be returned when they remain long enough in the organization to make the reimbursement (Ambler & Barrow, 1996). The improvement of the company in recruitment, measured by the quality and quantity of applications, makes it attractive and recognised conspicuously to talented candidates by giving a clear picture of distinctive values obtained from the workplace. The distinctive values obtained are aligned between the expectation of the purpose of work for a particular organization, what it offers and demands, and the actual experience on a day-to-day basis through the application process, joining and beyond (Edwards, 2010, Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009).
  • 27. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 18 2.1.3 Employer branding Every organization has an employer brand regardless if they want it or not. The employer brand can be of positive or negative impacts, depending on how the organization perceives it. The issue of employer branding has gradually become the key to the competitive success of an organization, also as a basis of sustainability of corporate reputation (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). Due to the importance of the employer brand role in the highly competitive employment market, employer branding is a long-term effort for the organization to build a unique identity of the employer brand. The unique identity can be achieved by developing the awareness and perceptions of employees and potential talent toward a particular organization (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004; Figurska & Matuska, 2013). Building the employer brand is a shared mission across different departments of the company (Edwards, 2010). The survey of Employer Brand International (Minchington, 2014) revealed that the responsibility for the employer branding actions is becoming more fragmented, concerning human resources department (37%), executive management side (18%) and marketing department (14%). Especially, about 46 percent of the respondents emphasised that the responsibility of branding activities is a managerial issue. Backhaus and Tikoo (2004) presented a conceptual framework of employer branding, illustrated in Figure 4 below. Figure 4: Employer branding concept (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004) This conceptual framework relates to the concept of corporate image and reputation discussed by Ambler and Barrow (1996), where major factors are presented, employer’s
  • 28. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 19 images, organization’s reputation, and organization culture. Correspondingly, the framework of Backhaus and Tikoo (2004) also introduced two key factors: brand associations and brand loyalty. The brand associations are determinants of the brand image, which enhance the process of value-matching between talent and organizations. In other words, the employer brand associations set the employer image, which involves the attraction to potential talent outside the organization. Therefore, the employer image has a correlative effect on the attractiveness of the employer. The employer brand loyalty refers to the motivation of the current employees to turn into the employee productivity and retention. The employer brand loyalty is likely to be understood as a consumer brand represented by the trust. The trust is built between the employer brand’s promises and the employee loyalty. It is the organization’s commitment to their employees and vice versa that builds the trust. By delivering the promises and satisfying employees’ expectations, the employers achieve the employee loyalty. Furthermore, the organizational commitment is tied to the organizational culture, which relates to the organizational behaviour and the employees’ behaviour. The framework specifies that employer branding requires the consistency and the interaction of internal and external marketing of an organization. In other words, this conceptual framework suggests the collaboration of human resources and marketing strategies to achieve the employer branding management successfully. In accordance with the framework process, the employer branding management begins with establishing the organization’s values to fortify the organizational culture and the organization identity. This leads to the necessity of defining the employee value proposition. Edwards (2010) specified that employer branding is “an activity where principles of marketing are applied to HR activities in relation to the current and the potential employees”. Employer branding is also identified as a process of applying ‘science of branding’ at a higher level of determining policies and practices in human resource activities, such as recruitment, coordination and talent management regarding current talented employees and potential ones (Rosethorn & Group, 2009; Edwards, 2010; Mosley, 2014). Since the concept of employer branding is the combination of marketing and human resources area, Backhaus and Tikoo (2004) divided its scope into two key parts: internal branding and external branding (Figure 5). Due to the differences between
  • 29. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 20 target segment and approach in each activity, the internal and external branding will be either on the side of human resources or the marketing sphere. Figure 5: Employer branding scope (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004) 2.1.3.1 Internal branding Internal branding concerns current and potential employees their expectations and the employment experiences (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). By strategically communicating and conveying the employer brand’s value and goal to the audiences, an organization will be enabled to share and achieve the distinctive characteristics (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004). This process is mainly in the hand of the human resources department of an organization as they bring many benefits directly to the organization human resources department (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). These benefits of effective internal branding may include increasing employee engagement, boosting the level of the trust and loyalty of the organization, avoiding talent shortage and brainwash, and maintaining employees’ retention rate in the organization. Moreover, building a good relationship with current and former employees can directly strengthen the employer brand. Lastly, an effective internal branding will elevate the overall performance of the employees. Thus, a successful internal branding will become a strategic tool to strengthen the organization’s competitive advantage in the labour market. Nonetheless, the competitive advantage is sustainable only if the brand is continued and consistent, because the internal brand helps to reinforce the quality of the employment and to enrich the experience, and thereby, the employees want to stay with an organization (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004). Internal branding External branding Employer branding
