Corporate Influencer the next big thing in employer branding?

Published on 22-10-2017

Are we going to talk about fancy avocado on toast pictures in the cafe or extensive fashion shoots in the conference room? No, not really but we are going to have a closer look at what and who corporate influencers are.  How big is their potential in areas such as recruiting and employer branding? We had a closer look at this by examining the new strategy of the Otto Group.

What and who are corporate influencers?

Influencers became important, especially in the fashion industry, quite quickly. You can find them sipping on their latte macchiato in a stylish café while casually showing a watch of the new summer collection. The picture will be posted on Instagram, the caption includes the matching hashtags and the brand is tagged. Of course, this is a very simple portrayal of the influencer job description. In a nutshell, they are suppose to engage with their followers and persuade them to buy a certain product.

The fashion industry, however, discovered a completely new version of influencers: the Corporate Influencer. The idea is that employees promote their company’s qualities via social media as well as at conferences and exhibitions. This gives the employer brand more authenticity, makes it more transparent and would hopefully attract more cultural fitting future employees as they research employers and brands.

Corporate Influencers at Otto

 Otto Group,  a globally active group of retailers and retail-related service providers, recently launched a Corporate Influencer pilot programme: The company offers employees the opportunity to take part in so-called ‘Influencer Workshops’. The reason? Eugenia Kirchmeer, Corporate PR at Otto tells us they realised how much colleagues like to post, tweet, blog and share about how passionate they are about working for Otto. At Otto they felt “they should use that unique opportunity”, according to Kirchmeer.

That resulted in Otto employees being provided with the opportunity to receive a ‘corporate influencer’ training. For free of course! The training includes different social media strategies, how to build an audience, an insight into content creation, presentation skills as well as general information about Otto’s employer brand. After completing the training the brand new corporate influencers are supposed to be able communicate Otto’s values and culture more clearly with possible candidates, virtually and in real life.

But what are the advantages of an employer branding strategy like this?

Corporate Influencer and Cultural Fit

A win-win situation for all

First the many advantages for the company:

  • New recruiting methods
  • Improved external reputation
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Clear communication of company culture

Summed up, the company’s position can only improve if its employees are so passionate about the brand and company that they can’t stop including their employer in social media activities!

And for the employees?
Well, first of all, employees receive free training and obtain new knowledge about how to use social media more effectively, also ideal for their private use. For now, at Otto, corporate influencers won’t receive higher salaries or other benefits. Kirchmeer states that this was never discussed or of any importance to participating employees anyway. Most of them have an attitude of “I am doing it anyway. But it is great that you support me!”.

Corporate Influencer and Cultural Fit – The chemistry must be right!

Otto Group is taking its employees’ engagement seriously. The future engagement and responsibility of corporate influencers illustrates this even more: They are not only supposed to post aesthetically looking Instagram pictures but are going to be actively integrated in the company’s recruitment process:

“The development of the online platform Ottogroup.com belongs to one of the most exciting projects in the European e-commerce. We want that potential candidates receive their information first hand from other peers, working at Otto”, says Katy Roewer, group executive management at Otto. “Our employees are going to become influencers with the power to pick their new colleagues themselves!”.

But can that really work out?
We at CompanyMatch believe that employees can be the perfect reflection of a company’s culture. But there is one vitally important requirement: The cultural fit needs to be right!
An employee cannot become a company’s ambassador if personal values, standards and preferences do not align with those of the company. So, if you are considering to integrate corporate influencers into your recruitment strategy, you must be aware of your company’s culture! If the culture is superficial, the term “corporate influencer” might quickly be replaced by “corporate disaster”.

Are you wondering how candidates can determine their cultural fit successfully?
We conducted in-depth research about this topic in and published about this in our recent blog post!

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