I am going to be speaking at the RecruitTech Conference in Canberra in a few weeks time. I have been asked to speak about my blogging experiences and how it relates to the work I do as a Recruiter for Oracle. One of the things that I will be mentioning in my presentation is that in the recruitment industry I feel that as we increase our use of online social networks, we are increasingly defining and creating marketing material for our employment brand. This got me thinking, with all the bloggers and people sharing their thoughts and ideas on social networks are we inadvertently taking on marketing/branding responsibility for a companies products/services. If so should we continue to do so or should we water down our online communication and leave the marketing/branding/PR work to the marketing and PR professionals.
I wanted to get a viewpoint from someone in the marketing/media space to compare to my thoughts. Last week I came across the homepage of DTDigital (I think it is great that the DTDigital homepage is their blog). I have asked Alex Campbell from DTDigital to share his thoughts on the increasing number of people who are sharing their ideas and experiences online and if it is having an impact on traditional marketing.
Alex Campbell: I always start with the premise that the people deep inside a business have much more interesting and useful things to say about the business than its marketing and PR people do. For example I’m sure that spending a morning talking with one of Oracle’s software engineers would be quite fascinating, whereas I wouldn’t be too excited about spending even 10 minutes reading any company’s press releases or marketing brochures. So the shift you’re describing is great news for consumers. We all need to go back to first principles and re-think the way we view “corporate communications” to support and manage these new conversations that are taking place between employees and customers.
There has been a fundamental shift in the way that information is shared. Information is no longer in the hands of a few to distribute to the general population. Now anyone can create an online community to share their view points on the topic of their choice. This shift could not be better for consumers (and in recruitment for candidates).
We are now able to see and hear peoples experiences that they have had interacting with any range of companies. This could be anything from dealing with customer service to the way that people may have been treated during an interview process. I would much rather hear honest and open feedback to help me make up my mind about a product/company than have to rely solely on marketing material that may only highlight the positives to “get the sale” or attract candidates. As an example what is a greater way to demonstrate great service – a blog/comment from a customer on their real life experience (good or bad) with a company or a glossy PDF file highlighting only the selling points of a product/service.
If you have not read the book “Groundswell” by co-written by Charlene Li – I would recommend going out to your local book store to buy it. I read Groundswell last year and in it there are some great examples of how companies are interacting with bloggers and communities to help them in achieving their business goals. Marketing and PR plays an important role in any company’s business, however I think the goalposts of what they will be responsible for are changing. People are now pulling information from multiple sources to make decisions about a product or service. I think marketing/PR folks and bloggers are going to have a somewhat interdependent relationship with each other.
Bloggers are not blogging to take on a marketing/PR function – they are blogging because they are passionate about the products/services/companies they are writing about. Bloggers and Marketing/PR people are creating content for different reasons (for the most part), but whether they are trying to or not both are providing branding exposure to many of the companies out there.