A match made in… BeReal? Attracting Gen Z talent on social media

In the world of social media, where everything shared is a highlight reel, it can be difficult to distinguish true moments of authenticity from a thinly veiled marketing ploy.

The same goes for employer brand marketing - how can organisations shape their employer brand on social media in a way that’s ‘real’, that makes Gen-Z lower their blue-light glasses and think, ‘I can see myself working there’?

Whether your target audience lives on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, or the trend du jour, BeReal, let’s explore how your employer brand marketing can break past the doom scroll to snap up people’s attention. And more importantly, keep it.

1. A picture paints a thousand words: Spotlighting your people on Instagram

Starbucks Instagram

Think Instagram is just a place for 20-something year olds to soft launch their new partner in their weekly photo dump? Think again. It’s the second most downloaded app in the world, and Gen Z says it’s their favourite social media platform, ranking it above TikTok and Snapchat. Over 70% of Instagram users are under 34 years of age, so it’s the place to be if you’re looking to hire new up-and-coming talent.

Due to the popularity and usage of this platform, it’s likely your employer brand and consumer brand will have a huge crossover here. With the right strategy, your employer branding content and consumer branding content can complement each other and, in fact, be a great marketing tool. 64% of people say they have stopped buying from a brand after hearing of poor employee treatment. Showing your organisation as a great place to work can increase interest from future applicants, while also driving brand appreciation in your consumer base. Starbucks Australia’s Instagram page provides a great example of this - content showcasing their team’s involvement in different initiatives and social causes drives internal pride and external appreciation, making it easier for their direct hiring posts to land.

Instagram is a great chance to get creative with your employer branding content. The key is to ensure you’re steadily building a brand and not just posting a job ad when you’ve got an opening. Show what’s happening behind the scenes, film day-in-the-life videos, and post milestones and special occasions celebrating your people. For a little inspiration, check out Brisbane-based fashion business VRG GRL’s day in the life Reels. The key here is to feature your employees in their everyday work - your people should be the stars of the show.

VRG GRL Instagram Reels

2. TikTok on the clock: Time to change up your employer branding strategy

Emerging as one of the uncontested victors of the COVID-19 pandemic, TikTok took the world by storm. With short-form video content showcasing current trends, it has stayed relevant long after other lockdown fads faded into obscurity (anyone remember Tiger King?). Many brands are taking advantage of TikTok’s reach to grow a consumer marketing presence, but this app also has immense potential to showcase your employer brand.

One of the more notorious examples of TikTok employer branding takes the unlikely shape of a rotund, lime-green owl. Ed-tech company Duolingo has skyrocketed their employer brand awareness and engagement since posting the hilarious, and sometimes absurd, adventures of their brand mascot.

Duolingo TikTok

And the mastermind holding the smartphone? Gen-Z native Zaria Parvez, whose gig at Duolingo was her first full-time job after graduating. Despite being the youngest person on Duolingo’s marketing team, Zaria grew the brand’s TikTok account to 3.3 million followers and 63.3 million likes, earning her a promotion to the brand’s Global Social Media Management. At the time of writing, it’s about to hit 5 million followers.

As the fabled ‘Great Resignation’ looms, employee engagement is more critical than ever. Finding a role that aligns with your personal values is key - it’s the employees who feel they can show up as their true selves to work and thrive who will stay.

This is where brands can (and should!) utilise TikTok as a way of showing the authentic employee experience, as this is what’s most likely to resonate with potential candidates. The uncanny accuracy of the app’s algorithm means your content will likely reach your target audience regardless; you just need to make sure that what you’re posting will resonate with them.

Digital natives aren’t looking for polished, professional content. Here, your content should be organic and engaging, and it’s definitely worth trying out the current trends. Just make sure you post them while they’re still popular and not six months later when Gen X & Y are discovering them through Instagram Reels.

3. Applicants in a snap: The ephemeral genius of Snapchat

There is arguably no app better designed for Gen-Z’s reputably short attention span than Snapchat. Primarily an instant messaging app, any text or video that users send self-destructs after viewing. The interface also features a ‘Discover’ page, where influencers or brands can post short-form videos advertising their products and services in a similar way to TikTok or Instagram. You can also pay to create branded Snapchat filters to generate buzz for current promotions, or just general brand awareness.

