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Social media: getting smart about engaging the younger generation

This is a guest post by Sandra Upeslacis who is the Manager, Talent Retention and Acquisition at NATIONAL Public Relations , past articles by Sandra are here.

As communicators, we find social media to be extremely exciting. Never before has there been such an incredible opportunity to connect with and engage so many people so quickly. But social media is about much more than simply influencing consumers outside an organization. In fact, one of the most tantalizing opportunities is how it can be used internally to engage and inspire employees to become true brand ambassadors. With the right social media strategy, businesses can stimulate employee engagement, collaboration and innovation.  Ultimately, this can have a big impact on recruitment and retention.

Deloitte Consulting is a good example of an organization that created a social media campaign to retain and recruit more Generation Y employees by getting them engaged with the company and sharing what it’s like to work for Deloitte. The company created a film festival and asked employees to make their own 3-minute movies, answering the question, “What’s Your Deloitte?” A staggering 372 films were submitted by 2,000 film makers — about 5 percent of Deloitte staff.  The gallery where the films were shown was viewed over 400,000 times; and winners got an experiential trip — a visit to the Sundance Film Festival, or a cash prize. To view the films, visit

One of my colleagues at NATIONAL Public Relations, Carolyn Ray, an employee engagement expert, recently headed a study titled, Start the Dialogue:  Employee Engagement in Tough Times. Her study found that social media is a ‘game-changer’ for employee engagement because it has the potential to dramatically redefine and re-energize internal communications. Carolyn believes organizations that use social media tools are more transparent, honest and authentic in their communications, which can be indicative of a more open, dialogue-driven and innovative work environment.

For younger job seekers, this has interesting implications. We all want to work in places that have innovative, transparent and fun cultures, right? For example, would you ever ask a potential employer if they are using social media tools to communicate with employees? Does the CEO have a blog? Are message boards, online forums, Twitter and wikis part of the culture? Is there an alumni group on Facebook? Take a look at Zappos, which has its own TV network, and a CEO and COO blog, and lets employees tell the story of its brand and culture at .  This type of testimonial is more credible than any advertisement because it comes straight from the employees.

While most organizations are still learning how to facilitate social media internally, the Dialogue study showed there is widespread support for face-to-face and online tools that enhance two-way conversation. Respondents identified many positive attributes of dialogue, including the ability to build trust with leaders, better understand employee concerns, and overcome internal silos. All of these things can contribute to a positive and exciting work environment.

Facilitating dialogue through social media can go a long way toward engaging staff and creating more rewarding work experiences. So, the next time you are interviewing for a job, ask how social media is being used internally to connect and engage employees. Let me know what you heard.

Sandra Upeslacis is the Manager of Talent Retention and Acquisition at NATIONAL Public Relations, Canada’s largest public relations firm with more than 325 employees in nine offices across Canada, in London and New York. . Email, [email protected]

Toby Ward

Great article, Sandra. Deloitte is on the right track and walking the walk (though I’m not sure how many really good candidates they will get as a result, but it would be interesting to learn).

I just wrote an article, building off of the Intranet 2.0 Global Survey findings, on social media & employee engagement that might be of interest: “Intranet 2.0 Increases Employee Engagement”

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