  • 30. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 21 2.1.3.2 External branding Employer branding particularly emphasises the external communication which enables increasing the awareness of an organization’s reputation and its attraction to the best possible talent (Edwards, 2010). External branding activities are performed by using the external sources, which might require some monetary investment or other forms of investments (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). The successful performance of an organization is seen as a positive effect on the overall employer brand perception of that organization to external audiences (Edwards, 2010). The impact of employer brand perception to external audiences can be shown in the increasing number of applicants for a job advertisement, better quality of candidates, faster and easier access to the talent pool, and lower recruitment costs (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). The stronger the employer brand is, the lower the cost is that the organization must invest in recruitment. For instance, the organization that has a strong employer brand does not have to pay for recruitment agencies and other conventional marketing channels, because talent usually keeps browsing the job openings announcement on the company’s website or social media channels to seize new opportunities. Turban and Greening (1996) show that organizations tend to be more attractive to applicants when they show more social responsibility, such as community activities, employee relations, environmental policies, and product quality (Edwards, 2010). For instance, an organization can sponsor events at the universities and social communities to create more visibility and have more positive effects on the potential talent and other stakeholders. Hence, it is critical to provide information on employer branding beyond the organization success in order to bring the most impact. Moreover, Turban & Greening (1996) also found that employer branding communication requires a long-term effort in order to create the perception of the organization’s reputation and the familiarity to external audiences and potential applicants (Edwards, 2010). One effective approach for external branding is earning the public’s recognition (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). When an organization is recognised, for example, being listed in a great-place-to-work or best employer list from trustworthy organizations internationally and locally, it presents a higher impact of the organization’s employer brand on the external targets. Additionally, the company will become a benchmarking company, which sets standards and best practices for the others to follow and emulate.
  • 31. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 22 More importantly, the organization also set themselves in a differentiated position in the employment market. Successful internal branding can also be a booster of the external marketing activities. For example, employees proudly share their stories about the workplace, which will lead to an increase of applicant quantity for open positions via employee referrals. 2.1.4 Employer branding framework We acknowledge that employer branding is a long-term development process. Walker and Platt-Higgins (2009) illustrate the process in four stages, see Figure 6. Figure 6: Employer brand development and communication (Walker & Platt-Higgins, 2009) The process of building the employer brand follows the stages below: 1. Discovery: the first stage is to persuade the top management to understand what the employer brand definition and current trends are. This stage makes them realise the vital role of the employer brand for the organization’s employees and the external talent market. This stage requires an intensive effort from the top management to expedite upon their perceivability. The necessary actions involved in this stage are measuring the current overall performance and applying baseline metrics, for example, conducting an employee survey, building rapport with the marketing, public relation and human resources department, defining the external partners and assessing the talent pool approach. The organization is assumed to realise the characteristics of the current employer brand, how it is perceived by the top management, current employees, potential candidates and other target groups. 2. Analysis, interpretation and creation: this is a critical stage for the process and it is the link between the planning and the action. The organization starts to see a clear picture of the organization’s vision of employer branding by developing a plan and allocating resources to execute the plan. The vision describes distinctive values, how the organization would like to be seen as an employer, and what values and experiences the organization wants to offer to their current and potential employees. Discovery Analysis, interpretation and creation Implementation and communication Measurement, maintenance and optimisation
  • 32. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 23 By defining brand attributes, especially Employee Value Proposition (EVP), the organization can associate each attribute and behaviour to the target audience segment which initiates the expression of the brand. This stage helps to understand the organization thoroughly and to create the employer brand. 3. Implementation and communication: involve the external and internal marketing activities. The implementation step is, in fact, to fill the gap between the two previous stages, the present brand reality and the vision or the desired employer brand. External marketing communicates the message and the image to the labour market, to the potential candidates, recruitment agencies and other target groups to make the organization become an employer of choice. The next step is applying the brand created in the previous stages comprehensively to the material application information, including websites, social media channels, and interview process. The promotional material must ensure the authenticity of values that the organization promises to offer, so that the candidates will experience the full alignment of what they have been expecting and what they have been provided. Simultaneously happening to the external focus, the organization also launches the brand internally. Internal branding aims to develop human resources, which adheres to the values and objectives set by the organization. Human resources also ensure that the current employees can recognise the values and believe in them. Current employees are the best representatives of the employer brand to transfer values to the external audiences, possibly on online channels. 4. Measurement, maintenance and optimisation: the organization needs to monitor undertaken projects by conducting qualitative research both externally and internally regarding the new brand. The organization must be able to measure improvements based on the original baseline metrics set in the first stage, such as recruitment and retention metrics. Branding metrics are essential components for the executive management in the assessment process as well as for the improvement. The branding metrics should be well defined and aligned with the organization’s objectives and all other business functions. This step helps to control the results and to have a clear view whether the vision and all the values of the employer brand are truly delivered to the target stakeholders. Besides, it is essential to keep track of the process to optimise the plan, if needed.
