3 in 4 TalentRocket profiles have an employer brand video. But if we’re really, like really, honest, we don’t ever get very excited about them. In fact, I may have even made a finger-down-my-throat gesture more than once.
Employer brand videos aren’t usually very good. I mean, you wouldn’t watch one for fun now would you? But why is that? When you think about it, an employer brand video should have a lot going for it.
They should be a fantastic way to attract great talent. And here’s why:
- You get a chance to let real employees tell their stories as a credible vehicle for your message
- They let you showcase your culture, offices and employee value proposition in a way of your choosing
- You get to tailor the content to the types of people you want to attract
- You’ve got total freedom when it comes to format
That’s a lot of boxes ticked for candidate engagement. And bags of potential for finding those seeds of authenticity that make for great storytelling.
But in practice, when most companies make an employer brand video, they almost systematically waste that potential in one way or another. Talking heads spouting cliché phrases, with upbeat background music. Colour by numbers. No drool.
I believe the reason is that they’re a delicate format. And it’s really easy to get them wrong if you’re not careful.
Here’s a few things I’ve found that would kill any good employer brand video:
When the employer brand video is too slick
The persuasive power of real-life examples comes from their authenticity. If there is no chipped paint, no sentence fragments, and no weird accents in your interview, it won’t feel genuine. It’ll feel like an investment bank’s corporate video. You don’t want that. (Especially not if you’re an investment bank.)
When everything’s just dandy, I’m not likely to believe you.
An employer brand video is about problem solving. You’re trying to show candidates that they can solve their problems by coming to work for you. But if you don’t admit that you have flaws, then it looks too good to be true.
Wouldn’t it be great if in an employer brand video, people said things like:
“Two years ago, our benefits package was, frankly, shit. But we worked it out and now it’s pretty good”
“We’ve lost some good people in the past because we didn’t listen to their concerns about training and development but we’re learning from that”.
That would certainly get my attention.
This doesn’t mean that an employer brand video can’t be high production value. But spending the money on getting rid of personality is exactly the wrong way to go.
When it’s just too long and boring
It’s probably fair to say that most employer brand videos try to do too much. Just the basics alone usually generate more than enough copy/video length to deal with:
- Introducing the company and what it does
- Purpose, why is your company’s mission important?
- What makes it a unique place to work?
- How people feel valued and how people work together
You’re already looking at about 2 minutes of airtime. But none of that stuff’s interesting just because it’s true (and just because you happen to know it). You can really kill a great employer brand video when you get carried away by the wealth of real-life detail of the job titles, chronologies, and exact processes of who does what.
Your audience doesn’t care. It massively inflates your video time and bores everyone out of their skulls.
Don’t ever take your audience’s interest for granted. Every piece of information needs to earn its right to be there. And sometimes the most basic stuff isn’t that important.
When it gets its wires crossed about the goals
Employer brand videos contain a basic flaw: they’re pseudo-altruistic. There’s something inherently fake about them:
- Employer brand videos pretend to be about giving you more information about what it’s like to work there, but they’re really about securing your job application
- Often, they’ll present their investment in culture like some selfless act of kindness. It’s not, they want to attract your application and then keep you there forever 😉
- They’ll need to ensure that the company comes across as professional, growing and/or reliable just in case customers/investors may be watching
- They’ll need to ensure that they show people with diverse backgrounds (ages, genders, races, body art, hairstyles), even though this may not be an accurate representation of the overall employee diversity
As a result, the story gets all muddled, and the author will try to do a little bit of everything and please everyone. Talk about the company for a while, show some pictures of the ping pong tables, then talk about the perks for a bit, then about the values, then switch to someone’s personal career story. Phew, I’m exhausted.
The simple, basic story acquires lots of side narratives, every box needs to get ticked becomes predictably lovely. And that’s a surefire way to make content vanilla.
When it’s too low production value
This is especially true of companies who don’t see the real value in employer branding: sometimes they’re born in the marketing department, as a side-project.
After a quick chat with HR they’ll dig out the company values. You know, the ones in the employee handbook that no one’s ever read. Next, they’ll make up a narrative that fits the story of who they are. A loose idea of what the culture is and send an email to the whole company asking who’s free this afternoon to answer some questions on camera.
Then, they’ll bake all of this second-hand information into a people/values/cliché-phrase pie. Design squeezes it into the video template. The video gets dropped on their careers page (almost certainly below the fold). Job done. That should keep HR quiet for another 18 months at least, now back to product marketing…
When it tries to be too funny
After seeing a clever marketing video like Dollar Shave Club go viral you can just imagine Sally in HR thinking, “We can do something like that for our employer brand video”.
No matter how hilarious Jenny in Finance is, it takes a lot of skill to make people laugh and all too often people miss the mark and the results can be catastrophic.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t try. Humour can be a great tool to show that you don’t take yourselves too seriously, like this brilliant employer brand video from Twitter.
Watch it here:
But if you’re going down this road make sure that your employees are fully onboard, that they are comfortable with the format and that it’s authentically you. No one likes a try hard…
That’s the bad. So here are some tips on avoiding employer brand video predictability:
- Treat it like a one-off: A good employer brand video needs to last, it needs to represent your values, not just your shiny new offices.
- Have a clear goal: Think hard about what story you want to communicate and get your goals straight – what does success look like?
- Define who it’s for: Who do you actually want to attract to come and work for you? What problems are they looking to solve by moving to you and how do you solve them?
- Define who it’s not for: You want to turn off people who won’t fit your culture from thinking that they will. Don’t be scared to show what sucks about working for you, the right people won’t be put off by that.
- Discuss how can you communicate your culture: You will have a different perception of what working life is like at your company to your colleagues. What common themes come up when talking about your culture? Create a list of the behavioural norms that can be communicated in the way people interact on screen
- Be authentic: Instead of saying it all, let’s tell a simple story, but tell it well. Where’s the kernel of truth – or the one killer fact that can be the organising principle of the content?
- Make it shareable: If people love your video then they’ll share it on social media and shower you in praise for having such an awesome culture. But they’ll only do it if there is an obviously easy link for them to do so.
- Stand out: The more creative the better, go all in or don’t go at all.
Here’s an example of a employer brand video from Gorilla that really draws you in.
Take a look:
It’s different, and it works – for three reasons:
It’s made for the viewer: The video starts by an existing employee telling us what she was looking for in a new company when she was searching for a job. Your viewers are in the same mental state as she was – hello, rapport – you’ve just been built! Big time…
It’s authentic: There’s a nice mix of people from people who are clearly more comfortable in front of camera and those who aren’t so comfortable. I can relate to the latter…
They’re not afraid to tell the truth: By stating that it’s a 40-hour week culture they’ve just put down a big marker that work life balance is important. Now if I take a job at Gorilla and they’re pushing me for 60-hour work weeks I have video proof that this is not what I signed up for.
And the winner is…
What’s the best employer brand video I’ve seen? It’s got to be this one from BambooHR. Rather than just including employees they’ve delved into their private lives and families to stress the importance of work-life balance and employee experience.
Most employer brand videos focus on what you’ll be getting upto in the 9-5. They flip it on it’s head by focusing on the 5-9 and it’s REALLY clever.
Take a look here: