Oscars host Ellen Degeneres set a record for most retweets during the Oscars telecast. Photo: Twitter.com/TheEllenShow.
Oscars host Ellen Degeneres set a record for most retweets during the Oscars telecast. Photo: Twitter.com/TheEllenShow.

It was the “selfie” seen round the world – nearly 3 million RTs in 24 hours and it even temporarily BROKE Twitter.  I put “selfie” in quotes because technically, the pic was actually an “usie” (which, by the way, is a “group selfie,” in case you’re tragically uncool or older than 20).

But either way, no matter what you want to call it, I thought it was kind of fantastic.  And if you’re in employer branding or culture marketing, it’s something that you need to pay attention to – a reminder that when it comes to creating shareable content, you can’t have a meme without “me.”

I know what you’re thinking, but love them or hate them, you’ve got to face the fact that selfies (and usies) have become an integral part of the way we share and spread our experiences socially – and should be a core component of a well rounded, comprehensive talent attraction strategy.

After all, selfies & usies provide a powerful tool for humanizing your talent brand, offering glimpses into our culture & employees in a fun, relevant way that provides an authentic perspective into what it’s really like to work at a company – and the people who make that company a unique and compelling career destination.

Selfies are a great way to connect with candidates and make your culture brand immediately accessible and imminently transparent – even if this guerrilla style marketing technique is a staged part of a planned strategy.  Here’s a bit of the backstory; after all, content only works with context.

Selfies: A Brief History

While the concept is anything but new – those of us old enough to have had to actually print our pictures remember have been setting a timer and running into the framing of our own photo for decades – the term “selfie” itself is a relatively young invention.  In fact, the first ever #selfie (hashtag included) was uploaded on January 16, 2011.

Now, users have uploaded an estimated 83 million selfies on Instagram alone, and another 35 million on Twitter, with millions more added every month.  There’s even been a #SelfieOlympics (which were actually more interesting than most of Sochi).  Take a look at the photo population of these “secondary hashtags” appended to selfies across social networks:

  • #Selfies: 3,692,570 photos
  • #SelfieSunday:  2,025,077 photos
  • #SelfieSaturday: 358,421
  • #SelfieMonday:  62,395

The “selfie days” these hashtags suggest hold a special interest to me as a talent marketer.  While Saturday normally doesn’t have a huge impact on talent attraction and acquisition, Sunday and Monday certainly do.  Agency recruiters, after all, have long known that late afternoons on Sunday are one of the best times of the week to connect with potential candidates who, like most of us, are likely dreading going back to work and facing another Monday morning.

Which, of course, is when online and mobile traffic to job postings consistently hits its weekly peak (this actually occurs around 3 AM on Monday mornings, if you want to be specific).  The candidate pool – and the likelihood that passive talent will be receptive and responsive to your message – is already high.  Capitalizing on the power of selfies in the job search is, like everything else, all in the timing.

How To Use #Selfies In Your Talent Attraction Program

Selfies offer a great form of social proof that add depth and dimension to your existing talent brand assets.  Having real employees – not actors, models or company spokespeople – send in selfies of themselves or usies of their colleagues and coworkers allow candidates to get a first person point of view into what it really looks like to work at a company.  It allows them to self-identify with potential future co-workers in similar or desired roles and work situations, providing proof that your culture is what your career site copy actually advertises.

Sure, there are the obvious company outings & parties, events and coffee klatches – but giving your employees the freedom to snap their own pictures at their own desks or in common areas like a company gym or meeting room sends a powerful message about your company’s transparency and technology adoption, too – even if those aren’t the obvious subjects inherent to a #selfie.

Here are a few other tips for boosting your talent attraction program’s #SelfieEsteem:

1.Pass along helpful tips on how to take good pics to your employee groups & remember to establish “acceptable use” guidelines on what can & can’t be included in pictures.

2.Check with your legal team to ensure they don’t require releases even with employee submissions. And for campaign management for dispersed workforces? Take a look at MomentFeed.

3. Mostly, make it fun!  Not only should you give your employees flexibility in the pictures they take and send, but find a way to share them.  Post it to the company intranet or sharing tool like SocialCast, Sharepoint or Yammer, or even feature these images in traditional employee communications collateral like newsletters or branded brochures.  If you’re having trouble getting employees to participate – which is often not a problem, given that recognition, in selfies as in everything else, provides its own reward – consider gamifying the process with friendly competitions for small prizes or allowing other employees to vote and comment on other #selfie submissions.

To attract talent, you need to speak to them in a way that shows you understand them & are in touch with their world.  Selfies and Usies are a brilliant branding tool because it not only fulfills both of these goals, but does so without portraying your culture as something its not, because it lets your candidates see potential future coworkers and colleagues through the lens of current employees’ trusted eyes.

If you want to give your talent attraction programs a shot of #SelfieEsteem, consider simply turning the camera around, have a little fun, and don’t forget the flash!  

crystalAbout the Author:  Crystal Miller is a strategist with AT&T and has nearly a decade of recruitment marketing and digital strategy experience. In addition, she has led both the internal HR function for a regional $350MM business and the largest real estate recruiting practice for the leading single-site search firm in the United States.  Miller has worked with start-ups to Fortune 5 companies to create and execute compelling recruitment marketing & employer branding campaigns.

She has been a reliable expert source on the topics of talent attraction, talent acquisition, talent management, and digital strategy for multiple media outlets including CBS, Hanley-Wood, Mashable, and ABC. As an industry leader, she is recognized for expertise in recruitment, recruitment marketing, social media, social communities, talent pipelining, and digital strategic solutions and speaks globally on the same.

Follow Crystal on Twitter @TheOneCrystal or connect with her on LinkedIn.