  • 33. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 24 Nowadays, attracting the best competent people and retaining them have become two of the most important concerns of any organization due to the increasing competition for talents. Recruitment has changed into a much more sophisticated process. Therefore, employer branding has become a goal and a tool used to support the recruitment process of an organization. A strong brand is established based on an in-depth understanding of the connection between the brand and its audience. How do current employees and potential ones comprehend the organization’s objectives and values? Employer branding is no longer just a visual image. It is all about “Employee Value Proposition” or EVP (Barrow & Mosley, 2005; Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). Employer Brand International claims that EVP is considered as a core element in the employer brand framework (Minchington, 2014), Figure 7 shows this trend. Figure 7: Employer brand framework according to the Employer Brand International (Minchington, 2014) Employee Value Proposition is a unique value proposition that an individual receives through an employment relationship with a particular employer. Two critical factors of building the EVP are continuity and consistency (Barrow & Mosley, 2005). If these value propositions are delivered as promised, the positive reputation of an organization as a workplace is strengthened (Lalwani & Parmar, 2012). Defining EVP helps an organization to differentiate their employment activities from other competing organizations (Edwards, 2010). Nevertheless, the consistency and continuity are extended to a certain degree due to the change of people’s needs, aspirations and the organization’s
  • 34. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 25 situation over time. Hence, to maintain the competitiveness in the market, the organization should try to develop and offer appealing EVPs to meet the trend (Barrow & Mosley, 2005). Besides, the employer brand strategic platform including organizational values, vision, corporate reputation and culture, characteristics of the employer, and other attributes also facilitate to clarify the EVP of an organization (Minchington, 2014; Edwards, 2010). The employer brand strategic platform is utilised to craft and manage the employer brand strategy and to support EVP delivery. The employer brand employee platform (EBEP) involves different activities of employer branding (recruitment and induction, employee recognition programme, human resources services communications, mentor programme, and employee survey) that bring people together, unite the current staff and the external stakeholders. Moreover, it also attracts the most suitable talent who will thrive in the organizational culture. Through various programmes from the human resources department, the employer brand employee platform enables employees not to be just passive observers to employer brand representatives. In fact, the employer brand employee platform is the link that connects the core layer of the EVP and the employer brand strategic platform layer. In other words, it fills the gap between the organization’s values and objectives and the values received by an individual (the current employees and the potential employees) (Minchington, 2014). In the employer branding report of Nigel Wright Consultancy (Nigel Wright Recruitment, 2008) and the research of Berthon et al. (2005), there are five fundamental values in the employer brand building strategy. These values are associated with the EVP, the employer brand strategic platform (EBSP), and the employer brand employee platform (EBEP) of the Employer Brand International’s framework (Minchington, 2014) (Figure 7): 1. Development value: individuals are attracted to a workplace where they will be recognised and rewarded for what they contribute to the success of the organization. The development value can lead to the possibility of future career opportunities of the individual (Sivertzen et al., 2013). The employees are provided self-worth and confidence to enhance their career development. This key value is associated with two other values: interest value and application value.
