Founded in 1974, Dennis Publishing are one of the leading independently owned media companies in the UK. They have transformed their business from a traditional print publisher to a multi-platform media company and in 2011 they created the Life at Dennis Twitter page.
We welcome you to our guest blog interview between Becky (our Marketing & Events Exec) and Alexandra (Talent Acquisition and Social Media Partner at Dennis)…
Becky: When did Dennis decide they wanted to start telling their story online?
Alex: They have always had social media accounts and they used to use them without having a strategy in place. I started here about a year and a half ago and around 6 months into my Talent Acquisition role it was changed to include social media as well. So I put our strategy together and came up with employer branding and storytelling.
Becky: Why did you start telling your story online and do you use any other sites apart from Twitter?
Alex: I wanted to put a structure in place and let people know what it’s like in our offices at Dennis. I wanted to be able to show people what a fun place to work we are and some of the benefits they’d have if they worked here. We currently use Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
Becky: And when you refer to yourself, does that mean it’s just you that posts updates or do you share the responsibility with other team members or departments?
Alex: At the moment it’s just me that posts online, but we’re looking to bring in an intern to support me in 2017. Right now it works well balancing it with the recruitment aspect of my role and other departments get involved with the content, especially on our Instagram and Snapchat pages. A few colleagues actually have the log-in details which we find best for them as they are able to take a quick snap and upload it when they’re out and about.
Becky: Is there anything in particular you’re aiming to achieve by telling your story online?
Alex: My main goal for Life at Dennis is to share our culture and get it known in the community. We are very proud of who we are and how we work so we want this to come across in our job adverts.
Alex: We also wanted to grow our platforms and get our culture across to more people, and also to get our brands across as well as they are some well-known names. We are now wanting to build our brand with Dennis as a whole hub and showcase who we are altogether.
Alex: Increasing our quality of hire by sharing our events and activities in and out of the office is really important to us too. We want to hire good quality candidates that will stay here for a long time, so sharing the benefits of working for us is important.
Becky: When you started putting together a strategy for posting online to reach your goals, did you attend any specific training?
Alex: Yes I attended some courses to learn some new skills including Instagram for Business, Digital Marketing and Recruitment Advertising. But I also conducted a lot of research by researching what other companies were doing.
I also searched a lot of the big companies like Google to see what worked for them, and to see whether it could work for us. I then put the ideas I found into my strategy and started building our platform online. I also searched to find when our audience were online and looking at content so I knew the right times and days to post.
Becky: As you were using ideas from Google and other large companies, did you find it difficult to do what they do online?
Alex: I was only mainly trying to find out how they were doing it and to see if there was anything we could incorporate onto our pages. Really I just wanted to know what we could do to make us an Employer of Choice.
But as we are built on a charity I really wanted to push our work online as we do a lot of volunteering and tree planting. The content and ideas for these posts were what I gained from looking at larger organisations. Not every idea I took from them has worked, however it did build a premise for me to create my own voice online.
Becky: Well you’re definitely doing well online, your posts prove you’re a popular company to work at. But has your popularity online come from a lot of practice and finding out what works best for you or from the training you attended?
Alex: I learned a lot from the training and developed new skills in social media marketing. Also, I tried a few things in the beginning just to see how they worked, like different types of posts for job vacancies, but they never got much attention. So we started what we’re doing now with posting more image content on our social media and careers pages to see if it helped bring more attention. It’s definitely more engaging and now when we post a vacancy for our brands, we make sure to tag their accounts, so candidates can tweet or message them directly if they have any questions about our interview process.
Alex: Really our successes are from practice and learning what to do for it to work. When the sites were first launched the team didn’t use them often enough due to no strategies being in place as I’ve mentioned before. But once I came in and created our Employer Brand strategy it became like second nature and easier to bring people into our world.
Becky: Is there anything that surprised you since you’ve started posting online at all?
Alex: One of the best surprises has been that we’ve had a lot more applications coming through since, which we monitor using Google Analytics. It shows a massive increase of candidates coming through our social media pages after seeing a job advert.
We’ve also seen more people are enjoying the pictures we post too. At the end of 2016 we actually planned a Christmas campaign where each day we opened a virtual advent calendar which shows a few questions we asked our employees. We did this because our pictures get a great amount of retweets and likes so we know it works well with interacting with our audience. We also posted them on the majority of our social media pages for optimum views.
Becky: And would you say you’ve faced challenges since you started posting your Employer Brand?
Alex: The only real challenge we faced when we started this was getting everybody in the business understanding why we wanted to do it and why it was important. My colleagues in each department understand more why it’s important that we do it now, but it was definitely a challenge at the beginning
Becky: And why is it important to you?
Alex: Well we want to increase our quality of hire and now that everyone is on board with this they are a lot more enthusiastic too. Which is great for us because more people are getting involved in posting and they’re happy for their pictures to be posted online.
Becky: So from your challenges of getting people involved around the business, have there been any important lessons that you’ve learned?
Alex: The biggest lesson was definitely speaking to people in the business. We learned that including them in the project, and finding out what they thought about who we are has allowed me to post things that they would like to see as well as our audience.
Another lesson learned was that research really is key to begin sharing your employer brand. I did a lot of research on other companies, but I also held informal sessions within different departments to find out more about what our staff thought of our employer brand. Originally we just wanted to find out what posts they’d like to see as well but as our vision became more directed toward talent attraction, we realised that we needed to find out what they thought too.
Becky: Throughout the interview you’ve mentioned that you wanted to see what worked well by posting online and seeing how much interaction you gained from it. Do you analyse the success of your posts in any other way?
Alex: I use Google Analytics to find where applicants are coming from and whether they’re coming through our social media channels, which I’m happy to report a lot of them are.
To see how our posts are performing though, I tend to use Twitter Analytics and the analytical tools on our Company’s LinkedIn page. Using these lets me see how we’re growing online and how much traffic we tend to get through our sites.
The main way we find out how we’re growing online is by looking at our pages to see if our followers have grown.
Becky: So looking toward the future of Life at Dennis and looking back at everything you’ve done so far, do you think you could still learn more?
Alex: There’s definitely areas for improvement. Because I don’t really have experience in digital marketing I’m hoping to get more involved in courses in the future so I can build my awareness and become more skilled. For now though, what I’ve learned so far has clearly worked well which I’m proud of.
Advice for other companies
Becky: It’s been really great talking to you today Alex so thanks for taking time out of your day to help us. We provide a lot of advice for companies and hold many training events around Employer Branding, but is there any advice you could give to companies who are just starting out?
Alex: Of course, I’m always happy to give advice to others to help them out a bit more. When it comes to employer branding and being online the only advice I really have is:
• Always plan in advance and build a strategy.
Don’t just jump straight in and get started because the content you post could be completely irrelevant to the audience you are trying to reach. Think about what you like to see online and research the competition first to see how they’re doing things.
• Get your colleagues together and see what they think
We really wanted to get the whole business involved so that our audience can see the point of views being shared online from all of us here. With everyone understanding what we were looking to do, it made it much easier to get them involved and it was definitely a bonus that they enjoy working here. We also retweet and regram our staff online who are happy for their personal accounts to be linked to our company ones.
Well that’s a wrap my friends. Our two great interviews have come to an end and we hope you’ve taken some good tips away for how to start telling your story. The moral of this story really is research research research!
If you do want a little more help and guidance, why not register for our ‘Building your Employer Brand by telling your Organisation’s Story’ webinar on 14th March? You can even register by clicking here.
Interviewed and Written by Becky Cellupica, Marketing & Events Executive