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Why UGC is central to employer brand

In a recent webinar, we talked to Mary Streetzel, Head of Employer Brand at Google about the value of UGC to an organisation's employer brand and how to make the most of employee advocacy.

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Written by Ed Stennett

1 Sep, 2023  –  6 min read

There are few more powerful tools in the marketing cupboard than user advocacy stories. People trust people, which is why we all put so much stock in things like product reviews whether written or recorded. 

The same is true for your employer brand - positive workplace experiences are a powerful tool in not only recruiting new talent but retaining existing employees too. Empowering employees to tell these stories in a meaningful way is key. This is where user-generated content, or UGC, can be your ally.

In a webinar with Mary Streetzel, Head of Employer Brand at Google, we discussed the value of UGC to an organisation’s employer brand and how Google is making the most of its employees’ willingness to share their positive brand experiences. 

What is user-generated content?

Simply put, UGC is content that is created by your users, or in this case, your employees. This can take many forms, from writing blogs to contributing to the business’s social media accounts to recording positive workplace experiences as short but powerful videos via a platform like Seenit.

UGC taps into an authenticity that many may feel is lacking in more traditional marketing methods. This is why it is so immensely powerful. It enables you to not only showcase the positive working experience from the perspective of existing employees but also to communicate these stories to candidates and prospective talent - all while cutting out the high costs of using a professional video team.

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Considering that 86% of HR professionals believe recruitment is becoming more like marketing, having access to a potentially untapped pipeline of user-generated content within the organisation is exceptionally valuable.

How does UGC tie into employer brand

A critical output of an employer brand is the positive perception it helps to create in the minds of existing and prospective employees. So it makes sense to amplify positive working experiences where possible - and if they come directly from employees themselves, so much the better. 

“Employee-generated videos are a constant part of the active programs that we’re running around employee advocacy,’’ says Streetzel. “We know it’s important because the recommendation value from others you get with user-generated content is way more powerful.”

“On average, candidates are six to seven times more likely to click through and apply to job postings if UGC is present.”

Mary Streetzel, Head of Global Employer Brand, Google

Streetzel also notes that the authenticity of UGC is the key to driving higher brand lift and perception rises. Empowering employees to tell these stories is a great way of not only creating effective content but also providing an avenue for people to express themselves fully and truthfully. Seeing the business engage like this can help foster greater levels of trust among employees and bring your employer brand to life.

“You have to demonstrate that authenticity and this means your employee stories don’t have to be perfect,” says Streetzel. “Employees don’t have to feel like it’s something really big because user-generated videos can be meaningful even in small amounts, like going to do Instagram stories from people’s desks.”

While authenticity is a key element of UGC, flexibility and scalability can also be beneficial. UGC can be created almost anytime, anywhere across teams and locations, ensuring not only powerful content for different recruiting teams but that you’re providing localised opportunities for all employees to get involved and feed into your employer brand.

“Flexibility Is important and if we align on that and then localise content, we’re making sure that we’re being inclusive,” says Streetzel. “We feed UGC to every region. There’s something for every single one of our stakeholders in recruiting, and then we localise the content for specific ads so that we’re giving the brand messages that matter to employees in specific markets.”

The TikTok revolution

The beauty of UGC is that it’s relatively cost-effective to create. Nearly everyone in the workplace will have a phone capable of shooting good quality video, and many will be familiar with what makes good content simply through using social media like Instagram and, in particular, TikTok.

“TikTok is important because it is a reflection of the shortened attention span of our employee audience,” notes Streetzel. “And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it’s a reminder that a six-second video is really all you have. So that’s a really huge thing for us.”

This is where employee advocacy comes back to the fore because while employees are more than capable of creating the short-form videos seen on TikTok, they’re not obligated to do so, nor to create them about their employer - it’s about ensuring a positive work-life via an employer brand that makes employees want to speak out positively about the business.

“We have thousands of Googlers on TikTok that talk about Google all the time and it’s really popular content - but we don’t control it at all,” says Streetzel. “It’s better to have that deep relationship so that we can learn from [what employees are posting about] and then make sure that we’re reaching the audiences with stuff that they want, in the short, six-second video format they want.”

UGC: act or miss out

For many organisations, taking the first step into creating UGC with your employees may seem like a bit of a daunting step. However, by following the examples and advice from the team at Google - leverage short-form video content, embrace cross-team learnings, and empower employees to create proactively - and you’ll be putting a strong foot forward.

But if you’re not sure where to start, why not reach out to the Seenit team? Our platform enables your teams to create their own, short-form, on-demand UGC quickly and easily to supercharge your employer brand comms and help you stand out in a competitive talent market.

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