Cisco’s Carmen Collins shares the four “E’s” that help WeAreCisco spotlight company culture through employees

When you have an ambassador pool of over 70K employees, how can you activate them to share your culture story?

If you’re Carmen Collins — Social Media Lead for Cisco’s Talent Brand team — you engage, encourage, empower, and elevate them. Carmen shares how these four “E’s” are the key to the WeAreCisco Talent Brand Team’s success and how they used them to grow their February #WeAreCisco #LoveWhereYouWork social media contest.

Carmen’s team’s first “E?” Engage.

This is the closest way that we as a talent brand can get you in front of an employee to see what it’s really like.

“Our team knew through social media listening that our employees were already posting in about what a great place Cisco was to work,” says Carmen. “So the first thing we had to do was engage with them through #WeAreCisco and tell them someone was listening.

“They told us later that they felt like they were a lone voice in the wind, but when we brought them together with other like-minded people, they felt like they were a part of something bigger — which is very much in line with our employee value proposition, what we call the ‘Our People Deal.'”

Once they engaged with their active employees, the talent brand team’s next task was to make use of their second “E” and encourage them to keep posting and sharing their stories with WeAreCisco.

Cisco’s biggest talent brand campaign, the #WeAreCisco #LoveWhereYouWork contest, began in 2016 in an effort to bring together those employees and encourage them to post more — while encouraging employees who weren’t posting yet to contribute as well. The contest just finished its third year, with each year getting bigger and garnering better employee stories.

It takes place every February — “the month of love,” Carmen says — and spotlights Cisco employees from across the globe who love their jobs and the work they do there by promoting their Cisco pride on their personal social media channels.

The talent brand team took #WeAreCisco, which employees were using organically to talk about Cisco’s culture, and turned it into a company-wide culture initiative.

By encouraging employees to be active on social on behalf of their culture, the Cisco Talent Brand team could help employees connect with like-minded employees — and give them a chance to win some awesome prizes in the process.

The first year the contest had 1,000 entries. The second year, it grew to 1,300 entries. This year, the team nearly doubled last year’s entries — thanks in large part to utilizing partnerships with other teams, such as employee communications.

This contest has become an integral part of the talent brand’s strategy and a big component to its success in the past few years.

User- and employee-generated content can be scary things to companies.

“This contest serves two purposes,” Carmen explains. “One, to get employees used to and understanding that it is okay to share on social and that we want them to. And two, it fuels our content funnel for the We Are Cisco campaign because all of our channels are filled with us amplifying employee photos.” Thanks to this year’s contest, the WeAreCisco team has enough employee stories to run two employee-bylined blog posts twice a week until June (with more still in the works).

But, just as importantly to Carmen, it strikes a tone of authenticity and candidness to their company culture. “As a brand, we can say all day that it’s a great place to work, and people will say ‘eh, okay, you say it’s a great place to work, but do I know that?’ This is the closest way that we as a talent brand can get you in front of an employee to see what it’s really like.”

Once the contest is over, employees still use the hashtags year round, Carmen says, “because we spent three years getting employees accustomed to using them.” Which moves the team into their third “E:” Empower.

When an employee posts using #WeAreCisco (both during the contest and throughout the rest of the year), the team asks permission — out in the view of everyone in social media — to use those photos in social media.

“We also ask specifically for that employee to tell us more about the photo so we can write out a caption. Then that story comes in and gives us fodder for other outlets — perhaps a blog, perhaps an Instagram Story, or another opportunity. So far, we’ve never had an employee say ‘no.'”

Furthermore, this content empowers employees to be the voice of Cisco’s culture. The talent brand team identifies “super ambassadors” and gives them extra guidance that allows them to become employee influencers.

“We have an employee takeover every single day on Snapchat. When we do an Instagram Live or a Facebook Live, it’s our employees broadcasting on our behalf,” Carmen explains. When the team began the Snapchat takeovers and Facebook Live broadcasts, she sourced her first ambassadors from the employees who were #WeAreCisco super-users.

Starting out with 20 ambassadors on Snapchat, Carmen and her team have quickly grown the project to over 70 ambassadors and counting.

Facebook Live videos give us the ability to still reach our Facebook audience.

“The Snapchat program started out as a pilot — and three weeks after launching our ‘pilot’ we were told we weren’t a pilot anymore and we should go for it. And that’s a testament to those ambassadors.”

For Carmen, it was worth developing that strong network of ambassadors because it not only provides consistent, excellent content, but it also keeps them ahead of the ever-changing social landscape.

Carmen explains, even with the algorithm change, “Facebook Live videos give us the ability to still reach our Facebook audience.”

