Ask yourself this question: What is employer branding, and who is it for?

If your answer was something like, “Employer branding is for me, the recruiter or hiring manager, and it’s meant to help me promote our company to candidates,” then I have bad news for you: You’re wrong.

Many people are under this misconception, but the fact is that effective employer brands are about employees, not recruiters and hiring managers. Crystal Miller, CEO of Branded Strategies, put it best at 2015′s Social HR Camp: “Know the hero in the story. Guess what? It’s not you!”

So, how does one create an effective employer brand? By following three steps: align the company culture, engage employees, and give employees a voice.

1. Align the Company Culture

If you want your employees to be proud of the company they work for, you need to first build culture they can be proud of. “If you have six employees, and you’re that afraid they’re going to leave, you’re not doing it right,” says Jason Seiden, CEO of Brand Amper.

Furthermore, it should be noted that employee happiness is good for business: Companies with happier employees earn 1.2-1.7 percent more than their competitors.

Create a strong culture through the promotion and implementation of values, beliefs, and praise. Give your employees something to engage with. Use your company’s mission statement as a staple of the culture you want to build. Ask candidates what is important to them and hire based on their alignment with the mission statement.

2. Engage Your Employees

Give your employees something to talk about. As Seiden puts it, “By allowing [their] employees to become social recruiters, executives and entrepreneurs are freed up to focus on vetting the talent and making sure they are selecting the best fit for the role.”

The voice of your brand should come from employees; let them lead branding efforts through professional social platforms, like LinkedIn. Sharing instead of selling is the new, subtler, and better approach: more than half of job seekers say they would accept lower salaries if a company has exceptional reviews online.

Story“Reviews” don’t only exist on sites like Glassdoor: How your employees talk about the company on social media acts as its own sort of review, and most candidates feel these “insider” reviews are the most influential when deciding where they want to work.

Encourage employees to share their positive, proud feelings about the company. Have them tell stories about the company, whether those stories are about company projects, team activities, or personal achievements. Don’t be shy – get everyone out there!

3. Give Employees a Voice

During her presentation at Social HR Camp, Miller advised companies to eliminate “brand narcissism.” Instead, she says, employers need to let employees be a major part of the conversation. She encourages organizations to pass the storytelling baton to their employees if they really want to create relatable, effective employer brands:

“Take your audience on a journey that emotionally invests them in your brand. The structure of a story takes the characters through a series of events that creates a need in the audience by highlighting a ‘gap’ between what is and what could be. Traditional marketing has done this for decades … making their consumers feel as though the use of their products would help improve their [lives] by making them better looking, smarter, faster, healthier, or happier.”

Your employees have stories, too. Let their stories be heard through the journey of your organization. Doing so will add substance to your organization’s overall brand story. Align the culture, engage employees, and watch your story bloom!

Don’t be a brand narcissist – let the voices of your employees be heard!

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