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The social intern

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A great article contributed by one of our fantastic interns.

I’ve been interning at Bright Innovation for the past 8 weeks. Having turned up on my first day half expecting to unpack boxes from the office move, I’ve found myself playing a much more important role with an ever-changing and expanding task list, including helping with the social media accounts of three Bright Innovation clients.

If you haven’t heard, there’s a school of thought that interns can’t (or shouldn’t) be trusted with social media. Many arguments exist as over-generalised attacks towards graduates that are young and therefore also immature, irresponsible and self-centred (I’m looking at you Inc.com).

However, a number of arguments are, of course, grounded in wisdom. As 83% of marketers believe that social media is important to their business, and nearly 60% of them spend six hours or more using social media each week, it is understandable to have reservations about allowing a fresh-faced intern to act as the face of the company.

Argument 1: Interns lack professional marketing experience

Although interns may be able to honestly say “I’m always using [insert favourite social media platform]!”, using social media in a business context requires more than aimlessly scrolling and ‘liking’ to cure boredom on packed morning tubes and posting your most attractive holiday photos. It requires a more thought–through approach. Social media strategy needs to occur in line with overall marketing strategy and retain a consistent tone – in line with your company’s message.

I wasn’t completely uncomfortable in the world of professional social media before joining Bright Innovation. However, the brief for managing the social accounts of my previous employer consisted of following the latest in celebrity, fashion and beauty trends – any deeper insight was anything that I picked up on myself.

Creating social content within Bright Innovation has been more of a mentoring experience. Where I’ve been allowed to discover what does and doesn’t work for myself, I’ve also been guided and taught some of the most important practices about posting on social media – such as the importance of directing readers back to your website, building audience, creating a balance between own and third-party content on a range of platforms and, importantly, peak times for maximum views.

Argument 2: Interns don’t understand your business (or businesses)

When trying to create and maintain a social voice, it is important that any person behind the account understands not only the audience, but the impression and tone that the business wishes to make. The introduction of a new face to the mix, intern or otherwise, may present challenges.

Whilst the majority of interns are new to the working world and still uncomfortable wearing grown-up clothes, we haven’t (at least in my case) managed to escape the interview process. The knowledge an intern holds about your company may not be particularly in depth, but is easily broadened, if they are keen to learn. And what is an internship, if not learning role.

Working for a consultancy such as Bright Innovation, this learning process is made more difficult: I have to understand multiple client companies. To begin, I was given client websites, a number of focus words, and challenged to find engaging content.

Although a steep and not necessarily fast-paced learning curve, I feel I’m really starting to understand the fundamental differences between the clients that I work with – to the extent that I’ll be scrolling through my phone at home and have to email myself an article that could work for so-and-so. This may not have been as easily learnt or keenly remembered without being given the opportunity to work on social media accounts; perhaps because like 50% of young people nowadays, I learn by doing.

Argument 3: Interns aren’t fully invested in your business

The supporters of this argument warn about the risks of interns – young people working jobs they’re not sure they want, to make their expensive degrees feel worthwhile. An intern may not join with a ready-developed passion for marketing, and they may be transient, but that’s not to say they don’t care about your company. At Bright Innovation, I’ve been made to feel like a valuable part of the team, whether helping with social or otherwise.

Learn more about why social media – specifically LinkedIn – which should be a key part of every B2B marketing strategy.

Alexandra JefferiesThe social intern
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Talent marketing – A new approach for modern tech businesses

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As the economy pick-ups and tech companies all over the country are starting to become busier, their ability to hire top tech talent is having a huge impact on their success. This is because the core strength of a services company lies in the skill set of its team.

The fact is that candidates simply have more choice and hold the upper hand in the “war on talent”. With 58% of UK hiring managers directly experiencing a skills shortage this year, candidates know they are a valuable commodity and are able to be more demanding from potential employers.

Candidates aren’t just looking for a good remuneration package; they are looking for a company that shares their same philosophies and culture, and one that can enrich all aspects of their life.

There are companies who have woken up to this issue and have developed strategies focused on nurturing and harvesting an active talent pool. It’s these innovators that other firms should learn from. Red Badger – a Bright Innovation client – is a company that has set the bar high in this respect. Red Badger is a software development company specialising in open source technology. The skills they need are in high demand so they have adopted a community building approach to help them, not only find good people, but to create brand ambassadors who can promote the brand within the community.

Recruiters have long been talking about active and passive candidates, and developing strategies for attracting the latter, who are ever-elusive and hard to reach.

However, traditional recruitment, by its nature, is reactive and recruitment companies see little benefit in spending the time establishing and nurturing active networks of passive candidates. Instead they use tools like LinkedIn to proactively search for them.

Following the traditional approach means companies must start from scratch every time they need to hire. For modern tech companies this means a lot of needless waste. This is why companies must adopt an alternative, long-term strategy for talent acquisition and retention.

Now for the controversial part… For a long-term and successful talent acquisition and retention plan, companies should forget about measuring short term results. They should instead concentrate on adding value to their community by doing a great job of marketing their brand.

Ironically, not focusing on results can deliver the great results. 

Great marketing, which covers the entire marketing mix, will naturally expand your engaged audience, whilst having the obvious benefit of winning new clients.

Your passive talent audience will see your marketing activities, and, if these activities are compelling and make you stand out from your competitors, candidates will be impressed!

Candidates care about brand. Does your brand resonate with the type of people who you want to work for you? Your brand is crucial, so invest in it.

You only need to look down the list of the Sunday Times Best Companies to work for to see how investing in your brand can translate into a successful talent strategy.

One way to stand out from your competitors, and build a brand that people will get behind, is to give back to your community. In the open source world, for example, there is a rich and exciting culture of giving back and sharing knowledge.

Why not host a regular event where members of the community come into your office to hear the cool stuff you’ve been working on? Are you blogging and using social media effectively to show off your thought leadership and give your valuable insights away for free? This is a chance to showcase your culture and give people a chance to experience your brand – and gain from it.

Develop young talent. Work with local universities, schools and engage with apprenticeship schemes. Not only will you be able to nurture and train young talent in the methodologies and technologies that are important to you, but you will also be helping young people to learn new skills that will benefit you, them and the wider economy.

Bringing young talent into a business can have a great effect on your existing and more experienced staff: they get the chance to pass on skills and knowledge, while the newbies bring in fresh ideas.

There are also great PR and marketing opportunities for companies who have innovative junior hiring programmes.

By creating compelling marketing campaigns, engaging with your community, and nurturing young talent, you are building a brand which will resonate with tech talent.

It’s not easy, but this is a long-term approach which isn’t just going to benefit your business in terms of the talent you can hire.  You will win new customers, help build and shape your community, and help the next generation of talent get their foot in door. There might even be an award up for grabs.

A marketing and community-focused approach to talent attraction can sound daunting, but, with effective planning and delivery, this approach could build a long-term talent pipeline whilst reducing your recruitment costs.

Zoe MerchantTalent marketing – A new approach for modern tech businesses
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