And the employee-focused live content works better for their goals.

“Anything can happen live,” Carmen says, “Which is bad for television, but great for what we do because when an employee messes up or says the wrong thing — or their wifi goes out in the middle of a presentation and they come in and say ‘oops, sorry, technical difficulties’ — all that does is make the broadcast more real and makes the employee more endearing.”

The team expects to have over 100 ambassadors on Snapchat and is planning to grow their Facebook and Instagram Live broadcasts in the next few months. They’re looking forward to continuing to showcase Cisco employees and their company culture.

Then, to make sure the content gets the visibility they need, the talent brand team closes out with their final “E:” Elevate.

Each time a blog, a Facebook or Instagram Live broadcast, or a Snapstory comes through, the @WeAreCisco social channels elevate that content and amplify it back out to the world. This elevation continues the circle of content creation and starts the cycle of “E’s” all over again.

“User- and employee-generated content can be scary things to companies,” Carmen says. But, “In the relationship that we’ve built with our ambassadors, they want to do well. At least once a week, we will have someone reach out and say ‘hey, did you see my Snapchat this week? How can I do better next time?’ or ‘How did you like it?’ They want to do well because we have that inner-circle feeling that we’ve built with them. We also share metrics with them and treat them like extended team members.”

Cisco’s focus on building relationships with employees that spotlight individuals and Cisco’s culture has been very successful — and Carmen and her team have the trophies to prove it.

“It’s just a testament to how great our team and our ambassadors are,” Carmen says. The WeAreCisco team has over 40 awards for their work in 2017, and Carmen Collins is the winner of the Digital Communicator of the Year, Digital Leader of the Year, and Top Women in PR awards for 2017.

“We do some cool stuff,” as Carmen notes, “But it takes a village.”

Carmen has been a Board Member of Talent since 2017. You can follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

The Short List: Hilton Worldwide, Intel, Cisco, and more

Hilton Worldwide is spotlighting their female employees on Instagram with a new story every day during Women’s History Month. Twitter >>

Premier Nutrition’s PowerBar brand is using VSCO — a social app for photographers — to source and hire creative talent. Digiday >>

Cisco‘s Talent Brand Social Media Lead, Carmen Collins, shared what she and her team learned from participating in Twitter’s #BrandBowl through their careers social media handle, @WeAreCisco. LinkedIn >>

Johnson & Johnson, Intel, IBM, Procter & Gamble, and Lockheed Martin made the top of of Fortune 500’s Employment Brand list for engaging career pages and employment brand storytelling. Recruiting Trends >>

Intel recently joined the Talent community. Their membership will be led by North America Recruitment Marketing Lead Raj Suri, joined by Global Digital Engagement Manager Danielle Miller. Talent >>

WOW! is hiring a VP of Talent Management to create social media strategies surrounding their recruitment campaigns. (Denver, CO) WOW! Careers >>

Want to see more stories like this? Subscribe to the Talent Marketing Board Short List, our weekly email newsletter about employer brand and recruitment marketing leaders at the world’s biggest companies.

The Short List: Lockheed Martin, General Mills, United Airlines, and more

Senior Manager for Integrated Digital Engagement Megan Mitchell shares how United Airlines is using their shift to in-house video creation to promote the stories and daily work of their employees on social media. Digiday >>

Kevin Hunt, Corporate Content and Channels Manager at General Mills, shared benefits of using social media for internal communications and external recruiting on the corporate level. LinkedIn >>

Leah Sketo, a Human Resources Manager at Lockheed Martin, is speaking at an upcoming Virtual Summit on reaching and retaining millennial talent. She will discuss how to engage on social to attract the next generation of workers. PR Daily >>

Starbucks and Columbia Sportswear are using Facebook Workplace to increase employee engagement, reporting daily use by over 80% of employees on the platform. Forbes >> Talent‘s second Member Meeting will be in New York, May 16-17. Member Meetings are private, members-only meetings to connect and share with talent acquisition and employer brand leaders who own social media at major companies. Learn more >>

IBM is hiring a Recruitment Talent Community Manager to oversee media planning and social media campaigns that will attract and segment talent communities. IBM Careers >>

Want to see more stories like this? Subscribe to the Talent Marketing Board Short List, our weekly email newsletter about employer brand and recruitment marketing leaders at the world’s biggest companies.