  • 35. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 26 1.1 Interest value: the extent to which an individual is interested in a workplace, where he can share with others the same interest in working conditions, including work environment and work practices. The person is appealed by an employer that encourages employees to express their creativity into work practices in an exciting work environment. Creating the interest value will increase the potential candidates’ awareness of the company as an employer. 1.2 Application value: candidates see opportunities to apply and implement what they have learnt and experienced to innovate the production in the organization and their employment. Besides, this value also implies to what extent the company is customer-oriented (Sivertzen et al., 2013). The organization enables possibilities and makes it easy for employees to do their work and have freedom in their creativity. In other words, the company grants employee empowerment, through which they gain ownership and responsibility for their work. The innovative ideas are listened to and recognised so that it inspires them to develop and so that they are willing to stay longer in the organization. The top management should be active in listening and communicating with employees about their ideas and opinions as well as their expectations. The management can give them honest feedback, deliver expectations and goals from the organization’s point of view. Highly hierarchical management of the organization might be an obstacle to creating this value. 2. Economic value: this value is associated with the recognition and reward of the development value. Additionally, a candidate is attracted to an employer with a good salary and compensation package, job security, leadership and promotion opportunities. The salary and compensation package are sensitive factors but very critical to set the competitiveness of the company. It seems to be a material matter, but it is a psychological issue indeed when employees feel being fairly paid and feel self-worth for their contribution to the company. It also encourages them to develop their work and boost up their performance overall. 3. Social value: it is becoming more and more important in building employer brand because it refers to work environment and relations with other employees (Sivertzen et al., 2013). It increases the employee loyalty and trust that encourage
  • 36. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 27 a higher level of their retention. This value can include different elements, such as fun and a motivating work environment, supportive teamwork, employment commitment, work-life balance, democracy and equality, complying ethical standards, and organizational behaviour with society (Nigel Wright Recruitment, 2008). The social value that is created, may vary based on the types of organizations and the target stakeholders. Although all these five dimensions are crucial to indicate the attractiveness of an organization, the study of Sivertzen et al. (2013) suggested that employer branding should focus on non-monetary factors (e.g. compensation), particularly in the social media channels. In the study, the psychological values, innovation values, and application values relate directly to the corporate reputation which correlates with the intention to apply for a job. It is important to consider the organizational culture and other demographic (e.g. nationality, gender, and age) differences when building the EVP and the employer brand platforms (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). For example, women are more concerned with a good work-life balance and a pleasant working atmosphere, while men seek financial security and prospects of career development. Male employees are also attracted to the application of innovative technologies in their work and management. Moreover, different generations of employees will pursue different expectations and values. For instance, young employees aged 18-24 (Generation Y) are attracted to organizations that can offer good training and career opportunities to grow in future, those who are 25-44 (Generation X) are concerned about more about salary, work-life balance and flexible working hours, since their social roles change to parents. Finally, the Baby Boomers generation (above 45 years old) looks for employment security and finance stability. Particularly, social media and internet networking used in the job searching is relatively more popular among men than among women and the group with higher education. The notable rise of social media and the Internet has become a dominant factor in modern employer branding and has substantial impact on the organization’s image and reputation in the society (Figurska & Matuska, 2013). Hence, it is crucial to emphasise the role of a strategic approach in the whole employer branding process.
  • 37. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 28 Barrow and Mosley (2005) took Microsoft as a good example to see how this framework is applied in practice. Microsoft tailored the proposition differently to each target group to provide a unique employment experience. For technical area: “Make a difference – A career at Microsoft offers you the chance to be at the forefront of technological development, working with smart colleagues on meaningful projects. It is an opportunity to enjoy impact and ownership; your responsibilities have the potential to leave a lasting technological legacy.” Microsoft created the interest value and application value to technical candidates with modern technology and encouraging to apply innovation to their works in a very motivating work environment. Marketing EVP: “Your Impact Knows No Boundaries – There is a certain satisfaction in knowing that your strategic marketing ideas help connect technology to millions of people around the world. In a marketing career at Microsoft, the possibilities of making an impact are limitless.” The recruits in the marketing industry are often attracted by the opportunity to express their creativity and to make an impact globally. Microsoft has established clearly the development value in their EVP to target the marketing group. Human Resources EVP: “Fulfilment Is the Catalyst for Achievement – It is an important mission to bring the right people in and taking good care of them. It plays a critical role in helping Microsoft generate technology that positively affects the lives of millions of people around the world. This mission is also your opportunity to discover just how far your abilities, ideas, and skills can advance your career. In Human Resources at Microsoft, your big ideas matter and we want to see them take you far.” Besides the interest value offered to all their potential employees, they want to be an incentive to candidates’ self-worth and prospects in their career development.
  • 38. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 29 2.2 Social media In this subchapter, theories of social media will be presented. It will provide a definition of social media, their impact on employer brand management, social media insights, and measurement. 2.2.1 Social media definition Today, along with the technological advancement, social media enable us to communicate easily and to share information globally. Social media create a non-border world or so-called “virtual worlds”. They allow citizens of the world to freely choose how they want to live, and to behave in their virtual lives similarly as to how they behave in their real lives (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010; Kärkkäinen et al., 2010). Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) defined social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content”. This definition contains two interrelated concepts: Web 2.0 and User Generated Content. The term social media and Web 2.0 are often used interchangeably; however, social media are associated with the social aspects such as conversations, communities, and connections, while Web 2.0 is mainly related to online applications (Constantinides & Fountain, 2008). Web 2.0 allows creating content by interacting and collaborating with users or online communities around the World Wide Web (Berthon et al., 2012; Kaplan & Haenlein 2010). Additionally, it also enables users to communicate and share various information easily via communities, social networking sites and virtual worlds (Kärkkäinen et al., 2010). Because a set of functionalities of Web 2.0 allows users to update web content in a collaborative way without affecting the structure and behaviour of the whole page, Web 2.0 “delivers rich user experiences” (Berthon et al., 2012). Hence, Web 2.0 is considered as a foundation of the evolution of modern social media (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Another key component of social media is the User Generated Content (UGC), the media content in various forms and formats such as text, photos, and videos that are created by the end-users and are available publicly. The contents need to be effort for commercial purpose (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The UGC inspires users to participate and to contribute in creating value (Berthon et al., 2012). Hence, social media refer to “content distributed through social interactions” (Jones et al., 2015). In other words, Web 2.0 is
  • 39. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 30 the ideological and technological foundation of social media, while UGC is the way people make use of social media (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Similarly, Blackshaw (2006) defined social media as the Internet-based applications that carry consumer-generated media (CGM). The content in social media is “created by consumers, typically informed by relevant experience, and archived or shared online for easy access by other impressionable consumers” (Jones et al., 2015). Social media involve the participation of the online community in creating the content. It provides various platforms which can be utilised for different purposes and target different groups of users with their functionalities (Jue et al., 2010). For instance, for enhancing employee engagement and advocacy, social media are known as “the various tools available to help accelerate and improve our ability to connect, communicate and collaborate with others” (Jue et al., 2010). 2.2.1.1 Characteristics of the social media Based on research conducted by Mislove et al. (2007) and Dube (2009), five key characteristics of social media including user-based, interactive, communitive-driven, relationship and emotion over content have been clarified. However, though there are various theories of social media, they all share similar principles of the social media characteristics which are users’ interaction and exchanging information on social media. The key element settings are:  Community-driven: the fundamental element of social media. Similarly, to the principle of the social network in the real environment, it is the formulation of communities or social groups by users who share commonalities such as beliefs, hobbies, and schools.  User-based content: the contents are generated and shared by users. The flow of information is updated via users’ interaction, such as conversations and comments on social media. Anyone can participate in discussing the direction of the content which makes social media much more dynamic and entertaining.  Relationship management: the networks or contacts that users or companies build on social media platforms. The more relationships that a user has in the social media network, the more influential the position of the user in the network is.
