When I rebranded this blog over two years ago I wanted a tagline to sum up its contents. I wanted something that would highlight how it wasn't going to be another blog merely listing out the latest tech developments. 'Digital Marketing with Morals' sums up my approach in the workplace and also how this blog may differ to some others. But sometimes it can be a challenge to stick to this ethos. After all, people don't trust marketers.

For years, marketers have created highly-crafted campaigns that have one aim: to sell. As consumers, we know that this is their main aim, which is why we tend to be skeptical of everything they say. Of course they’re going to say their product is the best in the market.

This lack of trust has been built up over the years, ever since advertisers and marketing departments began coming up with fictional stories about their products and creating characters to give their products the edge. But now consumers are wising up to that.

For the most part, it’s safe to say marketers don’t lie on purpose. They have goals to hit and a target to reach. For as long as advertising has been around, the aim of the marketer has been to highlight the benefits of their product and show consumers how it will improve their lives.

Like food ads that promise you’ll be healthier and happier. Or car ads that promise you’ll be cooler. Creating narratives around products to encourage people to buy is not a new thing.

However, the emergence of the internet has allowed consumers to have more choice over what media they do and don’t engage with. These days, marketers won’t get away with weaving fake stories and highly photoshopped outcomes, because their audiences are on to them. No longer passive receptacles to the media, consumers are now in charge of the marketing landscape – which means teams all over the globe have had to make a huge shift in how they promote and sell their products. Authenticity has become the latest buzzword in the marketing world, but it’s here for the long term. Here are four key ways we can embrace this ethos (and sleep easier at night as a result!)

1. Stop talking about you 

I've lost track of the amount of people to whom I've spoken who want to set up a social media account as a broadcast medium. As we all know, someone who only talks about themselves becomes pretty boring pretty quickly! Instead, consumers want to know how you're going to help them. Rather than touting your product as the best show how it can inspire them to live happier lives.

2. Use your experts 

Most companies have people working for them who are experts in their field. Where possible use these people to highlight industry issues either through blogs or media interviews. This builds your authority, to become the go-to brand in your niche, and shows your audience why they should trust you.

3. Share real stories 

By opening the door and publishing either your employees. The important part here is not to focus on telling the facts too much. It's a well known fact that people don't remember what was said but what they felt. One authentic 'pride and passion' story capturing a moment in time will always beat something just showcasing the facts.

 4. Go easy on the branding 

Many brands are now going light touch on the branding in their campaigns. The aim of this is to highlight how they are trying to improve the industry landscape as a whole. It becomes more about public service rather than a quick sell. Of course, this is a brave strategy but the idea is that it creates some brand interest and loyalty. McDonalds and Bose tried this in their latest campaigns to great success.

So as marketers how can we make attempts to keep some of our morals intact? For me it's trying to give back to the local community where possible which is why I've helped out the local Pre-school and have built them a new website. It's not much (and it took me nearly a year to get round to) but it means this particular marketer won't be chased out of the village with flaming torches and pitchforks just yet!
I've purposefully deviated from my usual posting schedule to focus on some great news! A few weeks ago Kier Group was awarded the ultimate LinkedIn accolade - that we are now one of the top 25 companies to work for in the UK (number 21 to be precise). This firmly puts us as the top construction company where the UK wants to work in 2017. This is no mean feat given the other big hitters named on the list (Amazon, John Lewis, Virgin and Facebook). Especially given the resources at their disposal compared to ours!

This means so much to us as ever since I started in this role LinkedIn has been essential to our digital strategy. We have always been careful to post sparingly to a defined audience. We have differentiated between our other social media accounts with the type of content we share. This combined with our ongoing relationship with LinkedIn themselves has ensured that we don't get left behind on an increasingly complex and sophisticated channel. LinkedIn's London office is one of my favourite working locations and I'm there as much as possible to network and hear about the latest developments in their themed rooms!

This list of top 25 companies has been on our radar for a while and I've worked closely with our Head of Resourcing to make our inclusion a reality. The final ranking has been compiled by looking at the billions of actions taken by LinkedIn's 500 million+users and also some very specific metrics:
  • Job applications - We have a much greater than average number of people viewing and applying jobs through LinkedIn. We also have focused on championing different pathways into the industry through our Apprenticeships week campaign. This shows our strategy to target the right people is working. We are also putting a lot of effort into growing the recognition of the brand which is paying off.
  • Engagement - As part of our work and training to ensure all colleagues 'rock their profile' LinkedIn measured profile views and connections from across the company. This contributes to our impressive reach for our/their posts and an increase to nearly 80,000 followers.
  • Retention - With a large number of our employees connected to the company page LinkedIn measured how long they remain with us. We are a fun place to work and the amount of money raised for the Kier Foundation through various exciting and different initiatives proves this.

Being an in-demand company is a great accolade to have as career builders today work at more companies than any previous generation. In a competitive marketplace we've proven we can attract top talent and keep them. We now have more to do to ensure we leverage this award as much as possible and have begun planning how to communicate it both internally and externally. But first it's time to celebrate!

Intruder alert!
So last Tuesday our Head of Resourcing, PR Officer, HR Director and I headed to London to collect our award in style. LinkedIn's drinks reception was being held on the Deck of the National Theatre with representatives from all 25 companies in attendance. It felt strange attending an awards event where we knew in advance we'd won! The drink was plentiful (I abstained as it was a Tuesday night) and the networking was varied as we were invited up one by one to pick up awards. I still don't know who the two identically suited interlopers were flanking us in the photo?!

And finally it's worth mentioning that we recently topped another list. We were named as the second most successful construction company on Social Media in the Civil Engineering Surveyor (page 39). In general I'd agree with all the methodologies used to compile this list but the author is quite disparaging on Blogger as a platform! I get that it's one for the veterans and is not the coolest (I use it for this blog) but in my opinion the CMS is only really relevant to the developer. I've seen good sites built in a bad CMS and vice-versa. Maybe the time has come to stop showing my age and move over to 'Medium' or, if I want to look really cool, 'Ghost'!
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