Snapchat Example

When it comes to employer branding, the most potential lies in SnapMaps. Here, users can see the current location of their friends on the app, as well as explore restaurants, shopping malls, and even watch concerts anywhere around the world. Just one touch enables you to see all public stories posted in any given area, whether it’s someone ordering a chicken nugget meal from your local Maccas, a sunset in South Korea or a fireworks display in rural Romania.

Global companies like Cisco, Goldman Sachs, and HubSpot have had success using Snapchat stories as part of their employer brand strategy, primarily through handing the camera over to their employees. As with TikTok, content that peels back the curtain on day-to-day life at a company does well here - it humanises your brand and makes consumers feel more intimately involved. So, encourage your team to post their office snaps to public stories - you never know who might be watching.

As Lauren Sanborn, Social Media Director at Schafer Condon Carter, auspiciously said: “Even if your brand doesn't have a Snapchat account and you don't advertise on Snapchat, that doesn't mean you're not there.”

4. A new player enters: Is it time to BeReal?

Every day in the EBA offices, there will be a moment when the phone of every under-27-year-old lights up with a notification, we’ll all lock eyes and chant in unison, “It’s time to Be Real!” The over-27-year-olds make fun of us for this weird cult-like behaviour, but they’re also still on Facebook, so who’s really the lame one here?

Okay, that was a very dramatic introduction - let’s dial it back. What is BeReal? Released in 2020, the app exploded in popularity in early- to mid-2022. Once per day, the app sends a notification that it’s “Time to BeReal” and the user has two minutes to snap a picture using the front and back camera simultaneously. And then … that’s it. Users only have the ability to post once per day, so once you’ve seen your friends’ snapshots, there’s no endless scrolling. BeReal is one social media app that won’t make a big dent in your daily screen time.

The concept is supposed to promote authentic sharing with friends, because there isn’t time to meticulously pose or filter your snap, and while there is a Discovery feature that provides an option to connect to strangers, the layout/concept of the app definitely prioritises connecting with friends rather than influencers, celebrities or brands.

Since its launch, BeReal has had 28 million downloads, the vast majority being in 2022. It now has 21.6 million monthly active users, and just under three million people use the app every day.

So, what opportunity does your brand have on BeReal?

The answer right now is simple: almost certainly nothing.

As it currently stands, BeReal has said they’re focused on growth rather than creating revenue. The app doesn’t push any advertising on users, and there’s practically no incentive to follow influencers or brands. There’s no telling what the future holds, and there may be opportunities to get involved in employer branding work here in the months to come as new updates come to the app.

But right now, BeReal remains a way to keep it authentic with friends - and one less thing for social media marketers everywhere to worry about.

BeReal Example

About the Author

Amy Brooks is one of our Employer Brand Storytellers, and relishes the opportunity she’s found at EBA to do what she loves most - write. Her background in hospitality and customer service ingrained in her a passion for people, and she aims to bring this to life through evocative and relevant storytelling. Amy is in her final year of a Bachelor of Creative Writing, but when she’s not working or studying, you’ll find her cleaning her apartment (she’s a Virgo), watching the latest LGBTQ+ shows on Netflix, or falling down a rabbit hole of Taylor Swift fan theories.

Tahlia Robinson

About the Author

As Employer Branding Australia’s Commercial Marketing Storyteller, Tahlia Robinson communicates our fantastic, imperfect organisation’s story to the world. With a background in PR for non-profits, she specialises in connecting organisations with their audiences in positive, meaningful ways. Tahlia is keenly interested in accessibility, activism, and keeping up with current trends on social media (while constantly wondering if she’s too old to be on TikTok).

About Employer Branding Australia

We exist to help you attract the best talent and keep them engaged. Together, we’ll create and promote your 'Why work for us?' and turn your authentic people stories into your most powerful marketing tool.

Contact us today for a free, honest assessment of your employer branding opportunity.

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