  • 40. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 31  Identity and reputation: indicate to which extent the users reveal their personal information to identify themselves in the social media setting.  Interaction: social media offer a new way to connect, exchange information and enable public discussion more easily compared to forums and chatrooms. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, allow users to share ideas, opinions, and photos with their networks, and play games together with friends. 2.2.1.2 Social media classification Every day new platforms are developed, and only few of them become popular worldwide with billions of users around the globe (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). It is impractical and unfeasible to list all the social media channels. Moreover, most other studies focus on social media channels, and the general opportunities and challenges of social media. Since this thesis aims to investigate the current most popular channels (blogs and social networking sites) to be used in the empirical research part, a common classification of the social media channels and tools are presented in this section. Particularly, it is crucial to understand each of the social media tools in order to utilise its usage in companies (Jue et al., 2010). In fact, since new sites constantly appear in cyberspace, there is no systematic or fixed method to classify all the social media applications (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). However, social media can be divided into different categories based on the applications’ functions and types. For example, some platforms are used in a certain geographical area or based on their functionalities. By reviewing various theories of social media, a few existing ways can be identified to classify the social media channels: 1. Categories based on the two key elements of social media, media theories (social presence, media richness) and social processes (self-presentation, self-disclosure) (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Kaplan & Haenlein (2010) assumed that “the higher the social presence, the larger the social influence that the communication partners have on each other’s behaviour.” In addition, the concept of media richness is closely associated with social presence. The degree of richness of the information transmitted determines
  • 41. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 32 its effectiveness and differentiation from others in resolving ambiguity and uncertainty. Concerning the social dimension of social media, the self- presentation concept of Goffman (1959) demonstrated that people have a desire to influence others to gain recognition and to create their personal identities in any type of social interaction (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The self-presentation is done consciously or unconsciously through the self-disclosure process (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Combining both dimensions, (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010) visualised their approach of classifying social media, as shown in Table 1. A collaborative project, such as Wikipedia has the lowest score on both dimensions, as it is often regarded as text-based and has a limited user interaction. Social networking sites enable users to disclose more personal information, such as feelings, emotions, thoughts, and personal views by sharing pictures, videos and other forms of media besides text content, and allow a higher level of information exchange and user interaction. Finally, the virtual social worlds, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft, share some of the similar aspects of the real environment. These types of games replicate all dimensions of behaviour and interaction in life which allow the highest level of social presence and self-disclosure. Table 1: Classification of social media by social presence/media richness and self-presentation/self- disclosure (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010) Social presence/Media richness Low Medium High Self- presentation/Self- disclosure High Blogs Social networking sites (e.g. Facebook) Virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life) Low Collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia) Content communities (e.g. YouTube) Virtual game worlds (e.g. World of Warcraft) 2. Categories based on the social media application’s functions (Constantinides & Fountain, 2008). The UGC is the key factor of this approach because users are content contributors of the application functions. These categories include:
  • 42. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 33  Blogs: online diaries or journal where people express their view, ideas images, and links are becoming the fastest growing applications, podcasts, that is, digital audio or video can be used on portable devices.  Social networking sites: applications where users build personal websites to exchange personal content and communicate with other, e.g. Facebook.  Communities: websites are used to share particular types of content, such as videos and photos, e.g. YouTube, Instagram.  Forums: sites for exchanging ideas and information around special interests or topics, e.g. Reddit.  Content aggregators: applications that allow users to fully customise and manage the content they want to access from various online sources for reuse or resale. The content aggregator applications are based on the technique of Real Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary (RSS). 3. Categories based on users’ purposes (Turner, 2010) Turner (2010) divided vast social media platforms into three main categories based on usage purposes as following:  Platforms which help to network: e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.  Platforms which help to promote: e.g. Google, Vimeo, YouTube, and Yahoo.  Platforms which help to share: e.g. Instagram, HootSuite, Pinterest, Reddit, and SlideShare. However, the usage of these platforms is often integrated to create new values and increase the effectiveness of social media depending on users and companies’ objectives. As mentioned earlier, this thesis aims to understand the most popular tools which will be used to analyse the case study in the empirical part. Thus, the following section describes the two-major current social media tools used in organizations:
