For employer brands, social media can be an intimidating place. Between cancel culture, the ever-present threat of negative newspaper headlines, and Gen Z and their constantly evolving language, it’s easy to play it safe. But, fundamentally, social media is a competition for attention. And in order to engage audiences, you need to stand out.
Gen Z is a generation of sceptics. Raised with unprecedented access to information, the looming threat of climate change, late-stage capitalism, and a cost-of-living crisis that shows no signs of slowing down, they’re disillusioned. It’s hard not to be. But they’re also informed. More so, maybe, than any other generation was at their age.
Gen Z don’t simply accept what they’re told. Social media is full of information and opinions – not all of which are true – and so Gen Z has developed a unique ability to sniff out bullshit. They can tell when they’re being sold. They can tell when content has a motive. They can tell when things are overproduced and inauthentic. For employers, that means content that isn’t real, engaging, informative, or attention-grabbing comes across as overly corporate.
The elephant in the room.
TikTok. The wild west of social media. A platform that offers off-the-charts engagement, but only if you’re in on the joke. Where brands can supercharge their social media presence, or fail very publicly. Let’s talk about it.
There’s a reason TikTok took off. To reduce it to a silly dancing app is to downplay its significance – both to a generation and as a platform for change. In truth, it’s much more human than most social media platforms. Individual perspectives, boosted by an algorithm that shows users more of what they love, are delivered in short, endlessly consumable bursts. It’s easy to see how, for many, it has replaced Google as a search engine.
Brands like Duolingo, M&S, Netflix, and countless small businesses have seen huge success on TikTok. Their content has one thing in common: authenticity.
Authenticity sells. And when you’re dealing with a tech-savvy, brand-sceptic generation, the importance of creating content that feels genuine can’t be understated.
Ayo Ogunde is a social media expert and a firm believer in letting Gen Z take the lead. She’s put together some tips to help you create authentic, engaging content for your social media:
Play to your strengths. Every TikTok success story has found its niche. Duolingo, is in on the joke. Their content doesn’t take itself too seriously, and they’re not trying to sell in the traditional sense. Netflix stays on top of the trends, producing carefully considered content that keeps its audience front and centre. Small businesses speak to sustainability, shopping local, and buying bespoke. Follow their example – find out what makes your brand interesting to consumers, and create content around those themes.
Stop trying to please everyone. Not every social media user will be your target audience, and that’s okay. You want to reach candidates who are right for your brand, so don’t worry about your content being too niche for the general public. Pick your point of difference, and stick to it.
Take it seriously. Social media shouldn’t be an afterthought. Have a strategy in place that’s designed around creating unique, consumable content with a purpose. Treat it as you would your careers site or a job fair.
Talk to your target audience. If you’re running an early careers campaign, talk to the people in your business – or your personal life – that fit that demographic. They’re the experts, after all.
Avoid controversy. Cancel culture is a real fear for brands, but it shouldn’t stop you from using social media. Utilise focus groups and employees from all demographics to sense-check your content before posting it. If your content concerns groups with protected characteristics, consult relevant voices to ensure you’re not producing anything problematic.
Have fun. Social media is, at its core, entertainment. Whilst your content can be informative if that fits your brand, try to avoid overly corporate, staged or scripted content to maximise authenticity.
The importance of standing out.
It’s easy to do what you know. Job boards, careers platforms and websites are tried and tested. But in a world that’s rapidly evolving, employers need to get with the times. If Ayo can give you one piece of advice, it’s this: Stop overthinking it.
Talk to your colleagues, talk to your friends, talk to the people most relevant to the demographics you want to attract. Get the younger generations on board. Seek advice, be curious, download the apps, try something new.
But more than anything, post.