5 Recommendations for Creating an Authentic Employer Brand, According to Leaders at Netflix

February 2, 2021

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This post was co-authored by Amir Moini.

Employer branding is a relatively new function and as a result, it is continuously evolving and changing. It sits at the intersection of marketing, recruiting, and communications and it is largely impacted by culture — current events, pop culture, identity, values, and more.

The stories you tell about your company need to reflect that of the world and what people want in an employer.”

For Netflix, employer branding began in 2017, and throughout the years, it has grown and evolved. Our LinkedIn page grew from 300,000 to 6.5 million followers. We created a WeAreNetflix podcast, which has more than 1 million downloads. We’ve extended our reach to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And we also had to pivot during tough times. We don’t have all the answers and our approach is all about constant improvement. For example, as Netflix became a global company, we’ve also had to shift the work from being U.S. centric, which we are still learning how to do.

Below are our top recommendations for improving your employer branding strategy and for what you’ll need to do to be successful. A disclaimer — these are our personal recommendations. You have to do what’s right for you and your company and that may look different depending on your industry, location, and work culture. 

1. Find the right home: Employer branding should sit in communications

Employer branding is an evolution of communications. As the media landscape shifts and companies consolidate, there is more of an initiative to tell proactive stories through a company’s own channels. Since its start at Netflix, employer branding has sat on three different teams, including talent acquisition, marketing (editorial and publishing), and now communications. While most employer branding functions sit within talent acquisition, we believe employer branding should be part of a company’s communications strategy in the future.

Employer branding is not only about hiring, it is also about shaping the perception of a company’s work culture and having those stories be aligned to its larger brand.”

Being on a communications team has advantages, including more internal and external expertise, larger campaigns that can involve press and media, and more buy-in cross-functionally within your company. For example, we recently launched the company’s first inclusion report, as well as a 10-minute short film documenting specific case studies of inclusion at Netflix.

2. Stay current: Strategies will only work if they are relevant

Often as communicators, it’s easy to be “married to an idea,” especially when you’ve already invested time and money into a campaign. However, you are able to change your mind (and likely should at times). When leading an employer branding strategy for a multinational company, you always need to be aware of what’s happening in the world where your audiences live. That means paying attention to world events and ensuring that you have a good understanding of how people in local countries may respond to your content. A rule for our team is to only “post only when you have something of value to share.” Losing audience members and/or diminishing the quality of content is not worth meeting a social media posting schedule.

For our team, it’s about delivering value to our audiences and making sure that the content we produce is always meaningful and authentic.

It is important to change the tone of your content, as the world changes.”

As we know, 2020 was all about change, and as mentioned previously, we pivoted our strategy. In fact, we changed our strategy three times from March to December. The WeAreNetflix brand tells human stories, so with this pivot, we changed our tone to be more in line with reality, and we went from edgy and humorous to more straightforward, with themes of courage, community, unity, authenticity, and joy.

3. Expand the narrative: Perks and benefits won’t be enough

When people typically think of employer branding work, they tend to think of it narrowly as a function that promotes a company’s perks and benefits to attract talent. And certainly that is part of it. Employer branding rose to prominence as a job function with the technology industry’s competition for talent. As tech companies looked to attract top talent, they did anything and everything they could to stand out. Over the past five years, popular trends at tech and entertainment companies have been free food, unlimited PTO, and lots of free swag. 

But today’s top talent cares about more than just perks and swag. They care, for example, about sustainability and what your company is doing to keep the world green.

Talent wants to know that your company is inclusive and doing more than average to include BIPOC communities and that they are creating real equity. They want to know that your executives are human and care about others.”

To continue attracting top talent to your company, you’ll need to expand the current narrative to include other topics, such as what the company is doing to create equity and impact in the world. Otherwise, you risk not cutting through the noise and not standing out from other companies.

4. Meet people where they are: Find the right channels for your audience

In addition to increasing the topics we cover, we also have to look at expanding where we show up to tell our stories. For companies that actively do university recruiting, it may make sense to invest in platforms like Snapchat or TikTok. Outside the United States, you may want to investigate platforms such as Kakao and BizReach

In our case, we decided to invest in podcasts. Unlike blog posts and videos, podcasts are a way to go in-depth with a certain topic where listeners can be a fly on a wall, listening to employees having genuine conversations. We are also prioritizing our social channels including Twitter (focused on announcements, news, product updates, conversations, Q&As), YouTube (our hub for all employer branding videos), and Instagram (visual assets and stories).

5. Know your geography: Think local, not global 

As Netflix has expanded globally, our work has had to reflect that by, counterintuitively, getting more localized.

It is not just about working with a global mindset, it is about making sure the work is locally nuanced, impactful, and accurate.”

This requires customization of campaigns and partnerships with local teams and individuals: 

  • Black@ Stories in Brazil: For months leading up to Black Awareness Day in Brazil (November 20), our team worked with the employees in the region to capture their perspectives on what it means to be Black in the corporate world and how Netflix’s culture impacts their work and lives. We decided to delay the launch of our campaign due to the tragic death of João Alberto Silveira Freitas. In this instance, it was more important to stand with our Black employees and give them space, while respecting the pain and sorrow of Black people in Brazil, than to launch our work to meet our own schedule. It’s also important to work proactively with local experts to help with translations and modifying language that does not culturally translate: Something that may make sense in English may confuse your audience in Portuguese. 
  • One Asset, 23 Languages: Following the announcement of Netflix’s culture memo being translated into 12 new languages, we also launched a video that features the co-CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings explaining his top five lessons learned. This video was primarily to promote a book he co-wrote with Erin Meyer called No Rules Rules and we wanted to make this a global moment. We localized the video in 23 languages and worked with our colleagues on our local comms teams to launch on LinkedIn (geotargeted to the specific country), as well as pitching the video asset to local reporters and press. 
  • Netflix Culture Explained: Being a global company, our culture shows up differently depending on the region and country. As a result, we’ve explored creating video series that can help explain how Netflix’s work culture operates in that region and/or country. Examples include the Netflix Culture Explained Series focused on our EMEA region, as well as an additional series, Ask Our Tokyo Colleagues, focused on our office in Tokyo.

Final thoughts

There’s no one-size-fit-all strategy for employer branding, and companies must always do what’s best for their audiences. We’ve faced many challenges on our journey at Netflix, but we’re learning from them and getting better. Most importantly, we’re sharing those lessons with our global teams so that they can learn too. 

As employer branding continues to drive online engagement and external visibility for the company and its executives, it will become a more highly visible function at all companies. 

Remember to stay adaptable, expand your narrative past perks and benefits, meet your audiences where they already are, and create content that resonates hyper-locally.

This post was republished from LinkedIn.

To learn more about Amir Moini, Netflix’s employer branding global lead, visit AmirMoini.Media and follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about Marquise McCoy, Netflix’s employer branding program manager, follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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