  • 43. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 34  Blog: the earliest form of social media (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The blog is considered as an online diary, journal or publishing of an individual or a company where they can regularly post new entries (Constantinides & Fountain, 2008). Mainly, the blog is used for the authors (so-called bloggers) to share their stories and views about specific topics. The blog is made to gain public attention for effective marketing and communication (Jue et al., 2010). The blog can be used either internally or externally. Companies are using blog content to update the important news of their development to customers, shareholders and to the current and the potential employees. Every time the company writes a blog post, it is creating content that people can share on social networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, which helps expose the business, the marketing campaign and other helpful contents to targeted audiences. One of the most important features of a blog is providing the possibility of interaction with others (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The readers can interact with the blogger by sharing their opinions, asking questions through the comment section. Moreover, the blog is considered as a helpful learning tool where leaders and experts share information about the current problems happening in the industry internally (Jue et al., 2010). Therefore, the blog is an important tool for communication and thought-sharing. Text-based blogs are still the most common format. Nevertheless, blogs also provide multimedia formats, e.g. photos, music, and audio links to create rich content and deliver more experiences to users (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Today, more and more social media applications are developed to specialise all kinds of users’ purposes. Instead of having a general blog, users can combine different tools to specialise the content. For example, vlog (video blog) on the YouTube channel and presentation on SlideShare, which support visualisation of contents to reach larger audiences, can be found across different platforms (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Microblogs, such as Twitter, is similar to the blog, but the content is limited to 140 characters or less. Microblogs are widely adopted by large segments of the population and used by individuals and businesses (Turner, 2010). Microblogs encourage users to have a high frequency of posting entries, prompt posting,
  • 44. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 35 reading and providing comments. The multimedia content can also be attached to microblog platforms (Constantinides & Fountain, 2008).  Social networking site is an application that allows users to connect by building their personal profiles, inviting peers and friends to access their personal profiles, and communicate. The personal profiles on social networking sites contain different types of content and information including photos, video, audio files and blogs (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The social networking site acts as an online social community where an individual can express their life-stories, communicate with their family and friends, organise events, and create a professional network. Users can link and share their social network with other social media channels (Constantinides & Fountain, 2008). Nowadays, engaging in social networking sites has become an integral part of people daily communication routines. Companies are already using social networking sites to support their brand communities, increase their profit margins and enhance marketing activities (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). 2.2.2 Social media impact on employer brand management From the organizational perspective, social media are helpful to improve organizational operation from communication, and attractiveness to external audiences through amplifying the word-of-mouth effects, marketing activities and particularly to enhance the brand awareness of cost reduction by establishing online communities (McCann & Barlow, 2015; Jones et al., 2015). There are multiple ways to explain the phenomenal growth of social media in communication and marketing in employer branding, such as the penetration of the social networking sites to the job seekers (Nigel Wright Recruitment, 2008). Almost everyone uses the social networking sites, e.g. LinkedIn and Facebook, to look for opportunities. Thus, companies and recruiters need to be present where the potential applicants are in order to approach and induce them to engage in the recruitment. Social media platforms create a new concept of interaction which leads to new possibilities and a new way of thinking in attracting the potential employees (Sivertzen et al., 2013). Due to the limitation of resources, social media are particularly useful for SMEs to build relationships with stakeholders, increase brand awareness, exhibit showcase expertise and acquire new contacts compared to traditional approaches (McCann & Barlow, 2015; Jones et al., 2015). Moreover, social media stimulate users to
  • 45. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 36 interact with each other to encourage the engagement and development of a long-term relationship with businesses and brands (Jones et al., 2015). With the use of social media, the searching rank of business on search engines (e.g. Google) increases significantly. Thus, the brand recognition is also enhanced (Jones et al., 2015). Therefore, companies intensively take advantages of social media to promote employer brand campaigns effectively and solve the issue of seeking talent (Sivertzen et al., 2013). The employer branding process involves a wide range of social networking platforms as a recruitment tool and to increase the employee engagement. Moreover, using social media in employer branding activities supports building a positive corporate reputation of organizations, which links to the intention of candidates to apply for a job position (Sivertzen et al., 2013). In general, social media have a significant impact on employer brand management by making it more open and democratic (Nigel Wright Recruitment, 2008; Sivertzen et al., 2013). In today’s recruitment process, advertising job vacancies through social media platforms has become common and allows organizations to reduce cost, and to access and evaluate applicants better. Besides the applicants’ qualifications, organizations take into consideration the personalities of potential employees to evaluate the candidates, whether they fit into the organizational culture (Nigel Wright Recruitment, 2008). Social media sites are tools that help recruiters to observe the profiles of candidates, their personal communications and activities, values, and lifestyles which facilitate them in making hiring decisions. The important role of social media is to provide content to the right target audiences more effectively (Jones et al., 2015). Moreover, social media are beneficial for organizations to have effective interaction by promptly responding to potential employees (Sivertzen et al., 2013). In terms of the employer brand, social media channels gain several advantages compared to Web 1.0. Web 1.0 provides read-only online content. It allows web users to search and read information only in a one-way direction (Fleerackers, 2011). Social media encourage current employees and potential candidates’ participation and contribution, so that organizations can improve their internal and external marketing activities, as well as their innovation process (Jue et al., 2010; Kärkkäinen et al., 2010). Social media are becoming a global phenomenon where professionals use it as a strategic tool. In particular, social
