Brand obsession: social media reveals when brands resonate – and when they don’t – for customers & employees alike

Brand obsession: Social media reveals when brands resonate for customers

Last month, two leading newspapers published fascinating articles that examined a trend of employers increasingly obsessing about how their brand resonates with current and future employees.

In the 26 January print edition of The Economist, the article “Woke, not Broke” discusses Gillette’s new The Best Men Can Be advertisement and its stand against “toxic masculinity.” From a revenue-generating perspective, the view is that Gillette’s ad is a deliberate strategy to get free publicity by generating controversy. The 26 million views of the original short film on YouTube, plus the pages and pages of follow-on reactionary videos, suggest success on this front. 

Beyond consumer economics, there is also an important employer/employee insight. It’s becoming conventional wisdom that employees want to work for companies whose values, as projected by their brand, align with their own. With the Gillette advert, Proctor & Gamble took a clear social stand, projecting elements of its culture for all to see.

In the 22 January edition of The Wall Street Journal, Rolfe Winkler and Andrea Fuller wrote about “How Companies Secretly Boost Their Glassdoor Ratings. In most large companies, there is someone in the HR organization charged with monitoring employee sentiment on Glassdoor. HR leaders are keenly interested in what’s being expressed there because they know most candidates will screen social media to see if there’s value alignment with an employer before engaging in the recruitment process.

I actually doubt that significant resources are invested in manipulating Glassdoor rankings. Not only is there data from 60 million unique monthly visitors to try to “move,” there are other social media outlets where employees can share their experiences. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all have enormous reach to potential future employees. With social media, it’s nearly impossible to fake integrity when it comes to aligning the external and internal brand experience.

Social media is increasing transparency about the employee experience. Employers are becoming more deliberate, purposeful, and authentic in building their culture to create environments where their people thrive. And beyond the employee, society will benefit in the long term from more purposeful and socially conscious organizations – that’s what The Economist would call a positive externality.

Ilya Bonic
by Ilya Bonic

President, Career, and Head of Strategy at Mercer