How Periscope Can Showcase Your Employer Brand in Real Time

Have you ever thought about using live streaming app Periscope for a social HR campaign? We recently interviewed Lars Schmidt, founder of Amplify Talent and employer brand strategist at Hootsuite to find out more. You can hear it below or read an unabridged version of this article at Link Humans, enjoy!

What is Hootsuite Open Source HR?

Open Source HR, or #HootHROS if you want to put that in hashtag form, was really a campaign that we put together.

Ambrosia Vertesi, Hootsuite’s VP of Talent, is a good friend and she’s the person that brought me in. Her and I have a very similar ethos around the world of work and particularly around social HR, and trying to share and help people understand some of the value and advantages of bringing Social into HR operations.

Being a leader in social HR is one of Hootsuite’s talent groups’ objectives, and so they really want to be able to lead the way, but also show people the way. It’s one thing to lead the way [but] it’s another to do that and bring everybody along with you. That’s really been engrained in their culture, including their organisational culture, for years.

When I came in, we started having a conversation around how we might bring the idea of Open Source inside of HR, and ultimately where we landed is the concept of Open Source HR. The idea is that we want to start working out loud on some of the projects that we’re doing, where really the whole HR team is empowered to share some of the things that they’re working on, what they’re learning, where’s they’re finding inspiration.

What we’ll also be doing is creating a series of case studies that will really go into a lot of detail on particular HR projects or recruiting projects that we’ve developed within Hootsuite, but beyond just saying, “Hey, here’s a thing we did” and really breaking it down to say things like, “Here’s where the idea came from. Here’s how we pitched it internally. These are what the expected outcomes are. This is how we executed it. This is what the actual outcomes were” and then ultimately even, “Here’s what we got wrong.

We want to really be open about that, especially around social HR. There’s a degree of risk-taking that I think takes place, which is a good thing, but it also means you are going to fail and you are going to get some things wrong – we think it’s important to be able to share that too. It’s not all unicorns and roses – you’re able to say, “Yeah, we thought this was going to be how this would turn out and some of these things were right but actually some of these things were wrong.” That’s going to be a key part of each case study we do.

Are you showcasing best social HR practices to inspire Hootsuite’s clients?

[We’re trying to inspire] the clients and then the HR community as a whole. I hear you say, “best practice” – a quote Bill Boorman uses all the time is:

Test practice, not best practice.

…which I think, particularly when you’re kind of at the leading edge of trying to do some things that haven’t been done before and experiment in certain ways, it takes a track record of success before I think things really get to become best practice.

Much of what we’re doing in the space tends to be test practice because there isn’t really a precedent. You’re just trying to figure out. You have a hunch, you’re not just blindly saying, “Let’s just do this” – you have a feeling what the outcome may be, but until you actually do it, there’s no way to really know.

What is the difference between social HR and social recruiting?

To me, social recruiting is a subset of social HR – even within recruiting you’ve got different subsets: you have social sourcing which is using social media to find talent; you have employer branding which one might argue sits either in recruiting or in HR, so that could be linked to either.

I think social HR is the idea of having your entire team being open to sharing on HR, sharing best practices, and even interacting within your organisation. One of the things that’s really unique about Hootsuite’s HR team, and this is a testament to Ambrosia’s leadership within that group, is that HR within Hootsuite is looked at as an innovation-driving function within the team. It’s very well-established and well-respected as one of leading teams that takes risks and tries new things.

I haven’t really encountered that in many organisations where HR has that earned rep of being a den of innovation within an organisation, particularly like Hootsuite, so Ambrosia and her team have really done a tremendous job of positioning, by taking risks, by really embracing social HR, and also getting the rest of the organisation to adopt some of their approaches that I think you don’t typically find.

READ MORE: How Companies Can Use Social Media to Recruit the Best Talent

What was operation Follow the Sun and where did you get the name from?

The story of Follow the Sun started at South by Southwest.

Ambrosia and I were at Craig Fisher‘s TalentNet conference and we were having a conversation, Meerkat had just launched. We were using Meerkat to live stream a live podcast that we were doing. We were talking about the employer branding possibilities of live-streaming in general.

A few weeks later, Periscope came out and that was right around the time that I came on to Hootsuite. Ambrosia and I were having a conversation around how we could use Periscope to really convey the global scope of Hootsuite. We were operating in nine different offices and we wanted to make sure we could help prospects get a sense of that global footprint and the unique culture within Hootsuite. We thought live streaming would be an interest way to do that.

The idea for Follow the Sun was we wanted to start in Singapore and actually work our way East, around the globe throughout the day, showcasing a different office every hour on the hour. So we started in Singapore, we moved to Bucharest, moved to London, to Boston, to São Paulo, all the way over to the headquarters in Vancouver. We wanted to literally Follow the Sun as it turned around the earth – using that same approach to showcase different offices, and some of our peeps from office to office throughout the day.

What were the objectives with this campaign?

It was something that was still fairly new. Obviously Periscope had just come out, so we wanted to develop some proficiency in Periscope. We wanted to go from a branding standpoint but also we wanted to get some of the team involved in using it. We wanted, from an employee branding standpoint, to raise awareness for our global operations, and also some of the unique culture that we have, and obviously showcasing our talent within some of the offices around the world. I think outside of that, we really wanted to kind of get people to start understanding that we’re going to start using the Hootsuite Life channel on Periscope to do these kind of things.