The Short List: Cisco, Bloomin’ Brands, Harman International, and more

Carmen Collins, Cisco‘s Social Media Lead of Talent Brand, won PR People Awards’ Digital Leader of the Year for her work spearheading the WeAreCisco Snapchat ambassador group and second annual #WeAreCisco #LoveWhereYouWork contest for employees. PR News Online >>

Charlotte Marshall, Vice President of Digital, Social Media, and Employer Brand at Magellan Health, shared the importance of employee advocacy programs to build trust with candidates and discussed the launch of their #WeDoGoodWork campaign. ADT >>

Harman International recently joined the Talent community. Their membership will be led by Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition Branding & Strategic Partnerships, Darryl Ramey, joined by Director of Global Talent Acquisition, Kumari Williams. Talent Members >>

Men’s Warehouse is looking for a Director of Talent Acquisition to drive the development and execution of their recruitment and talent strategy through social media, external search, and direct sourcing. Men’s Warehouse Careers >>

Bloomin’ Brands recently hired Kelly Bonn as their Manager, Talent Acquisition. LinkedIn >>

Want to see more stories like this? Subscribe to the Talent Marketing Board Short List, our weekly email newsletter about employer brand and recruitment marketing leaders at the world’s biggest companies.

The Short List: Progressive, Merck, Cox, Allianz Life, and more

John Graham, Global Talent Acquisition Social and Digital Strategy Lead at Merck & Co, explains how their recruitment strategy took advantage of the industry shift to social media. Business2Community >>

Erin Hendrick, TalentSearch Leader at Progressive Insurance, discusses how they are creating a unique social media recruitment campaign that aims to undercut the stereotype that insurance is “boring.” Forbes >>

Allianz Life Senior Director for Talent Acquisition Tracy Bruckschen talks about the importance of networking on LinkedIn and utilizing employee referrals in their recruitment practice. Star Tribune >>

Flex, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, and Progressive Insurance recently joined the Talent community. Learn more at Talent >>

Cox Enterprises promoted Robert Woodard to VP of Cox Talent Acquisition where he will lead a team of 150 talent acquisition specialists. PR Newswire >>

Union Bank & Trust is looking for a Head of Talent Acquisition who will drive the creation of a talent acquisition strategy and develop a social media plan for recruitment. Union Bank & Trust Careers >>

Want to see more stories like this? Subscribe to the Talent Marketing Board Short List, our weekly email newsletter about employer brand and recruitment marketing leaders at the world’s biggest companies.

Highlights from Member Meeting 1 in Orlando

Last week we wrapped up our first Talent family reunion at Member Meeting 1 in Orlando!

31 talent acquisition and employer brand leaders who own leading social media at 16 major corporations got together to talk about the things that are most important to their work right now.

Here are the brands who were there: AbbVie, AT&T, BASF, Blizzard Entertainment, Cisco, Dell, Enterprise Holdings, Great Clips, Honeywell, John Deere, Johnson & Johnson, Kindred Healthcare, Lockheed Martin, T-Mobile, UnitedHealth Group, and Vanguard.

We heard six Show & Tell presentations from Talent members.

They shared stories about projects they had led, challenges they had faced, what went well, what didn’t work, and what they hope to do next. We heard from:

  • Charlotte Jones on how Lockheed Martin enhanced its talent management strategy through Glassdoor analytics.
  • UnitedHealth Group’s Heather Polivka on how she uses personas and journey maps to shape their content strategy and deliver content their users find engaging and appropriately tailored to meet their needs.
  • Cisco’s Carmen Collins on how to use Snapchat and Instagram Stories to your best advantage.
  • Jennifer Newbill from Dell on what it means to “think globally, act locally.”
  • Stephanie Scher on how Vanguard uses voice-of-employee metrics to improve candidate and employee experiences.
  • Tisha Leslie from T-Mobile on empowering employees to speak about what matters to them at work and in life.

You won’t want to miss the next opportunity to have face-to-face conversations with people like you at brands like yours.

Stay tuned for information about our next meeting!

You have a weird job. But you’re not alone.

Welcome to Talent’s new blog.

It’s dedicated to our members: the people leading talent acquisition and employer brand for social media at major corporations. It’s one part showing off all of the great things they do, one part showing you you’re not alone.

Because yes, your job is weird.

There aren’t many people with the same challenges, the same worries that keep them up at night, the same privilege of perspective, or the same opportunity to create change.

We know a lot of people like you.

And our only job at Talent is to bring people like you together and give you a safe space to have the conversations you can’t have anywhere else.

If you’re a member, this blog will help you get to know your community better and build deeper connections on those shared experiences.

And if you’re not, we’re hoping this blog will tell you more about the people you want to get to know — people like you with jobs like yours at companies like yours — so you can join them in our private community.

This is the only place in the world talking about exactly what you do.

Want to be a part of this? Email