  • 46. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 37 networking sites and blogs are increasingly replacing the traditional media in terms of brand creation (Bruhn et al., 2012). Social media do not rely entirely on the financial situation of an organization as the traditional marketing. The impact of social media (e.g. electronic word-of-mouth) will continue, even though the budget runs out (The Internet Advertising Bureau, 2011). Based on the survey conducted by HAAGA-HELIA University in 2013, the most popular social networking site currently in Finland is Facebook with more than 2.4 million active users. Also, Facebook (83%), YouTube (73%), LinkedIn (63%), Twitter (49%) and blog (45%) are the five major social media channels that Finnish companies are constantly using for their marketing purposes. Furthermore, up to (73%) of Finnish companies in the survey expressed that social media are important to their businesses. Particularly, brand awareness is the most important reason that companies use social media. However, social media generate a massive amount of quantitative and raw data to analyse. Therefore, companies find it difficult to measure the impact of social media on return on investment (ROI) (McCann & Barlow, 2015). Approximately, 70 percent of the companies admitted to difficulties in measuring ROI in the social media (Bocedi, 2013). 2.2.3 The social media performance measurement The ROI of social media involves the proper analyses of the qualitative and quantitative data, employing the informal and formal methods, and assessing the tangible and intangible benefits, and that makes the measurement process complex (McCann & Barlow, 2015). More and more companies have adopted social media to reach a larger population of the target segment and to enhance their brand awareness. Because social media are different from the traditional media in many different aspects, they bring intangible benefits for companies, particularly, improving the communications and the brand awareness. Since social media platforms are all about the people and relationship between them and not the monetary value per se, it is required to have different methodologies and techniques to measure their effects (The Internet Advertising Bureau, 2011; McCann & Barlow, 2015). Although the literature on this topic is extensive, social media measurement in SMEs is still in an immature state (Murdough, 2009), which makes it challenging for companies to see a direct result from the investment of social media (McCann & Barlow, 2015). It
  • 47. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 38 is crucial to fully comprehend the objectives and characteristics of social media platforms regarding organizational goals. Measuring social media is problematic, because of the lack of standards and tools. This section will describe some of the measurement tools and the key performance indicators (KPIs) to help solve this problem of SMEs, partially. 2.2.3.1 Key performance indicators and measurement tools It might be ambiguous, and possibly misinterpreted when converting quantitative metrics to economic values (The Internet Advertising Bureau, 2011; McCann & Barlow, 2015). To assess business value derived from social media, the Internet Advertising Bureau (2011) suggested to combine technical metrics (soft metrics) (e.g. number of visitors) with financial metrics (hard financial metrics) (e.g. cost per lead and cost per engagement), and is comprehended across the organization. Unlike cost per clicks, cost per lead defines the cost that a company should pay to the advertisement publisher only when a lead is generated, such as account registration, and subscription. Moreover, it is essential to focus on a few metrics for each business objective to keep evaluation simple and flexible to avoid analysis paralysis (Murdough, 2009). There are many social media platforms which offer built-in analytical tools such as Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analyser, and Google Analytics (McCann & Barlow, 2015). These built-in tools provide quantitative data on the platforms usage, such as the number of followers, likes, page views, mentionings, and site traffic information. Besides, other analytical software can provide more thorough and sophisticated reports about the impact of social media across various platforms, including sentiment analysis, and interpret the tone of a conversation. However, the effectiveness of semantic technologies is limited due to the cultural and regional biases (McCann & Barlow, 2015). Based on the research findings of McCann and Barlow (2015), the most common and familiar measurement metrics are both the quantitative and the qualitative measurements. Quantitative:  The number of followers and enquiries on the social media channels.  The number of visitors and site views.  The number of engagements on the social networking sites (e.g. likes, comments and shares on Facebook).  Sources of traffic to a website (e.g. referrals, email, and advertisements).
  • 48. Kim Anh Pham - The use of social media in enhancing the employer brand. 39 Qualitative:  Brand awareness.  Positive/negative comments and conversations and what they mean for companies. Some of the tools used to monitor and measure are built-in metrics provided by each social media platform, Google Analytics, Klout, CrowdBooster, How Sociable, Visible, Salt Social, and Bit.ly analytics (McCann & Barlow, 2015). However, a thorough discussion of these tools is beyond the scope of this research. The Internet Advertising Bureau (2011) established a framework (see Figure 8) to enable the consistency and standardisation in the social media measurements. Figure 8: The iab social media measurement framework (The Internet Advertising Bureau, 2011) The framework of The Internet Advertising Bureau (2011) encompasses three major blocks representing the main steps of the measurement process. 1. Intent: The framework begins with intentions of the companies. The whole measurement process should be carried out in the relation of the pre-defined intentions and objectives. Without clearly defined objectives, there are no criteria to evaluate success. Similar to McCann and Barlow’s (2015) opinions, it is essential for companies to determine their key goals, objectives, and metrics