Other than that, really to not screw up. We listed that as an actual outcome. I think this is actually the first branding campaign that ever happened on Periscope, particularly of a global nature like this, so it was a pretty complex operation, with lots of different people using it. We used LastPass to actually allow all of the broadcasters to log into Periscope using the Hootsuite Life account.

So, we’re doing this complex, global, choreographed effort with people who, many times, had not used Periscope before, [and] also using an account that was not their own and getting access to that through LastPass. There’s a lot that could have gone wrong, but I think we were pretty pleased that it went relatively smoothly.

You started talking about Meerkat and then switched to Periscope?

Within Hootsuite, we never really activated anything on Meerkat. I think when both came out, the organisation got together and we decided that Periscope would be something that we would be focusing our efforts on. Meerkat, surprisingly, actually weathered that storm in terms of the API being cut off, fairly well. I think they’ve tried to establish more of a niche with musicians and live music – I know Madonna debuted one of her new tracks on Meerkat. Meerkat’s demise is not quite there yet.

But, I think organisationally, it would make more sense, it would be easier for our community to follow along with us if we went with one and focused on that, and that was Periscope.

READ MORE: What Does the Future Hold for Twitter’s Periscope?

When you did this global campaign, how many people were Periscoping?

There were nine people. Every office had one point person that was the broadcaster – so viewers were actually able to get a physical look at the office space, see some of the people. Even though there’s one broadcaster, many times there would be other people who would come into play and answer questions from the audience. The format [they did] was like an AMA on Reddit – the broadcaster would be taking people around but they’d also be answering questions, coming in on Periscope as the tour was taking place.

In terms of results, can you share what you’ve achieved?

We had over 5,000 viewers for the live broadcast, which was pretty good. It’s kind of hard to tell, “Is that a lot?” “Is that a little?” We had that broken down actually by office.

If you’re familiar with Periscope, you can “heart” something if you like it – if you tap the screen it pops a little heart up. We had a little over 11,000 hearts across the nine broadcasts. Our Periscope Hootsuite Life channel gained about 230 followers. Not much lift on the Hootsuite Life account on Twitter. We thought we’d get a little bit more, and we also saw a slight lift in career site visits and applications immediately after the broadcast.

Live broadcasting isn’t new. There were apps like Socialcam and lots of other apps that allowed you to do that even years ago, but I think the market wasn’t necessarily ready for them. The timing I think is right now, where you’re starting to see broader adoption, and because it’s so easy to just share a live broadcast. I think it really makes it very easy to connect with fans and audience and ultimately, people you’re trying to potentially hire.

[Tweet “Periscope makes it very easy to connect with people you’re trying to hire. #smlondon”]

What did you learn and were there any HR takeaways?

We definitely got some things wrong in the broadcast. We didn’t know at the time that once you show a live broadcast on Periscope, it can then be watched within 24 hours. If somebody misses the live broadcast but they’re there within 24 hours they can still see the video. After 24 hours, it’s gone. We didn’t know that. So we kind of positioned, and our intent was that we were going to save the tweets that people sent out when the broadcast went live and compile them in a blog post. So then, we thought those videos would be accessible, and people could watch them. Well they weren’t, and so we were putting together the blog post, we were clicking the links, and it was saying, “Broadcast not found.” Then we realised, you know what? It’s not available.

When you’re doing a Periscope broadcast, you can also save the video to your phone and your camera roll, which we had people do as a backup. The problem with that is, it doesn’t show the chat window coming up and it doesn’t show the hearts.

Most importantly, since it was kind of an AMA format, the broadcaster was answering questions that were coming in from the chat window. So if you had that video saved to a camera roll, you can’t see those questions. So it’s kind of a weird experience to watch that video after, and we weren’t really able to use that. That was something we got wrong, we didn’t realise that.

I think another thing that we learned, certainly from an HR standpoint, is that we could have done a better job at directing the broadcasters to have a stronger call to action around hiring. Specifically sharing some of the open positions they had in each local market. I think that would’ve been a great opportunity from a recruiting perspective, because as you have local fans watching the local broadcast and they get excited about the Singapore office or the São Paulo office and say, “Hey I might wanna work there,” we didn’t really give them any guidance on the kind of positions we were hiring, or how they could apply and I think, particularly from an HR standpoint, a recruiting standpoint, that was a missed opportunity.

What will happen in the social HR space over the next 3 years?

I’m curious to see how virtual reality continues to mature. Oculus is obviously getting a lot of buzz. There will be more platforms coming on the market soon. I think if virtual does become fairly mainstream, I think that there could be some really interesting implications for recruiting and hiring with that.

I think we’re also starting to see, this is something I’m really happy about, a shift in approach around job descriptions. As much as I think recruiting has evolved over the last couple years, and particularly in recruiting technology, job descriptions, for the most part, haven’t. They’re probably one of the least evolved tools we have in recruiting, so I’m starting to see more visual job descriptions, more dynamic job descriptions, more video job descriptions, and most importantly, mobile-optimised job descriptions as well. I think that we’re still somewhat limited by our ATSs in that evolution. So hopefully their capabilities will start to evolve more rapidly to allow for this.

My hope is that job descriptions will look pretty different than they do today in 3 years time.

Connect with Lars on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @ThisIsLars.